The Tango Diva And Her Style
Valorie Hart says she was born on Planet Tango. She wears blood red lipstick and nail polish, three-and-a-half-inch stiletto heels, and clothes that move well.
“My tango name is La Mariposa,” she adds with a smile, and then raises her skirt just enough to show off her shapely legs. “It doesn’t hurt to show my dancer’s legs,” she adds and then begins to pile her colorful tango shoes on the rug to show them off. “I have an impressive collection of about 50 pairs of tango shoes. A tango shoe is a sexy high heel that is specifically designed for dancing. The shoes usually have leather soles, are padded and well balanced, and they are amazingly comfortable.”
She goes on to explain that like ballet ‘en pointe’ shoes, once a shoe stretches from use, it does not support the foot properly, so a new pair is needed. “Dancing in heels, or en pointe, requires a proper fitting shoe. I am ballet trained. My mother was a ballet dancer, and I taught ballet classes for her dance school and studio. So I appreciate the importance of well fitting shoes.”
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that most of the shoes tango dancers wear are made in Buenos Aires, considered the home of the tango.
Then Valorie waxes poetic about her collection of more than 50 tango outfits: “Most of my clothes are tango related, and, as you would probably suspect, there is a big section of black tango clothes in my closet. Black is usually the color of choice for tango clothes, but here in New Orleans color creeps in, especially during the warm months.”
Why is the tango such a sexy dance? “What makes the dance so profound is the embrace, and the connection necessary between the couple to allow the dance to happen. And then there is the music: Argentine tango music is gorgeous, and can be sensuous, dramatic, flirty, passionate, or fun according to the orchestra playing. When you are in love with someone and dance tango, it can be very sexy. It also can be very sexy when you are courting someone. Mostly it’s about moving together and the joy and mystery of human connection. The movements of the dance are fluid and sensual, bodies close together in an embrace, and legs intertwining.”
So it is easy to see why Valorie fell in love the moment she met the tango maestro Alberto Paz.
“I met him when I attended a week-long tango workshop at Stanford University in California, and as the French would say, it was a coupe de foundre,’ or love at first sight. We met in July and were married in October. It was hard not to be impressed with the man who was treated as tango royalty. I thought he was gorgeous the moment I saw him with his mane of hair and Buenos Aires swagger.”
The rest, as the trite saying goes, is history.
“I became his teaching partner from the moment we met. We were a team and founded Planet Tango, our company. “We came to New Orleans in 1999 to teach a tango workshop for The Casa Argentina. A year later we moved here. We both fell in love for all the things everyone loves about this city: Its people, food, music architecture, gardens, waterways, the bohemian lifestyle, no winters, and so much more.”
Before she moved to New Orleans with Alberto, Valorie lived the artistic life in New York, where she was an event designer with her own business, a writer, artist, dancer, performance artist, and in a rock and roll band.
Today Valorie is the tango diva in her dancing world, and a multi-talented woman who says, “Like any artist, I have many ‘jobs’ to keep me in tango shoes. I am a decorator/interior designer; an author, who with my late husband Alberto, wrote ‘Gotta Tango,’ published by Human Kinetics. I am also editor-at-large for New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazine, which recently named me Interior Design Master of 2015, and I teach and dance Argentine Tango, and conduct two weekly classes – one is a fitness class and the other is a group class where everyone is welcome.” (Text her at 504-289-8979 for more information.)
She was recently honored by the New Orleans tango community with a tribute for her 20 years in the tango, and for having spearheaded the start of the community here with her late husband Alberto Paz, who died unexpectedly in February 2014.
“I splurged and bought a beautiful stage dress for the occasion on my recent visit to Buenos Aires,” she says. “The dress is burgundy velvet, with black lace, lots of Swarovski crystals, low cut in the front and back, with high slits for the legs. It was a thrill to wear it for the tribute.”
Although there is a lingering sadness in her heart since Alberto died, she says, “The tango must go on. It is what Alberto would have wanted me to do.”