When people emigrate, they usually do it with the hope of enjoying a lucrative career. For Hong Kong-born Kara Wenham, 29, she has achieved neither more money nor a better standard of living, but has realised a passion. Daughter of a British-born Chinese mother and English father, Wenham says she's the only Chinese woman teaching tango in Argentina - the home of the dance - and is here for six weeks to show us how it's done. 'It's interesting to come back to where I was born to teach tango,' she says. 'The close embrace at first seems a little daunting and intimidating, but once people get into it, I think they find it's rather nice. It's attractive to Chinese people because it requires them to connect. I think it opens up another world, an interior world. It's a visceral experience.' Wenham's family emigrated to Manhattan Beach, California, when she was eight. She says moving there from Bradbury Junior School on Stubbs Road was a shock, especially as she had to leave behind her closest school friend - a girl who remains her best friend today. 'It was all surfers, roller blades and bikinis. It was unbelievably different to Hong Kong,' she says of her new home. Graduating from Emerson College, in Boston, where she studied drama, the actress moved to Chicago where she set up the Concrete Stage Company. Her father, hooked on the tango, spent a year trying to persuade her to give it a try. 'I said are you joking? I was an actress. I had a theatre company. I had no idea what the Argentine tango was. I thought of the rose in the mouth and it looked a bit ridiculous to me.' Wenham finally relented, tried out the moves and found herself hooked. Suddenly, a career in the theatre paled. 'You don't meet a lot of tango dancers who dance once a month, it's more like five times a week,' she says. A holiday to Argentina specifically to pay homage to the place Wenham describes as 'the mecca' for tango dancers, in June 2001, proved to be the trip that changed her life. 'I had no intention of moving to Buenos Aires. I went for five weeks and I just stayed there,' she says. 'Apart from the tango, I loved the city and the culture and I learnt Spanish. There are a bunch of immigrants living together [in the city] and I felt very comfortable with that because of my expat life in Hong Kong and the States.' A relative novice with only a year's tango experience in the US, Wenham says she treated her early years as 'like going to grad school'. 'Obviously you have to study. Every single day you've got to put hours and hours in to learn more,' she says. 'You can find somewhere to dance almost 24 hours a day in Argentina, so I always take a pair of [tango] shoes in my purse wherever I go.' Shortly after her arrival, the Argentine economy went into meltdown and her US dollar savings increased in value. She devoted herself to studying by day and practising at milonguitas (tango parties) by night. 'You can go alone. That's part of the intrigue of tango,' she says of the dance clubs. 'You sit at a table and men ask you to dance, but they don't come up to the table. They ask you with their eyes and you accept or reject with your eyes. There's a sort of romance to it because it's very mysterious. There's a certain code of behaviour and an etiquette that's like stepping back into a movie in the 40s. You dance all night with all these different strangers, very close, chest to chest.' Her years of study paid off as Wenham and her Argentine dance partner Matias Facio now teach Argentineans and visiting students at studios across Buenos Aires. 'Just in the last couple of months, there were a lot of people from Hong Kong, both expatriate and [local] Chinese,' she says, though most of her Asian students come from Japan, which has the region's most fervent tango scene. One of the Hong Kong students happened to be Simon Cartledge, the chairman of local dance club TangoTang who was so impressed with Wenham's lessons that he invited her to teach here. Wenham was last here for a few days in 1998, so she's excited to have the chance to find out more about the Chinese side of her family and track down the only relative she knows of in Hong Kong. 'I have an uncle here and I'm very interested to know if I have other family in southern China because my grandmother and everyone had moved to London, so I don't know if I have any other family. If there is, I'd like to go and look them up.' Kara Wenham and Matias Facio will be teaching 7pm-8.30pm, tomorrow and Nov 22, Dance Arts Centre, 26 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay. Inquiries: 8209 0520 or firstname.lastname@example.org .