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Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango is a social dance and a musical genre that originated in Argentina and Uruguay. It is commonly confused with Ballroom Tango, though this a later derivation.

Argentine Tango consists of a variety of styles that developed in different regions and areas, and in response to the crowding of the venues and even the fashions in clothing. Even though they all developed in Argentina and Uruguay, they were also exposed to influences re-imported from Europe and North America. Consequently there is a good deal of confusion and overlap between the styles as they are now danced, and fusions continue to evolve.

Argentine Tango is danced in an embrace that can vary from very open, in which leader and follower connect at arms length, to very close, in which the connection is chest-to-chest, or anywhere in between. Close embrace is often associated with the more traditional styles, while open embrace leaves room for many of the embellishments and figures that are associated with Tango Nuevo.

Tango is essentially walking with a partner and the music. Musicality (i.e. dancing appropriately to the emotion and speed of a tango) is an extremely important element of tangoing. A good dancer is one who makes you see the music. Also, dancers generally keep their feet close to the floor as they walk, the ankles and knees brushing as one leg passes the other.

Argentine Tango relies heavily on improvisation; although certain patterns of movement have been codified by instructors over the years as a device to instruct dancers, there is no "basic step". One of the only constants across all Argentine Tango styles, is that the follower will usually be led to alternate feet. Another is that the follower rarely has her weight on both feet at the same moment. Argentine Tango is a new orientation of couple dancing. As most dancers a rational pattern which can be predicted by the follower, the ballast of previous perceptions about strict rules has to be thrown overboard and replaced by a real communication contact, creating a direct non-verbal dialogue. A tango is a living act in the moment it happens.

While Argentine Tango does not teach amalgamations of steps like Swing, Salsa, or Ballroom dances do, there arte some recurring figures that are taught. Here is a fairly typical order of steps that may be taught in a beginner class.

  • Walks - a couple, in an embrace, walk in unison.

  • Salida com un, or "eight count basic" - salida as "the way out " onto the dance floor.

  • Cruzada - (from cruzar - to cross) Action of the follower crossing her left foot in front of her right foot at certain points in the dance.

  • Ocho - a figure 8 traced by the followers feet when moving forward or backward.

  • Media Luna - a half giro.

  • Lapiz - "the pencil" - circular action traced by the toe as an adornment.

  • Molinete - "windmill" a turning figure of the follower around the leader (synonym for Giro).

  • Giro - a turn (in either direction).

  • Sacada - one partner displaces the other partner's leg to displace the unweighted leg.

  • Gancho - one dancer hooks their leg around their partner's leg.

  • Barrida - one partner sweeps the others foot.  Sweeping it along the floor.

  • Arrastre - (drag) synonym for "barrida".

  • Volcada - rotating the woman around her axis, while her axis is tilted towards the leader and causes her to "capsize" making the free leg "spill" tracing a figure on the floor.

  • Colgada - both dancers pivot with their axes tilted away from vertical, counter balancing each others weight.

  • Parada - one dancer, usually the leader halts the motion of the other dancer usually by blocking the foot.

  • Sandwich - one dancer, usually the leader placed both feet on either side of the other's foot.  Generally occurs after a Parada, with the second foot bought in, forming a gentle squeeze on the other side of the foot which was halted with the Parada.

For more information about Argentine Tango Lessons give us a call or email us, see our contact details.





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Last modified: 18/04/2013