Argentine mental hospital's dance classes show tango lovers how much they have in common - InfoNews

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Argentine mental hospital's dance classes show tango lovers how much they have in common

In this Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013 photo, Ana Guerra, from Brazil, dances with a patient during the Barracas Tango Festival at the psychiatric Hospital Borda in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The four-day festival is held at different venues in the Barracas neighborhood, well known for its tango culture. This year organizers chose Hospital Borda, which has a dance program called "All of us are crazy for tango," that meets twice a month, which Guerra attends. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)
December 05, 2013 - 9:40 PM

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - You can hear the "All of us are crazy for tango" program before you can see it: Just follow the orchestra's plaintive chords through the labyrinthine passageways of the Hospital Borda.

There, in a dance hall deep inside the public hospital where mentally ill men have been treated for 150 years, both patients and visitors discover how much they have in common in dance classes open to all. The program's name, playing off a common expression for mental illness, reflects the enthusiasm of both patients and visitors for Argentina's national dance.

Psychiatrist Silvana Perl runs the classes held every other Wednesday, including their annual tango festival this week.

She says therapy happens when hospitalized men dance with visiting women: It makes them part of a powerful social and cultural current that runs through Buenos Aires, and gives both dancers the shared human contact that is essential to community.

"To dance, it's necessary to include the other, which requires coming out of your little world," Perl explains. "Then comes the hug ... the whole world is now fascinated with hugging, which is a form of communication. And 'communication' comes from what we have in common. This is something that we have in common, this hug of the tango."

Tango teacher Laura Segade says she and her friends joke that the only difference between the dancers is that some are "crazy on the inside" of the hospital and others are "crazy on the outside."

News from © The Associated Press, 2013
The Associated Press

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