Stand up straight, embrace your partner and
In the land of the do-it-yourself and the
self-reliance, those of us who decided to learn to dance the Argentine
are constantly lectured on the "unstructured and improvisational
this urban dance," and then we are immediately bombarded with an
of steps, figures and Spango, a list of Tango names that are supposed
help the English speaking students memorize steps and patterns better.
What tango shall we dance?
Previously, we have attempted to provide a
series of concepts that include basic elements and fundamental
propositions that can serve as the starting point of a dancing learning
experience. There is an entire set of intangibles that is very
difficult to categorize, assemble and compact into a series of lessons.
Consensual tango dancing
When people judge a book by its cover, they
may not find the time to read it, or worse yet, they may become
"experts" at what they judged without reading.
The thorns make my lips bleed
Have you had non-Tango dancing family members
ask you about the rose between the teeth and the dips to the floor?
This questioning comes across the noisy clatter at the dinner table,
after the eating
and drinking have eased the minds for a family heart to heart
Raising the bar
As we travel to teach, our own education as
dancers and teachers develops. Many questions are asked, and one of the
most often is regarding how long I have been a teacher
All about Eva
The biblical story seems to indicate that Eva
got to take the rap for turning Paradise into a living hell for the
Creator's ultimate creation, Da Man. Looks like the First Guy leisurely
enjoyed the pleasantries of an ideal world created just for him and the
his ribs, with only one caveat to be aware of (actually two, stay away
the Forbidden Tree and don't dance to Piazzolla).
The great equalizer
A compulsive fixation on “the steps,” holds
the development of many a Tango dancer as much as bumping into trees
numbs the senses for the awareness of the beauty and purpose of a
The missing video
One of the main resources for Tango dancers
the large number of videos available from various sources. Given enough
time and patience, most people could eventually copy and replicate some
of the breathtaking moves we see in those videos. However, the majority
of reputable experts, some of which make a good living dancing for the
will tell you that nobody has ever learned to dance Tango from a video.
Once upon a tango
A major transformation in the way Tango is
danced began to take place in the late 1930s and continued well into
the 1950s. It was a natural consequence of the changes that the music
itself had undergone since the decade of the 1920s.
Fear of learning
Like in any good milonga when the music stops
or the tanda ends, the socializing aspect of the encounter is a very
important ingredient to round out an enjoyable evening.
The media vuelta
A working understanding of floor navigation
and the dynamic interplay of the body positioning, create plenty of
opportunities to enjoy a Tango, any Tango, with any given partner, and
with floor conditions in effect at the time that you step on to the
Putting the tango on a solid base
Tango is a social and cultural manifestation
of the city of Buenos Aires which was first a way to dance whatever it
was they were dancing to around 1878. Gradually it developed into a
distinctive way to dance the primitive music, played by ear, by trios
of mobile street musicians.
Riders of the man’s mark
It seems that Argentine Tango dancing is the
most talked about pastime because of its free form nature and the many
opportunities to dance that are now available everywhere we go.
Recently we stepped back in time to an era
when first class travel meant plenty of room to move around, with
panoramic views of the landscape, delicious meals, and sleeping
quarters. We rode the train on a teaching tour of the Midwest.
Cat on a hot dance floor
One of the often used analogies to describe
the motion of Tango dancers on the floor is that they walk like a
feline. The subtle, catlike, cunning displacement of good Tango
dancers speaks plenty of connection, sensuality and finesse.
Glancing is not stalking
A case may be made for the long checklist a
Tango dancer must go through before stepping onto the floor. Issues of
posture, musicality and types of embrace occupy an important aspect
in the minds of most dancers. Room should be left for enjoyment and
When one embarks on learning to dance
Argentine Tango, one is encountered with as many teaching opinions as
there are teachers. Since there is no generally accepted Argentine
Tango syllabus, how the teachers themselves learn the dance and
subsequently how they teach it, is at best varied and at worst a
hodgepodge nightmare for the student.
Whether you are dancing with your partner on
or an empty room, understanding the reason and the logic of most Tango
helps to develop an instinct for floor navigation with finesse. g
Over the years, it has become natural to find
dancing opportunities all over the world. For those who travel, it is a
blessing of sorts to be able to connect with a local Tango community at
almost any destination, whether it is in the US, Europe, Australia, New
Zealand, and even Buenos Aires.
Dance floors come in all shapes, so the
challenge of navigating any floor while dancing the music, protecting
the woman, and respecting the presence of other dancers around, should
be the top priority of any man who aspires to be considered a good
It is sadly amusing to read about teachers
their students to tap each other's shoulders and/or back according to
rhythm of the music to feel really wonderful about being massaged after
vigorous dance class, under the pretenses of learning musicality to
improve their tango dancing.
Mark me, she said
In between the Tangos of a set (tanda), a lot
of conversation goes on among the dancers standing on the dance floor.
The topics of the many conversations that ensue, cover anywhere from
flirty interchanges to the latest gossip in the neighborhood. When the
next Tango begins, the sound of the conversations blends with the music
for a few seconds.
Dancing with freedom
Argentine Tango dancing is about a couple
moving around the dance floor led by the rhythm and melody of the
Navigating the floor is an acquired skill and it combines timing,
balance and talent to improvise.
Sacadas are body displacements
The dynamics of Tango dancing come into play
when the couple moves to the sound of the music. The space occupied
varies according to the alignment of the bodies with respect to each
other and the trajectory of every particular movement.
The understanding and good use of the
of the upper bodies leads a dancing couple to clear execution of
and figures while maintaining good posture, developing a personal
and establishing a dynamic connection between the dancers.
All roads lead to tango
A male Tango dancer approaches each dance as
around the dance floor inspired by the music and the presence of the
he's holding in his arms. A female Tango dancer enters into the embrace
the man who's transporting her around the dance floor and lets her body
an expression of the feelings and emotions that she and her partner
as the journey takes them to unexpected levels of intimacy.
Picking the lockstep
The one and only undisputed fact about the
Tango, is that it began as a way to dance existing rhythms, and over a
couple of decades, the music morphed into a distinctive rhythm to match
the choreographic challenge of the early dancers
We are reaching a point where the original
purpose of this series is being fulfilled. More and more people realize
that there is more to dancing tango than arguing about styles,
proclaiming who is the best teacher this week, or pretending a level of
expertise from behind the glare of a computer screen.