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.

Maximiliano Cristiani and Jesica Arfenoni (Buenos Aires)

Maximiliano Cristiani started tango in 1998 and has studied with the great masters of Tango salon and Tango stage. His biggest influence is Osvaldo Zotto. He was one of the first generation of young professionals to study with the famous dancers like Geraldo Portalea, Carlito Perez and Roza, Pupy Castello, Gloria and Eduardo, Parejita and Chino Perico and others. He has performed in tango shows in Buenos Aires such as Tango Palace, Café Tortoni, Facination of Tango and Corporations Tango. He created his own tango show called 'Tango Essence’. He has taught at the Carlos Copello's tango school in addition to his own school 'Catullus' and toured Europe. His dancing emphasizes elegance and precision in technique. Maxi won 1st place in the Tango Competition, Metropolitana 2012 and 2nd place in the Salon Competition in the World Tango Championship in 2012. In 2013 Maxi and Jesica took 1st place in the World Tango Championship.

Jesica Arfenoni has been dancing for tango companies “Tango Trip to Feeling” and “Tango Mas Tango” and has been touring throughout Europe and Brazil for the past four years performing and teaching. She won 4th place in Tango and Milonga in the Metropolitana in 2010 and came in 6th place in the World Tango Championship in 2009.

Maximiliano and Jesica highlight elegance, combining simplicity and yet complexity to the dance while emphasizing the original essence of Tango. They won the 2013 World Tango Championship and are currently touring festivals and academies all around the world in 12 different countries.

Nelida “Nely” Fernando and Hernan Alvarez Prieto (Buenos Aires)

Nelida “Nely” Fernando is a milonguera from the golden era of tango who has been dancing tango for more than sixty years, primarily with her now deceased husband Roberto “Pocho” Carreras. She was born and raised in Buenos Aires, the city where she still lives and where she has danced most of her life. Nely's teaching is based on using connection, communication and musicality as a source of creativity.   Her continuous close embrace allows couples to comfortably circulate in space.

Nely was previously in Chicago with "Pocho" for the 2008 Chicago Mini Tango Festival and in 2015 with Jose Luis Ferraro. This year she will be joined by Hernan Alvarez Prieto, who has been dancing and teaching for 18 years in Europe, Asia and the United States and is well known as an instructor, dancer and choreographer in Buenos Aires. His style is very elegant, with strong influences from extensive study with the old milongueros.

Students of Nely and Hernan benefit from the teachings of Nely’s historical knowledge of tango, music and dance, and Hernan’s ability to articulate this knowledge to make more sense to the newer generations.   Hernan is a good partner for Nely, standing out in his own way, but still allowing Nely to shine. Hernan and Nelly also anjoy dancing Jazz and Rock and Roll together.

Alicia Pons (Buenos Aires)

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.

Pablo Rodriguez and Eva Garlez (Buenos Aires / Albuquerque, NM)

Pablo Rodriguez and Eva Garlez will teach and perform once again at the Chicago Mini Tango Festival. They will be the instructors for the Intensive Beginner’s Program. They previously participated in the 2013 Chicago Mini Tango Festival.

Pablo comes from a family with an extensive musical pedigree; his maternal grandfather,Oscar Galindez, played bandoneon with Alberto Rogal in his typical orchestra... porteña traditional music is in Pablo's blood. He was part of the group of instructors from the Academy of Susana Miller and Maria Plazaola. With them he formed a solid foundation in both the dance and the teaching of the Tango Milonguero. Because of his infatuation with the dance, Pablo began to seek expertise in recognized milongueros such as: Alberto Dassieu taught him how to dance the break and interpretation of Osvaldo Pugliese as well as the continued rapid pace of Vals; Ruben Harymbat of Pompeya gave Pablo the tools to do rhythmic variations due to the characteristic style of the neighborhood in which Ruben lived. Osvaldo and Coca Cartery imparted to him all the love they feel for the Tango and which they provide as a couple on and off the dance floor; and Roberto "Pocho" Carreras showed Pablo how to economize his steps so that he could discover his own personal style and cadence and vision of Tango Milonguero.

