Camille Cusumano

Interview with
Camille Cusumano 

When her long-term relationship ended, author Camille Cusumano packed up and moved to Buenos Aires to pursue her passion for dance. Tango: An Argentine Love Story, the book that grew out of her experiences, is partly an account of her journey, both internal and external, and partly a reflection on the convergence of tango, yoga, and meditation.

Unofficial Book Reviewer: Tell us about your first experience of tango.
Camille Cusumano: It was too slow for my liking. I preferred jumping dances like swing. Then something happened—the alchemy of the embrace, in short. No turning back now.

UBR: What was the biggest adjustment you faced in moving to Argentina?
CC: Feeling like a five-year-old when I opened my mouth to speak.

UBR: How do your family and friends feel about showing up in your work?
CC: I let nearly everyone who was mentioned in my book read what I said before going to press. If they asked for changes, I made them. Even if you write positive things about people, it shocks them if they don’t know beforehand.

UBR: I love the scene where you describe your imaginary trial. Are there other parts of Tango that readers particularly respond to?
CC: Readers variously commented on the food, the travelogue, and the meditation parallels to tango.

My favorite reader is an Argentine friend, Alejandro, in his 30s. He could barely dance, but read my book and was swept up into tango. Now he walks around with my book with dozens of colored stickies on its pages.

UBR: Tell us about your writing workshops.
CC: I mostly get participants who are good writers but who either don’t trust that skill/art or who are afraid of the solitude of writing. I try to get them to believe that writing is as autonomous as breathing, once you tap into its mystery. We all come away energized.

UBR: What were your favorite books when you were growing up?
CC: I loved Edward Eager—the fantasy and magic books. I loved Nancy Drew. And I was in Catholic school, so I read lots of saints’ lives (St. Theresa and St. Therese were faves). Wanted to be a saint someday. Now I’m just a tango missionary.

Last December I went to Nairobi and unexpectedly taught tango to at-risk teens and kids in a very poor area. It was so rewarding, I dream of going back and doing it again. [Click here to watch the video.]

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