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Have you ever drooled over the shoes women dancers wear in shows such as Forever Tango or Tango Argentino? Those sexy, glittery shoes in luscious satin and leather, T-strapped and X-strapped? Have you wondered, "Where can I get shoes like that?" Wonder no more: Many of those beautiful shoes are made by Leo, an Argentinean woman who runs a family-owned shoe factory out of her home on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

I had the good fortune to have shoes custom made by her during a recent trip I took with San Francisco Bay Area tango teachers Ken and Natasha Delmar. Leo measured my foot. She showed me binders filled with choices of styles, colors, materials, and heels of various heights and shapes. I made my selection and, a few days later, was able to try on an unfinished pair. They were a bit tfight, so they made some adjustments before gluing and nailing them together. When I tried on the finished shoes they felt fantastic--a perfect fit for my odd-shaped foot. As soon as I put those shoes on my feet, I felt like a real tango dancer.

Leo married into a family of shoemakers--her husband's grandfather started the business fifty years ago. About fifteen years ago, a dancer knocked on the door of their small factory in an industrial part of town and asked if they could duplicate a pair of old shoes, his favorites, that he had worn for years. That was Leo's first attempt at making tango shoes. The dancer loved the new shoes so much that he sent all of his friends to Leo, and soon, through word of mouth, she had a large tango-dancer following.

Leo's shoes are prized because of what she puts into them. For example, there's a leather inside sole (where some other shoemakers use cardboard), a steel shank connected to the heel for sturdiness, a traditional leather insert instead of glue-soaked fabric--and love. Her company name--Arsil, a combination of her children's names, Ariel and Sylvia--suggests the care and love she puts into the shoes she makes.

Leo's long list of clients now includes many of the Tango Argentino cast members, noted dancers Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas, Carlos Copello and Alicia Monti, and Forever Tango cast members Guillermina, Jorge Torres, and Karina Piazza. Originally, Tango Argentino's producer wanted to hire someone else; the dancers refused every shoemaker he proposed. When he finally asked their choice for shoemaker, they unanimously chose Leo.

Seeing the show for the first time was a very proud moment for Leo. When the curtain slowly descended, it stopped just above the floor, showing just the dancing feet wearing all of the shoes she had made!

If you're looking for Latin ballroom shoes but don't want to jaunt down to Buenos Aires, try these resources:


All 4 Dance Discount Millennium Dancewear,

Angelo Luzio Dancewear,

Back Bay Dancewear,, 800/554-2340

Freed of London Ltd., 212/489-1055

Grishko, email, 610/239-6440

Miguelitos,, 210/349-2573

Sansha (U.S.A.) Inc., email, 212/246-6212 (link to retailers)

Toronto Dancewear Centre Ltd.,, 416/630-2292

Marty Sohl is a veteran performing arts photographer for Dance Magazine and other publications.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Dance Magazine, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:shoemakes specializes in tango shoes
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:3ARGE
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Previous Article:TANGO REVIVAL.
Next Article:Ghosts AMID THE RUINS.

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