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Tango

The only thing better than watching somebody dance Tango is actually dancing it. Its quick movements and dramatic style make it very popular and make a great impression. Although most people believe it is very difficult to learn and master, the basics can be learned easily with some basic effort.

Below is a terrific introductory article where you can learn the basics and how to get started. You can help grow our learning community by contributing your knowledge to the article. Just click on the edit tab in the wiki article below.

Use the white subtabs above to navigate the other Tango resources. We have a Tango forum where you can get your questions & doubts answered, a page with Tango how-to videos, a page with the best handpicked links to other sites, and a page with the best Tango books and products.

Good Luck and Have Fun!
Duncan Davis

 

Intro


Tango is a lovely hobby and it is not surprising to find many people drawn to it. Tango is a dance form that involves the expression of feelings and you will see the dancers apparently gliding smoothly, in perfect sync with each other, performing complicated movements in time to the music. You too can enjoy Tango as a hobby. Here’s basic information about the types of tango, the types of music in tango, learning the tango and so on.




The Origins Of Tango


It is interesting to know that the Tango goes back as far as the 17th century to England. From England, it became the Contrdanse in France around 1700 from where it traveled to Spain as the Contradanza around 1750, to become the Danza in Cuba a quarter of a century later. This came to be known as the Habaner. The Tango as we know it today, evolved around 1910. From Cuba to Argentina seemed a natural route where it integrated with a variety of music and dance types, coloring it with Italian, Russian, Spanish, African and Polish forms. Around the 1940s the Tango took America and the rest of the world by storm.




Basics Of Tango


Tango is referred to as the ‘Dance of Love’. It is a Latin American Ballroom Dance that finds its origins in Argentina. Over time, Tango has evolved into different styles the world over. The concept basically is of two lovers being expressive with each other in different moods. One partner initiates movement with the heel of the foot. You will notice that eye contact is important in Tango.




Tango is danced in five beats, even though the rhythm is eight beats. Some beats are more stressed than others. The last beat could be a movement from the left to right or vice versa, or just a firm stomp.




Here Is A Very Quick Lesson For You:


As we mentioned earlier, you will take 5 steps in 8 beats. These are two beat measures in 4/4 time. Let us now put on a tango record or CD. Let your timing be Slow, Slow, Quick, Quick, Slow – that’s five beats. If you listen carefully, you will know where to start your lead step or the first slow step, usually done by the man. The woman’s step begins with her right foot brought backward, the opposite of the man’s step. So here you go – a slow left foot forward, a slow right foot forward, a quick left foot forward and a quick right foot forward, and then the left toe closes to right foot lightly, slowly.




That, in a nutshell is how you do the tango.




No drums are involved in tango music. Instead, you will find violins, piano, and the bandoneons. Bandoneons are German instruments that produce an accordion like sound.




Styles Of Tango


As far as styles of tango go, we will hear of these:




• Argentine Tango


• American Style Tango


• International Style Tango




Each have their own rules followed quite stringently at competitions.




Let us have a brief look at each style:


 



Argentine Tango


This has its beginnings in the West Indies and was confined to the ‘lower’ classes. ‘Tango’ comes from the African ‘Tanganya’. The Argnetine tango, also called the Arrabalero originates from the Gauchos of Buenos Aires where it was first danced. Argentine Tango has many variations called the Salon, Club, Fantasio, Nuevo, Club, Milonguero, and so on.


 



American Tango


American tango is performed at 32 measures per minute and 128-136 beats per minute in the 4/4 time. This style is structured to music and can be danced in the open as well as closed position.


 



International Tango


This is stricter and more disciplined, danced in the conventional closed positions and is the style you will see at the dance competitions and events.




There are also variations in tango like French Apache, which is danced to tango music and shows the tango dancers enacting a lovers tiff or passion. You will see the man fling the woman across the floor, while she crawls back, gracefully like a cat, to be embraced by him. This is not considered real tango since the steps are different from tango. The great Rudolf Valentino, an apache dancer, often danced the French Apache.




Tango Music


Carlos Gardel, a highly regarded tango singer in Argentina, is considered among the most well known and has been called the Voice of Tango. Different music styles in tango are the classic or conventional tango, the tango Nuevo that is a more recent form with difference in pace, instruments played, the Vals tango similar to waltzes, and the Milonga or the polka type tango which involves a faster beat and quicker steps.




Learning the Tango


Tango dance clubs and dance studios are the best places to learn the tango. You will also find plenty of private dance studios. Many colleges and universities have a Ballroom Dance Club where you can get classes if you are a student. A quick look through the yellow pages of your area or a search online will show you dance studios in your locality that you can contact.




Getting The Right Instructor To Progress In Tango


So how do you actually get ahead in tango? It is best to stick with one teacher and one style. Private lessons are advantageous because you get one on one attention. Group classes tend to minimize the contact with the teacher. It is important to find a tango instructor who understands what you want and is adequately qualified to teach it to you. Skilled tango dancers do not always make good teachers. You want to know for how long they have been teaching tango, the style they teach and who their tutor was. It is a good idea to experience a couple of classes before you decide to settle for the teacher. At the same time, moving from teacher to teacher can be confusing.




Progressing In Tango


When you learn the tango, do not judge your progress by the complex steps you learn. In tango, there are a specific number of basic movements, which are repetitive in variation. These must be mastered first. Just train your body to perform these movements and the variations will come easily through practice. The best way to progress in tango is to get private lessons in a particular style and then participate in ‘milongas’ where you can dance socially. This way you get the best of both worlds – the social interaction with expert dancers and private attention. This also builds your self-confidence and helps you build your own unique style. The best way to learn tango is in stages and practice regularly. After all, the idea is to have a lot of fun as you learn a dance form.




This information is only aimed at encouraging you to get started. You can find more information, useful tips at Discover A Hobby. There are also excellent instructional videos that will actually show you how to tango, featuring professional and stage dancers. Check out the great books listed that give you in depth information about Tango. In addition to these, there are many valuable links so that you can learn all you want about Tango. So go ahead, take the step and glide forward in your hobby.