by Wayne &
What we know as
American and International styles of tango were developed from the
bars, brothels, and streets of Buenos Aires. It arrived in Europe in
the early 1900’s, and the Europeans fell in love with it. But,
because they felt it was a bit vulgar, they removed many of the
intricate leg movements in order to adapt it to the ballroom floor.
International tango is considered a “smooth” dance (like waltz
and foxtrot). There is no rise and fall even though the footwork
involves using the heel (forward movements) and ball/toe (backward
movements) of the foot. There is no body swing.
danced with determination, and all steps are placed purposefully,
using quicks and slows for contrast. It is very much a “macho”
rhythm, meaning the steps are sharp. The foot should hit the floor
and “stick”, never skim across the floor. There is no foot
swivel. Put the foot down and then turn the body on that foot. Don’t
rotate the foot after it hits the floor.
In other smooth
rhythms, the body is always in motion, but in Tango the body doesn’t
move past the foot. This form of tango demands that you not drag or
shuffle your feet, but that you strike the floor with your feet
fairly quickly, occasionally referred to as staccato. The foot and
body move together and arrive together. When the foot stops the body
stops. Let’s imagine two cars are approaching a red light. One
driver hurries up to the light, stops abruptly, and waits. The other
driver takes his foot off the gas and slows. The light turns green as
he approaches; he then gently accelerates again. The first car is
TANGO. The second is foxtrot, slowly arriving and continuing on
without ever coming to a complete stop.
The most basic
in tango is QQS, but tango has many variations of timing. An example
is Closed Promenade (SQQS) and Progressive Link (QQ). These two
figures make up two full measures of music. This sometimes creates
problems when cueing. Be aware of the “split” measures. Stacking
the cues will help enable you to cue on time, most of the time.
Here are some
timing variations in some advanced figures --
Five Step - QQQQ; S
Promenade Link - SQQ;
Stalking Walks - SS;
Chase - SQQ; QQ
Promenade - SQQ; QQS;
Rumba Cross - QQS; S
The tango hold is
different and more compact than in other rhythms. The man’s right
hand is lower and placed further across the woman’s back, to her
spine. There is a sense of “locking” yourselves together. There
should be contact between partners from the hips to the knees. The
tight hold and sharp, aggressive steps create a wonderful feel for
the dance and its character.
clinic notes prepared for the ROUNDALAB convention, 2011 and reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC)
Newsletter, May 2014.