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The Beautiful Dance, the Tango
The Tango is a compelling and complex dance, a meeting of two individuals who have learned all the ways to express sadness and passion through dance. The basic slow, slow, quick, quick, slow rhythm gently coerces the couple to pay attention to each other alone, but what comes next. It is not easy to master the Argentine Tango, it may be years until you can attend your first milonga and even the beginner’s steps look sophisticated, but still, let’s look at the ten hardest Tango moves to learn, before you call yourself a true Tanguero.
A step called the Castigada is one of low complexity, in which the woman or follower, (the roles in the Argentinian tango do not have to be gender specific.) kicks his/her moving leg backwards across the axis, or still leg and then as he/she steps forward over the leader’s out-thrust leg the follower runs his/her toe up the side of the leader’s calf.
A slightly more difficult step is the Sanguchito in which the leader sandwiches the follower’s foot between both of his own feet, causing the follower to delicately and suggestively step over the leader’s blocking leg.
In a step called the Sacada the legs of the two dance partners imitate the legs of the cicada – they rub against each other. While the partner’s legs are rubbing together, their upper bodies twist in towards each other and then untwist as the follower once again steps across the leg of the leader.
The backward ocho is a type of swivelling backward step which is initiated by the leader as he/she turns the shoulders and upper body of the follower. The follower is then invitingly swivelling from side to side in front of the leader, who is moving the follower in a backward direction.
The Colgada is a fancy series of steps in which the couple hang their weight off each other by displacing their hips from their shared central axis into a slightly outward or sitting position. The follower then pivots around the leader’s foot in an airy, suspended movement.
The step known as the Molinete is a movement that imitates that of a windmill as the follower dances provocatively around the leader in a series of forward and backward Ochos. The dancing partners lean the upper portion of their chests together as the follower executes the side/backward/side/forward steps.
The Doble Frente is the style of Tango in which the dance partners dance in the Shadow Position, so that Doble Frente can then be translated as “two fronts.” This style originated in the milongas and practicos of Buenos Aires in the 1940’s. All Tango steps and movements can be performed and improvised in the Doble Frente or Tango Al Reves style.
The movement called the Enrosque is a difficult one, which involves a corkscrew like twirl or turn. The follower can perform the Enrosque with no change of weight while the leader may change weight or not. To do this action, feel the beat of the music, slow down the rhythm of your dance steps and then burst in the Enrosque to show an explosion of energy.
The combination of steps called the Gancho Sentado flows toward the moment where the follower is seated lightly on the leader’s knee, so these movements do have the feeling of culmination or the finale of a dance routine. The follower is led into a back step where he/she then performs the Gancho or hook movement. The leader then moves the follower forward into a lunge position and then the follower is lifted onto the leader’s knee.
The word Adornos is translated as embellishments, so Adornos or embellishments are mainly part of the expression of the follower. There are many embellishments which can be performed during pauses in the music or the dance, to indicate emotion whilst not interrupting the flow of the dance. Some of these embellishments are the Amague or feint which may be a foot stamp or a faked side step and the Gancho, in which the lead or the follower swings the leg up to wrap around the partner’s leg. A Tanguero can practise Adornos throughout their life as a dancer.
The Tango has its own beautiful history. Jorge Luis Borgẻs says that the Argentinian people recognise themselves absolutely in this dance with its nostalgic and melancholy music. This soulful dance was born in the 1880’s and its expressive rhythms reflect the sensibilities of the wide cultural mix of peoples that lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina and danced away their sorrow there. The Tango speaks for the world’s displaced people.