Instructors & DJs


Cristian Palomo and Melisa Sacchi (Buenos Aires)

Cristian Palomo and Melisa Sacchi, the 2016 World Tango Champions, are talented and well rounded representatives of a generation of young dancers who are dedicated to the art and tradition of tango.

Cristian comes from a family of folkloric dancers, his love for dancing started in 1999 in the ballet folclorico municipal de Gral. San Martin and went on learning, performing and gaining recognition. His first contact with tango was in 2003 at the National Institute of ARt (IUNA). Melisa started ballet as a kid and started her tango training in 2001 with several instructors, milongueros and choreographers. In 2007 she was selected to enter the Academia de Estilos de Tango Argentino (ACETA). She has been performing and further her trainig.
Cristian and Melisa met four years ago dancing D'Arienzo in a milonga in San Telmo. Together they joined the tango company of Jes&ucaute;s Velázquez, they taught, and performed in shows and milongas in Buenos Aires. In 2015 they won the Metropolitan tango championship and arrived seconds in the World Championship for tango salon, that they won in 2016, and in the final for stage tango.

Alicia Pons (Buenos Aires) and Daniel Arias (Buenos Aires / Los Angeles, CA)

Alicia Pons returns once again to the Chicago Mini Tango Festival. Alicia previously participated in the Festival in 2008 and 2013-2016.   She started as a classically trained ballet dancer, first studying tango with Graciela Gonzalez and later, Alicia gravitated to milonguero style through the inspiration and tutelage of Tete Rusconi.   Alicia is an elegant and accomplished dancer with a refined technique and distinctive personality that has made her one of the most sought after female partners in Buenos Aires.   She is most noted for her beautiful foot-play, sensual connection and presence which are predominate in her teaching for both leaders and followers.   Alicia's academic credentials in Educational Science and Psychology help make her an affective and beloved teacher.

Alicia recognizes and appreciates both partners' contribution to the dance.   Her unique connection and in-depth understanding of the dynamics of the dance encourages both leaders and followers in their classes to actively participate in the dance and gives them the tools to do so.

Daniel Arias will be assisting Alicia Pons in her classes also this year.

Daniel started teaching tango in 2000, providing workshops, private classes, and seminars in San Luis and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and performing at such world renowned and prestige tango institutions as The Argentine Academy of Tango, Caminito Tango Show, Club Sunderland, Yira Yira Milonga, El Beso Milonga, Tango Si Milonga, La Milonguita Milonga and Porteño y Bailarin Milonga. Daniel was trained in Buenos Aires by acclaimed Argentine Tango dancers, and has been teaching and performing Tango at the highest level for over 15 years. He participated in internationally renowned competitions, where he won recognition for his preeminence in the Tango art form.

In 2012-2013, Daniel completed his world tour, with classes, seminars, and performances in Turkey, Italy, Germany, and Latvia. In 2014, Daniel settled in Los Angeles, California, where he has become a very popular and sought after Maestro in the Tango Community. Daniel is known for his impeccable, crisp steps, his musical interpretation and his passion for the dance.

Marcela Duran (Buenos Aires)

Known as “The Woman of the Tango” is an icon of the Tango scene around the world.

Marcela Duran, internationally acclaimed as a master teacher, also the iconic performer of the Broadway show Forever Tango . She has increased viewers' interests in learning the tango through her presence and style, and is an influential mentor of many Argentine Tango teachers and social dancers worldwid e. She and her partner, Carlos Gavito, developed an unique and dramatically close tango embrace in which both dancers leaned forward against each other.

Marcela has spent many years walking the tango and dancing with the great milongueros of that time and has absorbed and learned the essence of tan go. She and Gavito taught Argentine Tango together, around the world for ten years, sharing their passion for dancing. They were the perfect example o f how one can dance the tango on stage without losing the essence of this popular and beautiful art form.

