About Tony & Ilana


Dance Experience

Ilana Rubin and Tony Fan bring to the tango a life-long interest in dance. Ilana's extensive dance training includes modern dance with Martha Nishitani, as well as ballet and folk dancing. She performed for five years with Radost, Seattle's premiere folk dance ensemble. Tony started his dance career studying modern ballet. Later, he continued with many different forms of social dancing before he discovered the Argentine tango. Sice, Tony has studied tango in Europe and with Ilana in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tony and Ilana have been dancing the Argentine tango together for over twenty years. The beauty of their movement comes from their maturity in the dance, strong connection and deep respect for the music. Together, they have studied with such notable dancers:  Juan Bruno, Susanna Miller, Julio Balmaceda and Corina de la Rosa, Osvaldo Zotto and Lorena Ermocida, Esteban Moreno and Claudia Codega, Gabriel Angio and Natalia Games, Graciela Gonzalez , Daniela Arcuri and Armando, and Omar Vega.

Teaching Experience

Tony and Ilana have the special gift of excellent teaching. They take a creative approach to tango, and combine musicality with a superb analysis and breakdown of the individual movements. Their classes are fun, informative, well thought out and presented. Tony and Ilana teach a regular curriculum of tango classes in the Seattle area. Their lessons have grown increasingly popular since their first weekly classes in 1996. They are now leading one of the major tango schools in Seattle and offer special workshops around cities in the west coast. Their workshops have been featured in the Northwest Folklife Festival, Portland Tango Festival, and Palm Springs Tango Festival, as well as many tango communities in the west coast from Los Angeles and San Francisco to Vancouver B.C., Canada. Their regular classes are offered through the Bellevue Ballet Arts Center, WAC, North Seattle Community College, Shoreline Community College, and Bellevue Community College.

Performing Experience

Tony and Ilana were featured performers during an evening of tango at the 1997-present Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle. They are the stars of the independent film, The Last Tango, produced by Carl Tanne. In 1997 they appeared in Sonny Newman's full-length tango ballet, The Loves of Margarita, with Sandor and Tiffany, stars of the Broadway show Forever Tango. In 2011 Tony & Ilana were cast in the tango documentary film "For the Love of Tango". Tony and Ilana are the performers for the ACT theater opening ceremony and many other Seattle theater events. Tony and Ilana also perform at different tango communities in the west coast and Canada. Their latest performance was with the world renown Argentine pianist Pablo Ziegler at the Meydenbauer Theater, with Daniel Trenner at Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, and with Chelsea Eng at the Stanford University. Tony and Ilana frequently perform at workshops, theater shows, festivals, dinner Shows, and other special occasions.


Teaching Approach

Tango is a conversation. Tango is an improvised dance with no set patterns; couples dancing the tango are responding to each other while being motivated by the music. Our classes prepare the students to enter that conversation, encouraging them to understand both the leading and following roles. We also work on the crucial foundations underlying the conversation: improving carriage, coordination, balance and rhythm. 

Taking part in the conversation means listening and responding to one's partner. Learning the tango is like learning a foreign language. This takes patience and sensitivity, but when mastered, it creates a dance that is truly an interplay between two people. In our classes, the students will experience both leading and following roles as they build communication with their partner on the dance floor. The students will become more aware of their partner, making the dance more intimate, social, and accessible- more truly a conversation. 

Most importantly, we teach the language of tango, not just a few words or memorized sentences. In our classes, we will learn the vocabulary of tango, looking for its syntax,  and how to put phrases together in a way that sounds natural. Tango is a language, and one can only master it when they understand how the basic elements link together to form a dance. We will teach the students how to link simple rhythmic building blocks- the phrases of tango- and showing them different ways of constructing these phrases into poems.

We finish each lesson with demonstrations of more phrases built on the same principles. We emphasize the idea of building the dance from basic elements rather than offering figures for memorization. We frequently work with linking steps, and navigational skills, demonstrating how to use them in a variety of situations. We believe that when students see the tango as a flexible dance, and understand the beauty of how to piece different elements together with the music, the dance becomes more exciting for them. They can truly make this dance their own with their own expression and flavor.



"In my estimation Ilana Rubin and Tony Fan are absolutely Seattle's best tango teachers. They have been studying, dancing and teaching together for over 10 years, and it shows.
First, they are incredibly beautiful dancers. It's not easy to be really good at tango. It takes years of dedicated study and practice. Tony and Ilana have put in that time and effort. They have learned from experts and have become experts, themselves.
Second, teaching isn't something that "just anybody" can do, especially in the close team teaching required of partner dancing. It takes a special kind of talent and skill. Tony and Ilana are talented as teachers and they have developed and honed their skill so that their teaching is clear and precise and their teaching style is easy to understand and learn from.
Third, maintaining the delicate balance between teaching partners, and addressing the needs of both leads and follows takes particular skill in teaching dance. Tony and Ilana have developed and refined that skill very well, so both leads and follows get precisely the information and practice they need to learn their part in the dance.
I always recommend Tony and Ilana when students ask about learning tango. They are Seattle's best tango teachers."

