Tango Helps & Figures
© by Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid
Tango belongs to the "modern" type of dancing, as versus the "Latin American," so it is in the same category with waltz, foxtrot, and quickstep. It is different from all other types of dancing, and it has its own complete character in both style and atmosphere. While this sometimes is a little "scary" to some people, in reality the Tango is one of the easiest rhythms to learn. It consists mostly of walking steps; there is no rise and fall, and very little sway in the dance.
First a little bit about the stance and hold. The Tango has a close hold that is different from both the modern and the Latin closed position. The knees are kept slightly bent or flexed throughout the dance, both as a step is being taken, and at the completion of the step, when full weight is placed onto the moving foot. This is done by keeping the muscles tensed, so that there is neither a lift nor a drop or softness in the body position.
As the couple stands in closed position, line of dance, both the man's and the lady's right foot will be slightly behind the left foot, so that the toes of the right foot are approximately even with the instep of the left foot. While we say the feet are closed, they are not tightly closed, but about 2-3 cm. apart. The knees are bent, and veer slightly inwards; in fact, the right knee should be tucked in slightly behind the left knee. The man's body will be facing diagonal line and center, with his feet also pointing DLC, while his steps will be (slightly sideways - left edge of foot) down line of dance. Therefore the steps will be a different direction than the facing body and foot direction.
The Tango hold is more compact and the woman is more to the man's right side than in the other modern dances. Because of this, the man's right hand will be further around the woman's back; usually, the tips of his fingers will be touching the middle of her back about where her backbone is. The lady's left arm will then be placed under the man's arm, palm down with pressure on the inside of her wrist on the man's back, just under his armpit. The lead hands will be held closer towards the body than in the other modern dances.
The feet are picked up and placed instead of drawn along the floor. In the forward steps, most steps will be taken on the left edge of each foot and you will have a right side lead; in contrast, in the backward steps, most steps will be taken on the right edge of each foot, and the side lead will be a left side lead. This will cause the walking steps to have a slight curve to the left. As a step is taken forward with the left foot, because of the body position and the right shoulder lead, the step will, in effect, be taken across the body (contra body) and the legs will be together above the knees. As a forward step is taken with the right foot, the legs will "unlock." Again, both forward steps will be taken on the left side of the foot, so for the left foot this will be the outside edge, and the for right foot it will be the inside edge. Just the opposite is true for the backwards steps (mostly done by the woman).
Tango is nice and easy - you don't have to worry about
Hold, stance, side lead
WALK - SS; lead foot free
TANGO DRAW - QQS; lead foot free
PROGRESSIVE SIDE STEP - QQ, lead foot free
BRUSH TAP - QQ&S; lead foot free
PROGRESSIVE LINK - QQ (CP to SCP), lead foot free
CLOSED PROMENADE - SQQS, lead foot free
OPEN PROMENADE - SQQS, lead foot free
BACK OPEN PROMENADE - SQQS, lead foot free
ROCK TURN - QQS; QQS; lead foot free
CLOSED FINISH - QQS; trail foot free
OPEN FINISH - QQS; trail foot free
REVERSE TURN - QQS; lead foot free
NATURAL TWIST TURN - SQQ; SQQ; (SQQ; QQS;) lead foot free
For a round world, Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid
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