Review by Aydan Dunnigan, 2013/09/28
For the tango devotee, all roads lead to Buenos Aires. However, immediately upon joining Cherie Magnus on her pilgrimage to tango’s birthplace, the realization strikes the reader that no two paths are the same. The path is often twisted and treacherous and certainly not for the faint of heart. Each is as intricate as the individual walking it and each step taken unearths both treasure and trauma.
To put it bluntly, Cherie's journey is shocking. It is almost inconceivable that fate would inflict one gentle soul with such calamity. Propelled from her comfortable home, marriage, and affluent lifestyle in Los Angeles by the devastating death of her beloved husband and soon after afflicted by cancer herself, Cherie sets off on her search for a sanctuary for her soul. This quest takes her over three continents, in and out of failed love affairs, betrayal and abandonment by her closest friends, and unrelenting financial peril, (not counting the ordinary everyday mishaps like being assaulted or robbed).
Nonetheless, as a reader I was continually taken aback that my feelings for the writer were never those of pity but rather admiration for her indomitable spirit. I became enthralled by the prospect that all this turmoil could somehow, someday find its healing balm in tango and that Cherie and her dancing will be richer for her trials. Tango is of course the quintessential dance of pathos and melancholia and the reader shares the secret conviction that from the grief and despair Cherie will rise as a virtuoso tango artist.
I was not disappointed. By the end of book, when Cherie has settled permanently into her long yearned for home in Buenos Aires, she has nursed the wisdom and soul-depth captivated in the following words:
After years of running from illness, loneliness and loss, I at last knew where to find peace. Sitting at a table drinking sidra with friends, sometimes going to tango heaven with a remarkable dancer, stepping - sweaty and spent- into a waiting taxi at five a.m. and driving home through the quiet dawn, climbing into bed with that sweet body and soul exhaustion that connects me to the universe - I didn’t want more than that…. What a blessing to be dancing in this “chapel” of fellow believers.... It was a miracle that my twelve years of journeying towards the light put me just here, just now. Maybe I made mistakes, maybe I’ve had to pay for them, maybe I’ve had bad luck and loss, maybe I’m not young and am alone, maybe my loved ones are gone, but I am here and dancing, dancing, dancing, blessed and happy.
For anyone who has ever danced tango or aspires to do so or shares in any small way the heart of a dancer, Cherie's work is a thrilling and inspirational read.
Aydan Dunnigan, author, Trauma to Tango: dancing through the shadows of unforgiven dreams.