General Dance Discussion > Argentine Tango or Ballroom Tango?

Discussion in 'General Dance Discussion' started by DanceMentor, Apr 14, 2003.


Do you prefer Argentine Tango or Ballroom Tango?

  1. Argentine Tango

  2. Ballroom Tango

  1. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Yes. For any dance that has a well-defined style, technique, and expression.
    Of course, to point out the obvious,
    there's improvisation (unabashed gesticulation, in all its misinformed, uneducated, and ill-suited glory),
    and there's improvisation (see post 99 :

    Oh, that old rhubarb that ballroom is stiff and rigid--and not subject to improvisation--stems from not really understanding the reason for the figures (and the elements thereof).

    One of the bad bad boys in all that is the underlying business method in teaching it---perpetuated by the zealous acolytes of the stodgily pedantic (but that's a different thread---viva la revolucion!).

    But I digress.

    The irony of it all (and I guess my point and answer to your question) is, in the hands of the right TECHNICAL teacher, you can learn improvisation early--in this instance, ballroom, but certainly true for ANY dance (true, at least in my experience with my mentors).

    IMO, the more TECHNICALLY ADEPT the teacher is, the better the understanding of how to improvise---which can only translate to their students' picking-up the ability.

  2. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    You talk about forms, but I guess my real questions are, does it get distilled down to every step of the foot? And if so, at what point does that get taught? And if it does get taught, how common is it in social dancing to see a couple dancing that way?

    Not trying to be adversarial, I am really curious. I have been thinking about taking up BR again at some point, and it would be nice to know what kinds of questions I should ask a potential teacher.
  3. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    [I see the questions as perfectly reasonable---not adversarial]

    With mastery comes acquiring wider vocabulary of the subject.
    So let's agree on a couple of terms:

    Form--(for a specific style as opposed to the more generalized "Dance Forms" I mentioned in an earlier post)---refers to one's external appearance; if you will, a snapshot of how a DANCE STYLE should be structured physically.
    This includes details about posture, poise, alignments (relative placement of limbs & body, you and your partner's relative positions to each other, and your relative alignments to the room).
    There's physical form, and there's visual (or apparent form, ie, the illusion you create--such as the actual vs. apparent distance between a couple's heads).

    Technical Movement---is a series of forms that are set into motion.
    This includes leg, knee, ankle, and toe articulations, as well as dynamic changes in the body (to accommodate the illusion, or visual form).

    At what point this is taught in traditional ballroom?

    Components of the above are taught in varying degrees, by varying teachers.
    Some more (or less) than others---some are not taught these matters unless required by the student (particularly those more interested in quality movement).

    My own training was unique in that I asked my early mentors to teach me the technical aspects much earlier (when I was just starting--pre-bronze, I suppose).
    So we started with how to achieve balance, how to move forwards and back, how to rotate,
    and relegated the study of the figures themselves to be incidental to movement, rather than the other way around.
    Most dancers (particularly purely social-oriented ones) probably don't start to look at these details until they are beyond Intermediate.

    What questions to ask the teacher?

    Questions about movement, rather than figures would be a good starting point.
    How is the body propelled through space (ie the dance floor).
    What are the different technical ways to step forwards, backwards, sidewards? (There are several)
    What are the different techniques for lowering? (again there are several).
    What are the technical differences among forward locks in foxtrot, quickstep, chacha, rumba?
    These are matters of minutiae, to be sure, but they are important if one is to understand how to improvise properly.
    The old barb about knowing the rules so you can break them---advisedly, of course.

    I suppose it starts with understanding that if one is focused on figures, then all you're learning is a template---there is no creativity.

    True dancing (in this particular: ballroom/latin) is like learning a language.
    If you just study a phrase book of standard figures, then all you can do is be a parrot and simply repeat a template.
    This is the unfortunate, but usual approach by studios (depending on their syllabi).
    This is also why the misconception of rigidity exists.

    If, however, you study a language's components, structure, and vocabulary, then you can create sentences on your own.
    (And there are quality teachers out there who promote this style of learning too).

    Once you've mastered those, then you can learn to express yourself fully.

    That's when you start creating poetry.

  4. Terpsichorean Clod

    Terpsichorean Clod Well-Known Member

    Well, not necessarily... ;)

    At USA Dance comps, tango is usually offered only at Gold, Prechamp, and Open. Collegiate comps often offer tango as a separate single dance. And if there's no getting around it and tango is part of the multi-dance event, as long as you win the other four dances (and assuming 6 couple final), you can skip tango and still take at least 2nd overall. ;)

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