Online Argentine Tango Lessons

 

 
 

 

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Walking

Walking is 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.

 
el Paseo (the Stroll)

Woman's

Man's

Style

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 their partners.

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.

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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)

Woman's

Man's

Woman's

Man's

Dance Hold

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 dance.

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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