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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
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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