Eva Garlez is one of the younger exponents of Tango Milonguero. She also studied in the Academy of Susana Miller and Maria Plazaola, where she began her teaching career as both follower and leader, often the partner of both Susana and Maria, developing considerable knowledge and understanding of both roles. Eva's love of dancing transmits as she teaches and performs. She has become one of the outstanding environmental milongueras having not only has taught and performed with great milongueros in seminars given by Susana Miller and Maria Plazaola in Buenos Aires but also in the milongas. She taught in "Milongueando in Buenos Aires" in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Eva and Pablo are among the leading young couples specializing in Tango Milonguero in the world. They previously have taught in the New Zealand Tango Festival, Festival of Ferrara, Ocania and European tours. They combine an extraordinary ability to explain the basic mechanics of danceable tango and from there to build a very personal dance. In their classes, they increase the confidence of their students by giving them the tools they need at all times. They currently have their own tango school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bien Milonguero.

Daniel Arias (Buenos Aires / Los Angeles, CA)

We welcome Daniel Arias, who will be assisting Alicia Pons in her classes.

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:

  • The 2007-2009 InterAmerican Dance Competition in San Luis, Argentina; received First Prize in Tango Salon and Best Newcomer Award.
  • The 2009 Inter-American Dance Competition, received Best Tango Instructor Award.
  • The 2010 Inter-American Dance Competition, San Luis, Argentina, received Best Dancer Award.
  • The 2010 Best of Cuyo Competition, Mendoza, Argentina, received First Prize in Tango Salon.
  • 2011 World Tango Championship in Buenos Aires, Semi-finalist;
  • 2012 World Tango Championship in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Finalist in Tango Salon.

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.


Vivi La Falce (Buenos Aires)

We welcome once again the reknown Vivi La Falce as the main DJ of the Chicago Mini Tango Festival.

Vivi began to DJing 16 years ago when she was 18, at Lo de Celia in Buenos Aires, which is recognized for its good level of milonguero dancers. Vivi DJed 8 years at Lo de Celia, 15 years at the milonga El Arranque, 7 years at Salon Canning, and since 2013 she DJs at Obelisco Tango. She also travels the world DJing at milongas and festivals, with the same humility as always. Vivi has been the official Dj of TangoBA World Championship for the past 5 years and she has selected the music for the competition the past two years. For the past 5 years she has also Djed for Costa Cruises in Brazil.

After all of these best working moments, Vivi has decided to limit her travel and remain this year in Buenos Aires. The exception is that she has agreed to come to Chicago to DJ at the Festival and then return Buenos Aires. This is Vivi!

Vivi is a professional DJ. She doesn’t dance at the milongas but only DJs. Vivi has been our main DJ at the Chicago Mini Tango Festival the past several years and it is an honor to have her return this year with her music for the opening night and Saturday, the main evening of the Festival.

Victoria Guasch (Spain)

We welcome Victoria Guasch from Barcelona, Spain as a DJ at the the 2017 Chicago Mini Tango Festival (April 20-24, 2017).

Victoria has been dancing tango for 20 years. Victoria has been DJing throughout Europe since 2007. She regularly organizes milongas in Barcelona and has DJed at encuentros such as "Abrazame" in Barcelona (2011/2012/2014/2015), "Paris Tango Dj Capodanno Milonguero" (2015), "Largo Encuentro Milonguero" in March in Italy

Jae Youn Grisham (Garner, NC)

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.

Vincent Lam (Vancouver, Canada)

DJ Vincent Lam from Vancouver, Canada has been dancing tango for ten years and spinning tunes in the Pacific Northwest and at Encuetnros 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.

Oleh Kovalchuke (Kansas City, MO)

Oleh Kovalchuke returns to DJ at the festival after successful debut in 2009. Oleh has been dancing tango for nine years, and DJed for seven years throughout Colorado including Denver and Colorado Springs. He currently lives in Kansas City, where he plays music at Stuart Hall and Coda milongas. Oleh has lived and studied social tango at Buenos Aires milongas for seven months over six visits. He has taught numerous group and privates lessons, as well as tango workshops throughout Colorado since 2003 and in Kansas City since 2008.

Muna Swairjo (Hartford, CT)

Muna Swairjo is a tango DJ / Tango teacher and organizer of Hartford Argentine Tango Society and owner of the Garage Dance studio. She also is Doctor Physical Therapy in New Britain, Connecticut .

She is a traditional Tango DJ in Connecticut and has been a DJ at milongas nationally and internationally for past 6 years. Tango is her passport to travel the world as a dancer and she has flavored her styles of DJing to appeal to all ears and souls of tango dancers.  Constantly evaluating the energy of the dance floor to keep it healthy and fun through out the night, love to spice up the night with unique cortinas. 

Hernan Alvarez Prieto (Buenos Aires)

Beside teaching with Nely, Hernan Alvarez Prieto will also DJ for us. He has been DJing for many years in Buenos Aires and we are glad to have him at the Chicago Mini Tango Festival.

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