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The Art Of Tango

by Rey and Sherry Garza


There is an art to Tango which implies a personal creation. The International Tango style is bold – splashing with bursts of movement, and then stops to emphasize the action. The personal style you pour into the Tango will define your dance at that moment.

International Tango is characterized by execution of the figures in closed positions, although in choreographed round dances we allow flexibility for open positions. The figures in Tango can be very similar to one another and this makes learning the Tango fun and challenging. The International Tango close body contact of closed, semi-closed, and contra position allows for the execution of the figures with less effort and greater effect.

Consider some of these basic characteristics of International Tango:
  • No Rise or Fall in Tango. Footwork is staccato (sharp), body is legato (fluid).
  • Line up the head, shoulders, rib cage, hips (4 blocks of weight) vertically (90 degrees to floor). Spine remains vertical to floor. Use your ab muscles to lengthen and hold the upright position.
  • Feet are flat, with right foot 2-3 inches back, so toe of right foot is level with middle of left foot. Feet are turned 1/8 to the left.
  • The Man’s upper arms and elbows should make a smooth line, elbows in line with center of body. The left arm is bent to allow the lady more space to move further to her left in closed position.
  • The Lady’s head is to the left over her wrist with chin slightly higher for Tango attitude. The head does not need to pass the elbow. Lady’s left arm rests on Man’s forearm and is an extension of the Man’s right arm. Left hand is “up” from beneath Man’s forearm. The thumb is placed under the man’s right bicep, the fingertips just touching the man’s armpit. Hand position will not change during the figures. Man's left elbow is extended out, not up. Lady’s right arm is ‘in front’ of body while the left arm is in line with body. The right arm should never go behind the body.
  • Frame is offset further with 4 lanes for stepping. Slightly flexed legs (compressed) tend to decrease the size of the frame but the added offset compensates for this change. There is no sway, so the extra offset allows for partners to get around each other. Lady will stay ‘forward’ with weight on foot in order to connect with partner. Body weight should be just over the toes to connect with partner. Don’t lean back and take weight off toes. The connection is more solid in the hips. If the lady loses contact with the right side, she would not have a lead.
More information on Frame, Poise and Hold is found at www.dancecentral.info.

Once you understand the steps, the connection between the steps, and the connection between the lead and follow positions, you will add the flair of your persona and create your picture-perfect Tango. Remembering that there is no one else like you, you can’t go wrong in your own creation!


 From clinic notes prepared for the ICBDA annual convention, July 2013.



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