Calculus and Tango: The Odd Couple?

Oxygen Tango, widely recognized as The Best Tango School in the World, was creating new programs and advice had been solicited. So, we were driving to Los Angles to see Mitra and Stefan. Traffic on ‘The 101’..

“.. is so predictable, Nazy,” I explained as we admired the view of other stopped vehicles. “
Predictable?” I thought. “Traffic sucks. We’re on a highway wider than most European countries and traffic is still not moving. I hope Nazy packed food and water.

“Your route is being recalculated due to traffic conditions,” Madeline, the navigation computer, explained as she directed us toward the Pacific Coast Highway: Route 1. Movement stopped as soon as we arrived in Malibu. Madeline, muttering obscenities, resumed recalculations while we admired views of the beach. When we finally arrived in Los Angeles, Mitra was full of questions.

The nice thing about giving advice to Mitra,” I thought, “is that I don’t have to be right and I don’t have to worry about what might happen if she follows my advice. She will dance to her own tune. And it will be a Tango tune.

“Dad, we began a donation program for Oxygen Tango.”

“I already donated.”
mitra and avik

“I know. And thanks. But some people don’t understand how it could take 200 hours to develop the Tango Journey course. They say that college course development takes much less time. You were a college professor. Did it take you 200 hours to develop a new course?”

“No.” I replied. “
I usually began ‘development’ half an hour before the class,” I thought.

“So we’re slow..”

“No. I taught calculus at Georgia Tech. Calculus is a mature subject. In fact I had
taken calculus at Georgia Tech. The University had a syllabus that I just had to follow..”


“The Tango Journey is very different. No one has ever taught such a course. It’s like you’re not only teaching calculus, you’re inventing it.”


“Right. Just like
Isaac Newton.”

“I’m not Isaac Newton.”

“Of course not. You’re like Bob Fosse.”

“Wrong dance, Dad. And I’m not doing it alone.”

“Precisely. You and
Team Oxygen are developing something completely new - from the ground up. And, unlike college professors, you want your students to succeed.”

“Didn’t you want your students to succeed.?”

“Of course - unless there were too many of them. That would be a lot of work - grading papers and talking to them. So,if there were too many, I’d make the first quiz a moderate shaft to weed them out and..”

“We want to retain the dancers.”

“That’s a novel idea for Tango instruction.”


“Just saying. Anyway, you’re starting from scratch, you’re doing something unique, you care about learning and you’re developing - upfront - objective ways of measuring progress and ways for your students to present what they’ve learned with performances in a variety of venues.”

“Did you ever give your students a chance to demonstrate..”

“Yep. After a course in probability theory, I brought 35 crackers and jar of peanut butter to class. I had each student put peanut butter on one side of a cracker. I reminded them that if the crackers were tossed into the air, there was a 50% chance of a face-down landing..”

“Face-down landing?”

“.. peanut butter side down. I had everyone toss their cracker into the air. 34 crackers landed face-down. The last one was stuck to the ceiling.”

“And the point?”

“None of your dancers will stick to the ceiling.”


“If you’re using peanut butter, get out before the cleaning crew arrives.”

“I’m having trouble understanding the relevance..”

“The point, Mitra, is simple You are doing something very unique. Oxygen Tango is devoted to building courses that encourage people to set objectives and achieve them. Oxygen Tango courses have unbelievable retention rates and overwhelming success. It is not at all like a typical college course. And, at the same time, Oxygen Tango people care. They care about the community - people, animals, plants and the environment...

“Well Dad..”

“By the way. I was sorry to hear about your pet ant named

“His name, Dad, was Sherman.”

“Sorry, Mitra.”

“Thanks for the help Dad.”

“Just call me Antonio Tadaro.”

“I’ll just call you
Big Foot’.”

“That’s right, you’ve experienced my ‘Tango’. But don’t just ask me, check with Darius. He is an innovative college professor. He once hired a Swedish Hip-Hop artist to write a song about Supply and Demand.”

“Swedish Hip-Hop? Is that legal?”

“We’ll have to ask
Melika, the family lawyer.”
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