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basic to most tango step patterns. This makes it easy to get
started dancing right away, though there is surprising
complexity behind this apparently simple activity. You will
learn more about that in each lesson.
For now, start the music, close your eyes, and listen for
each major beat. Then begin stepping in place to each major
beat. When you feel natural moving to this rhythm, open your
eyes and walk around the room, trying to step exactly on those
major beats. Don't worry about anything else; just practice this
SLOW SLOW rhythm for a few minutes. This rhythm is central to
tango, though as you become more expert you'll learn how to
spice up your dancing by varying this basic rhythm.
Now walk some more. This time, walk counter-clockwise around
the outside edge of the floor. This is called the Line of Dance;
it helps dancers avoid running into each other. (If other people
make it impossible or dangerous to follow the LOD, you may
briefly travel against it or even cross the empty center of
the floor, then continue the LOD.) Place obstacles in your path
to simulate people (or imagine them), then curve your walking to
the left or right to go around them.
Argentine tango uses some of the same step patterns as other
walking dances, including freestyle foxtrot, paso doble, quick
step - and the Texas Two Step! But you can instantly tell these
dances apart because of the way the dancers move and relate to
Practice walking around the room without music, stepping
forward onto the balls of your feet, not onto your heels as you
do in ordinary walking and in many dances. This should help you
to feel like a great jungle cat. Keep this cat image in mind
when you're working on aspects of tango style, and soon when you
bring up this image your body will automatically move properly.
Now practice walking BACKWARD along the Line of Dance. Turn
your head to the side to help you see where you're going. Women
should look to the right, men to the left. Straighten your leg a
little more than you ordinarily would and reach back a little
further than might feel natural at first. This will help prevent
bumping knees with your partner when you dance. It also adds to
the cat-like look and feel of your walk.
Whether walking backward or forward, keep your weight over
the balls of your feet. You can practice walking on tip-toes to
more quickly strengthen the stabilizer muscles in your toes,
feet, and ankles. It will also help you build the habit of
dancing with your weight forward. But when you actually dance
don't do it on tip-toes. This is too tiring. It may also get you
out of the habit of using your heels, something needed in more
advanced tango dancing.
la Caza (the Chase)
la Cunita (the Rock Step)
No other dance connects two people more closely than the
Argentine tango, emotionally as well as physically. Part of this
is the dance position. You face in the same direction (the
woman's right, the man's left) and so dance almost cheek to
cheek. You also keep your arms around each other for the entire
Take your partner (real or imaginary) in a standard dance
position. Keeping your upper body straight, shift your weight
onto the balls of your feet. This will push you and your partner
very lightly together, helping weld you into a couple.
If you're a man, pull your partner toward you with your right
hand behind her back. If you're a woman, place your left hand on
your partner's upper arm just above his biceps and push against
him. Both pull and push should be as gentle as you can make them
and still remain firm.
Extend your other arm (the woman's right, the man's left) to
the side in the usual ballroom manner. Do NOT let your arm sink
like a lead weight, or flop around like wet spaghetti. Instead
press very lightly against your partner's hand. During practice
you may want to keep your "balance" hand flat against your
partner's palm rather than clasp it. This way any lapse in
pressure will cause your hands to slide apart, giving you
instant feedback so you can quickly fix the problem.
It's a good idea to practice dancing with an imaginary
partner with your arms and hands properly placed. This will
strengthen your muscles and habits so that you can keep a good
frame without thinking about it.
Now try walking in the Line of Dance with your (real or
imaginary) partner, the man facing forward along the LOD, the
woman backward. Do this first without music, trying just to keep
a good connection with your partner. Keep your head up and
turned slightly to the side, staying aware of your surroundings
as well as your partner. Then turn so that the man can walk
backward along the LOD, and the woman can walk forward along the
LOD. Now walk some more.
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