José Luis Ferraro and Rika Fukuda (Buenos Aires)

José Luis Ferraro: He started to dance Tango when he was 10 years old, and grew up among the best and historic milongueros of Buenos Aires. Now he dances with some traditional milongueras as their partner, so he is known as one of authentic milongueros in spite of his young age. Since 2016 he dances with Rika Fukuda traveling around to share the essence of real Tango with tangueros of all over the world.

Rika Fukuda: After long term study about Tango in Buenos Aires with famous maestros, she had been giving the course, organizing milonga and workshops for international teachers in her own academy “El Porteño” in Japan. Since 2016 she started to dance with José Luis Ferraro , also her project to film a documentary about important milongueros.

Sol Gabis Gomez and Agustin Ivan Rojas (Buenos Aires)

Sol Gabis Gomez and Agustin Ivan Rojas, since they started dancing together, have done exhibitions in the most recognized milongas of Buenos Aires like Sunderland, Cachirulo, Salon Canning, among many others. They have been champions of the "Fourth Tango Championship of the City of Zarate" they won the 5th place of the "City Dance Championship" (known as "Metropolitan"), and then in August they reached the finals of the "World Tango Championship". After the World Tango Championship they went on tour to Europe for three months.

Sol Gabis Gomez began her training at age 8 with teachers Carlos Perez and Rosa Forte at the Sunderland club. After several years she decided to expand in the search of her dance taking classes with outstanding masters of the different styles of tango.She was selected to train with professional dancers at "ENTA" (National Tango Argentine Space), where the tango salon was perfected in its different styles.

Agustin Ivan Rojas has worked in different events such as festivals, fantasy tango shows and exhibits in the most recognized milongas of Buenos Aires. Thanks to the tango he has worked in different provinces of Argentina, Bolivia, Holland, France, Italy and Spain. With more than 12 years of experience, Agustin Rojo was introduced to the world of tango at the age of 8 in the city of Mar del Plata. A year later he made his first trip to Buenos Aires, to continue his improvement in tango milonguero and salon. Taking classes and seminars with different teachers recognized worldwide and being taken to most traditional milongas of the Buenos Aires city, Agustin specialized his dance and his teaching in search of the comfort and ease of the tango dance. He has toured Brazil and Europe.

Jessica Štšerbakova and Somer Surgit (Turkey / Chicago / Tallin, Estonia)

Jessica is a lifelong dancer with over 16 years of award-winning competitive dancing and over 10 years of experience in teaching. Her impeccable technique, precise musicality and natural style in the movements make her dancing look effortless. Jessica is one of the great examples as an accomplished dancer, instructor and a choreographer in Argentine Tango and among all the other Latin Dances. Jessica is also a certified Bailatino Instructor and has been working for 10 years at Danceact, the most prestigious dance school in the Baltics.

Lightness, grace and fluidity are the most precise words to characterize the dancing style of Somer Surgit. An accomplished performer and instructor of tango, he makes this dance seem simple and sophisticated at the same time. The elegance and weightlessness of his movements are easy to take for granted, because there is nothing artificial or forced about them: Somer's dancing looks naturally perfect. Somer has been traveling to Buenos Aires for his training since 2004. Gustavo Naveira, Chicho Frumboli, Cecilia Gonzalez, Eugenia Parrilla, and Pablo Veron are some of the great teachers and performers that he has studied with. He has been traveling and teaching all over the world since 2003. Somer has been invited to teach and perform with Cecilia Gonzalez in CITA in Buenos Aires between 2009-2012 which is one of the most prestigious festivals in the world.

Jessica and Somer have been mesmerizing the audiences since 2012. Their clarity and simple method in teaching makes the students advance easily. 


