Local dance group helping those with limited mobility find strength through tango

A local dance group is helping people with limited mobility find their inner strength through the love of tango.

Tango Stride, a different kind of tango, is helping people with limited mobility who aren’t afraid to break barriers and push their doubts far behind when faced with obstacles.

Tango Stride is proving all moves are not alike.

“You kind of go, ‘what am I going to do?’ And I hear about this tango class and, my goodness tango? Give me the rose, I will go,” said student Erin Musser.

Musser was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998. She said Tango Stride gives her hope and all the little movements really do add up.

“Today, I was actually standing up with most of my weight with just me doing it on my tippy toes. When you do that, that helps with depression because you could feel pretty isolated when you’re in a chair like this and when you get to come to a class like this with people and laugh, it just makes you feel better, mentally as well as physically,” said Musser.

For founder Gabriela Condrea, Tango Stride is not about having students become expert dancers. It’s about strengthening balance, posture and pushing students to limits they have been told they cannot achieve.

“For some people, it’s a way for them to get stronger, especially if a lot of our students come in wheelchairs, and so they have to be able to stand for, I tell people even five seconds, and we can work on standing and for some people, we can work on helping them stand stronger,” said Condrea.

Annie Jones, who comes to Tango Stride, suffered a severe stroke in 2018 that left her paralyzed on her entire right side. Doctors told Annie she should not survive through the night but she did not give up.

“It happened instantly. I got medical help within pretty much the first half hour after the stroke and they were ready to call in a chaplain and read me my last rites,” said Jones.

However, four years later, Annie is still breaking barriers and improving daily.

“It’s brought life back to different parts of my body that I thought would never work again, based on what I was told,” Annie said.

Tango Stride’s purpose is not to get people with limited mobility back to full mobility but to help people in that situation get stronger, more coordinated and confident. Seeing small improvements is what keeps Condrea doing what she is most passionate about.

“I love seeing my students get stronger. I love seeing their confidence. I love how they support each other. I think it just impacts their life you know, and it gives them a chance to move where some of them, they’ve been told like, ‘here’s your wheelchair and good luck.’ Some have been told you’re not going to be getting up out of your wheelchair, by well-meaning people, I’m sure. But that doesn’t bring a lot of hope. So the hope, I think that’s the biggest thing and seeing their hope and seeing them light up,” Condrea said.