      Linda Townsend, Seattle, Washington


"Tony and Ilana break down the moves and patterns of tango in such a masterful way that it's impossible not to succeed in their classes. Their explanations are clear, and they work their students through each part of the moves and patterns they have demonstrated. Few dance teachers can do this as well as they do- helpful, encouraging, smart, patient, good communicator."

      Peter Neurath, Seattle, Washington


"Tony and Ilana are really Great teachers! My husband and I have been taking classes from them for about 3 years and find they continuously present their classes and material with a fresh approach. Tango is not a dance one can learn quickly, it requires a passion for the form and music which they definitely have. And yet with just a few simple moves it can be Enjoyed quickly by a beginner in a social dance setting. Tony and Ilana also provide that in their weekly Milonga dances. One of the things I find outstanding is their ability to present the material from a variety of perspectives. After all these years teaching they clearly understand that their students are a mix of learners. And they are able to teach any given step from several perspectives so that every student will eventually understand and be able to start mastering the step. They are VERY encouraging and Welcoming to every new student and all returning students. Although it is easy to get a bit serious and concentrated while learning a new dance, Tony and Ilana lighten it up with laughter and humor with out ever loosing their commitment to expand your joy of the Dance! Their Weekly Milonga is a great place to use all your new steps. I definitely recommend them for any level of student."

      Melanie, Seattle, Washington


"I have been taking Argentine Tango lessons from Tony and Ilana for about 5 years now and can't praise them enough! Their style is unique and amazing to watch and learn. As teachers they are very patient and take the time to make sure you understand each step thoroughly. After 5 years I am still learning and I get something new from each lesson. Not only do they teach but they put on a tango dance weekly that is the best in Seattle so you can dance the steps you have learned in an Argentine atmosphere. You won't be disappointed!"

      Tammy, Seattle, Washington


"Tony and Ilana are some of the most approachable and friendly tango instructors around! They have come to teach several Argentine Tango workshops at our studio and they have been amazing each time! They are able to make tango easy to understand and bring fun and humor into the process. You couldn't find more helpful and supportive people in the dance world. We can't wait to have you back up!"

      Blue Moon Ballroom, Bellingham, Washington


"Tony and Ilana really help you to break the dance down into its essential elements, and then show you how to put it all together again. It's more than just talk."
      Chris Chantrill, Seattle, Washington

"Thank you for being such a good tango instructor, and especially for the one on one advice you've given both me and my partner." 
      Matt Gianni, Bellevue, Washington


“I have had the pleasure of taking a number of Argentine tango workshops with Tony and Ilana, and I have always enjoyed them. I appreciate their superb analysis and breakdown of the individual steps, and have experienced many an ‘aha’ moment during their classes. They are very personable, diplomatic, and helpful, and give a lot of individual attention. After a class I usually leave with a heightened sense of accomplishment and a renewed inspiration for the dance. I recommend them highly.”
      John Sanders, Vancouver B.C., Canada


"Fabulous Dancers!"
      Pablo Ziegler, B.A., Argentina

"We saw Tony and Ilana perform at the Crystal Tango Ball last October. We were so delighted with their style, that we asked them to come and teach a weekend workshop and perform for us in April, 98. Their style of teaching is fun, creative, and informative. It leaves you wanting more. We were impressed with a statement that leaders should pause more and give the followers "pockets of time" to play. We have had many asking how soon we could get them back for another workshop. We are so excited that they will be back in September. Can't wait for more lessons with them. Great style! A couple of our favorite performers and teachers!"
Dan & Dolores Timmins, Vancouver, Washington

"Best in the Northwest!'
      Gary Wembers, San Francisco, CA

"Tony and Ilana are valuable assets in the Argentine Tango teaching and performance community. They presented a very clear, well thought out workshop on basics and adornments and presented a spectacular tango performance at our Tango Ball."
      Clay Nelson, Portland, Oregon

"As dancers Tony and Ilana create a dynamic if violent conversation.
As tango teachers they are able to clearly break down the dance as one would dismantle a puzzle, the different being in reconstructing the dance one gains an inkling of the infinite nature of the tango and thus are drawn into it's passionate intricacy." 
      Irma Verde & Tsing R. Hum, Victoria, Canada