EXCL: Kruti Gandhi and Ajinkya Deshpande on making it to Asian Tango Championship prelims
The tango duo has hosted workshops in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad
Tango is felt in the heart, not the feet! Originating from the ports of Argentina and Uruguay, this dance form was once performed solely to entertain the affluent class. But since then, it has come a long way, thanks to Argentine tango pioneers Gustavo Naveira and Fabian Salas.
Closer home, it is Mumbai-based Kruti Gandhi and Ajinkya Deshpande taking the tango legacy forward. The couple believes that in India, tango is at its nascent stage with a lot more in store to offer. Ajinkya has even ventured into something called Tango DJing to promote this titillating dance form.
Recently, with their graceful grooves and elegant moves, they became the first Argentine tango couple from India to reach the finals of the Asian Tango Championship Preliminaries held in Bali, Indonesia.
But there is more to them than this extraordinary feat. We unveil…
When did your tango partnership start?
We first worked together in 2017 for a performance. It was a lot of hard work but we enjoyed working together. More importantly, we felt we could communicate well with each other and grow individually as well as collectively.
What was your breakthrough performance?
Kruti: That would be in Athens in early 2020, right before the world shut down. We were invited to perform by our teachers and with that, we became the first Indian tango couple to perform outside India. It was well received and it really gave us the confidence and the validation we needed.
Tell us about one performance that is the closest to your heart and why?
Ajinkya: We had a performance in Goa in 2022 where we really hit our stride. We felt that we brought the right kind of energy, attitude and expression and we connected with each other and the audience well. That was a big breakthrough for us and we felt like we now had a playbook and a routine to use for the future.
Art comes with a lot of resistance. Did you face any criticism for pursuing tango?
Kruti: Tango in India is at a nascent stage and we are all growing as dancers and organisers across the country. When we started, the biggest challenge we faced was that we didn’t have regular teachers to learn from. However, we have made it a point to go out of our way and learn. In a curious way, we have been able to create a dance form and an expression that is uniquely us. We look at that as a silver lining now.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Kruti: We are both individually driven by tango and we broadly want the same journey. Our main goal has always been to be the best version of us. We push ourselves to be better and sometimes that’s not easy. But we keep it honest and respectful.
Ajinkya: We also believe in setting very high standards. If your goals don’t scare you, then you are playing it safe. This keeps us motivated and driven.
What inspires your performances?
Ajinkya: The feeling of being able to live the present moment fully and to be able to bring our artistic best is what inspires our performances. It's a habit that one needs to build as it is very easy to be distracted. Also, we try to do better than our last performance. That is an active goal.
Tell us about your dance routine.
Kruti: We want to start big and catch the audience’s attention. Along with that, it’s about being honest with the music and the occasion and making everyone feel involved. Most importantly, we want to be connected with each other and communicate that.
Lastly, what was the feeling when you made it to the Asian Tango Championship Finals?
Ajinkya: It was a wonderful feeling, almost surreal! It took a few moments to sink in when our names were called out as finalists! We were ecstatic and excited to be amongst the top dancers at the Indonesia Tango Championship Preliminaries. It was also very inspirational for us and it will help us build in the future.