"Great dancers are not great because of their technique;
they are great because of their passion." "

- Martha Graham


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Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango may be described as "conversation on the dance floor" or some even say "a way of life". I personally would describe Tango as "the idea of dancing - not alone". In the following I have tried to break down what I believe what makes Argentine Tango so special and passionate:

  • The concept of leading and following is radically different from the one in any other dance. There is virtually no pushing or pulling. The lady follows by "feeling" the shoulders or the space between them - essentially trying to keep them parallel and in front of her partner's. This requires her permanent attention (connection) - the man needs to be her focus - otherwise she cannot follow. Likewise, the man has to be very clear and decisive with what he is doing or is intending to do - otherwise the lady has no chance to follow. He also must listen and respond to the way the lady moves - and every lady moves and feels differently. Thus, dancing Tango is really more like a conversation that requires the full attention of both dancers.
  • Tango music does not follow strict rules like e.g. Viennese waltz or Cha Cha music which have a clear repetetive pattern. Especially the more contemporary Tango music tends to have no constant rhythmic pattern at all (e.g. Piazolla). Thus, the music is usually very colourful full of unexpected variations and surprises.
  • Rhythm is created using "melodic" instruments rather than percussion instruments - a bit like in most classical music. Typical Tango instruments are the bass, cello, violin, piano, flute and of course the soul of traditional Tango music the Bandoneon an accordion like instrument but with more keys and much harder to play.
  • Because of the nature of the music, there is no basic step for the dancers. Beginners often learn sequences of moves for didactic purposes. However, 99% of all Tango moves may be separated into six categories: cuts (saccadas), hooks (ganchos), foot sweeps (barridas), circles (giros), ochos and walks. Many movements are difficult to translate in English or other languages so that they are better known in their original Spanish name which I put in brackets.
  • Dancers can choose whether they move with the rhythm or the melody or whatever they hear. It is not rare to see one dance couple to move slowly while another is more than twice as fast trying to follow a faster phrase listening to the same piece of music. The way dancers interpret the music is affected by many things: mood, age, skills & experience, relationship and compatibility with the partner etc..
  • There are three sub-categories of both Tango music and dance: Tango-tango, Tango-waltz and Tango-milonga. The Tango-waltz is essentially written in 3 beats/bar - but unlike classical waltz music it can vary speed and rhythm considerably. Tango-milonga is a bit more march like sounding faster whereas anything else is Tango-tango.
  • Because Tango Argentino is such a universal partner dance-concept, it is increasingly used to dance to "non-Tango" music showing that virtually any kind of music may be interpreted using the leading/following concept of Tango and it's variety of movements. Particularly classical pieces of music but also operas or musicals can be very nice to dance to using the Tango-concept.
  • more info about this very exciting side of tango you can find at www.neotango.info or look at www.funkytango.com to learn about the neotango classes I give in Sydney, Australia.

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