Jae Youn (Raleigh, NC)

We welcome once again Jae Youn from Raleigh, North Carolina to the Chicago Tango Festival. Jae is recognized as one of the premier teachers, dancers and DJ's in the greater Raleigh, Durham, North Carolina area. She has been very active teaching and DJing as well as hosting monthly milongas and weekly practicas. Her teaching not only focuses on technique but also places a great deal of emphasis on connectivity and musicality. Her music library is focused on the traditional masters and this is reflected in her DJing. Jae has previously Djed at the Chicago Mini Tango Festival and at other festivals and events throughout the United States. She also Djed in the past year in Milan, Italy.

Vincent Lam (Vancouver, Canada)

We are excited to announce that Vincent Lam will be returning as a DJ to the Chicago Tango Festival. DJ Vincent Lam from Vancouver, Canada has been dancing tango for ten years and spinning tunes in the Pacific Northwest and at Encuentros and Marathons throughout North America for the past five. He favours traditional tangos, mixing his tunes with a sense of fun and romance. Vincent enjoys photography and travel, but of course, all revolving around tango.

Agustín Rojas (Buenos Aires)

We welcome Agustín Rojas from Buenos Aires as a DJ to the Chicago Tango Festival. He will also be teaching with Sol Gabis Gomez the Intensive Beginner Program. Agustin has previously DJed in Argentina and Italy including the Apulia Tango Festival, and Encuentro milonguero Sol, Mar y Tango, both in Italy, and Viva la Pepa milonga in Buenos Aires.

Paul Akmajian (Tucson-Albuquerque)

We welcome Paul Akmajian as a DJ at the 2018 Chicago Tango Festival. Paul Akmajian (Tucson-Albuquerque) has been dancing tango for close to 20 years and DJing for the last 15. In addition to being a regular DJ in Tucson, Albuquerque and Santa Fe, Paul has DJ’d at numerous major US festivals, marathons, and encuentros, including Portland, Denver, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Baltimore, Charleston and many places in between. As a DJ, Paul strives to keep everyone energized and dancing long into the night by playing the best, most familiar, time-tested and dancer-approved music from the Golden Age of Tango.

Muna Swairjo (Hartford, CT)

We welcome once again Muna Swairjo as a DJ to the to the 2018 Chicago Tango Festival Muna Swairjo, is from the Hartford, Connecticut area. She is a dancer, DJ and dance Teacher at the Garage Dance Studio in New Britain, Conn . She is one of the new generation of traditional Tango DJ in Connecticut and have been a DJ at milongas nationally and internationally for past 6 years, including last year at the Chicago Mini Tango Festival. Tango is her passport to travel the world As a dancer, which flavored her styles as a DJ to appeal to all ears and souls of tango dancers. She constantly evaluates the energy of the dance floor to keep it healthy and fun throughout the night. Did we say she loves to spice up the night with unique cortinas?

Serena Lembach (San Diego, CA)

We welcome Serena Lembach from San Diego as a DJ at the Festival. Serena fell in love with tango music on a random trip to BsAs in 1986, and tango music tugged at her heart ever since. She is a House DJ at Toca Tango Milonga and guest DJ regularly at San Diego milongas, as well as in Baja CA, (Mexico) Last summer she was voted favorite DJ at Salt Lake City's annual summer tango retreat. Words like 'fresh' and 'fun' were used to describe her music.

Ray Barbosa (Chicago, IL)

Ray Barbosa has danced for over 15 years. He is the organizer of the Chicago Mini Tango Festival ( which is going into its 12thth year April 2017. Ray has been DJing for a number of years. He has Djed in Europe (Bari, Lecce, Milan, and Naples, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden); Canada (Calgary); the United States (Los Angeles, California; Charlotte and Durham, North Carolina; Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio; Iowa; New York). Ray has also Djed at the Midwest Tango Festival, Puerto Rico Tango Festival, and the Chicago Mini Tango Festival and at the Augusta Tango Marathon.

Private Lessons

The teachers in the Chicago Mini Tango Festival will be teaching private lessons, always on a limited basis. Preference will be given to Festival attendees. In order to maximize the use of time and space, the festival organizers will coordinate the private class schedule.
Click here to request a private lesson.
For questions send an email to