Christmas cookies are good for the soul, dancing well against “hip gold” and “winter blues”; therefore this time a small excurs. And, finally, also Renate likes expressive dancing.
Probably the word “tango” comes from the Japanese and the dance was invented by Japanese immigrants to Cuba. What is certain is that the Argentine tango has taken over elements of Habanera, Milonga and Tango andaluz.
What has happened in Buenos Aires at the beginning of the last century has never happened before in the history of dance: the dance shows ‘abrazo’, the embrace of man and woman. Tango is danced tightly enwint. It stops again and again and is creating a tension in which music and dance influence each other.
What ‘el abrazo’ means for the dance is the bandoneon for music: a catalyst that turns tango into a kind of life experience. The first bandoneon probably came up around 1880 with European immigrants in Buenos Aires. It quickly took its place in the cafes and the call-houses of La Boca, the port area of Buenos Aires and soon also became acceptable in the ballroom salons.
Like in a melting pot, immigrants from all over the world lived together in a confined space; her melancholy mood of loneliness, freedom, homesickness, desire for love and tradition found an emotion ventile in the tango.
Here is my ABC of Argentine tango
Tango is as attractive for experienced dancers as it is for beginners. The different tango styles give the dancers room for individual interpretations.
At the dance events a personal code of conduct is maintained, which allows a harmonious dance according to the concept of guiding / following / navigation, even if men and women met only a few minutes ago for the first time. It is a very special experience when all couples, like a flock of birds, indulge the dance floor in the counterclockwise direction according to the tango music.
However, Tango is not the same as Tango. For a long time it was considered offensive and was tamed by British choreographers by adapting it to European standard dances. Since some years, however, the trend is back to teach the real Tango Argentino and dance original steps.
The Tango knows different styles such as Milonga and Vals. The word milonga can also refer to the location of a tango event (usually a dance hall).
Beginners do not need experience in other dances. There are good tango dancers who have never learned and danced another dance. You can also dance tango very leisurely, so beginners do not have to be athletic.
Click here to watch a tango flashmob: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZZmW59Ci5g
The classic Tango Argentino is almost a pure improvisational dance by reflecting a mix of lively and sensual expression. Nevertheless, there are some important elements as clues that make it easier for beginners. The most important basic elements in Tango are walking, stopping and turning.
In addition to the basic steps and the always forward leaning dance posture the following movements offer possibilities to embroider the step sequence:
- Ocho – the Eight: The woman’s feet move on the floor in the form of an eight. It is best to divide this dance step into two sections: First, perform the rotation and then practice the step in a fluid motion
- Easy giro (rotation)
- Touching the legs, the man gives impulses for the next movement during the tango. If the movement direction changes abruptly, one speaks of a Sacada, otherwise of an Entrada.
- Lapiz: Circular movement of the foot over the ground
- Barrida: One foot pushes the other’s foot
- Sanguchito: The man puts both feet around an unloaded leg of the woman
- Leg Hook: Can be performed in the air or on the leg of the partner.
- Axis tilts: forward or backward
- Brief release of the dance posture
Of course, there are also stage shows where professional dancers with rehearsed choreographies occur (“Tango de espectaculo” – stage tango).
How to find a dance partner? You would like to participate in a tango dance class as an individual? For some dance schools, couples as well as individuals can register. If only couple registrations are possible, e.g. the search via dance partner exchanges on the Internet can be helpful. You might give it a try under: “Tanzpartner.de” or “dance with me”.
Since I faced the same problem and my husband – apart from the waltz – is a “professional non-dancer”, I hired a professional as a dance partner without further ado. This is how you learn more individually and faster. Thanks, Andreas!
Which shoes to wear? Comfortable shoes are enough for the first Tango lessons, but special dance shoes with a chrome leather sole help practicing. This allows the ladies to easier perform rotations without slipping.
The shoe models you can choose according to your taste – the same applies to the heel height. For men’s shoes, a higher heel as well emphasizes and supports the hip movement – especially if you want to dance on a higher sportive level. My tip: better choose a front- closed model to protect the toes.
Which clothes are appropriate for Tango? Gentlemen usually wear a suit or dark trousers with a white shirt. The ladies a dress or a skirt; very often in combination with fishnet stockings. But looking at the roads in Argentina or Uruguay is enough to know that clothing is not crucial.
Remarks on tango music. The music of the tango is usually played in 4/8 tact, milonga in 2/4 tact and vals in 3/4 tact. A tango orchestra ususally consists of a piano, a double bass, two violins and two bandoneons. Well-known tango musicians are Osvaldo Fresedo, Pedro Laurenz, Astor Piazzolla, Lidia Borda, Carlos Gardel, Francisco Canaro and Luis Cardei.
Where can I learn to dance tango? Tango classes are suitable for both beginners and experts and usually last 10-12 hours. The cost for a course is approx. EURO 150.- per person.
However, there are also tango festivals and open tango events in many places, indoor or openair. Such as the Trocadero in Paris where dancers meet in the evening on a regulary basis.
The street tango in Buenos Aires exudes an almost magical flair when, on the edge of the Sunday market (morning flea market) in Buenos Aires (San Telmo or La Boca) caressing historic record players with funnel phones accompany the locals practicing their tango. Runs in stockings and smeared lipstick included – a world of nostalgia, exoticism and eroticism …. what a shiver feeling !!!
Today the scene in Europe is young and dynamic – the music is rediscovered and combined with other rhythms. Whether in Berlin, London, Paris or Moscow, in Rome, Tokyo or in the hometown Buenos Aires – the Tango Argentino is more popular than ever.
In short: meantime the tango is the cultural business card of Argentina and has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage in 2009.
My conclusion: Leadership is inspiring
In Tango most step sequences are improvised. That’s why the communication and relationship in the couple is especially important.
Being led by the dance partner therefore requires responsibility, trust and dedication. In doing so, improvision works better and gives the partner security and trust. It is a creative act that is more than the sum of two parts.
Leading and following in Tango does not mean that one dominates and the other one. It is an encounter of two equal personalities with separate but complementary qualities. Both partners are active, need to be sensitive, empathize and respond to each other spontaneously and creatively. Less head, more body. Think less, just move.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is a reaction, both are transformed. “(C.G. JUNG)
“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” (african proverb)