Ballroom Dance > Int. Tango Basic Movement Questions

Discussion in 'Ballroom Dance' started by paintanker, Sep 24, 2012.

  1. paintanker

    paintanker Member

    I'm not really a standard guy at all, so my knowledge of the 5 dances is really limited, but I tried dancing International Tango with someone the other day, and it just wasn't working. Finally, we found out that each of us had a different impression of how Tango was supposed to move, so I'd like to ask the Standard experts here.

    1. On forward steps, do the feet stretch out before the body like in waltz, or does the body move first while the hold to the last second? Backward steps?
    2. Are the feet placed in a staccato manner, or are they placed smoothly?
    3. Does the body move in a staccato manner, or does it move smoothly across the floor?
    4. Do all the pros use leg connection in Tango?

  2. bia

    bia Well-Known Member

    Funny, this is one of the first bad habits our teacher worked on beating out of us after we started working with him; it's an issue in all dances, but somehow it caused us the most trouble in tango. Whatever direction you're going, in any standard dance, the feet never move before the body; instead, it's the movement that places the feet. If the person going forward sticks his/her feet out before moving the body, the partner never feels a cue to get out of the way, so the forward-going person feels blocked, and the backwards-going person gets stepped on.
    Staccato. Which means that the answer above, while true for all standard dances, is even more true for tango, because the longer the feet wait to move, the more sharply they can move.

    I'll leave the rest of the questions to someone else.

    Actually, now that I think about it, I think I have something to say about this one, too. My understanding (open to revision based on input from someone more knowledgeable) is that the body moves smoothly when going in the same direction, but changes in direction are generally sharp. While trying to get staccato feet, my DH has sometimes ended up with jerky forward movement, and that's very unclear and disconcerting to me as a follower. I'm glad that seems to have been a short-lived phase. But of course changes to promenade are sharp, in great contrast to, e.g., changes to promenade in waltz.
  3. paintanker

    paintanker Member

    Thank you very much for your help, Bia.
  4. Mengu

    Mengu Well-Known Member

    It's an interesting topic. At first I too was taught body first. Which was important when I was learning to lead, and trying to get a feel for the dance, but after a while (a long while in my case) I was told my tango looks like I'm falling forward in a choppy manner. Once we were more comfortable with the concept of using the standing leg to help initiate movement, it was time to reverse gears, and start to become aware of the traveling foot being ahead. So now I have to think more consciously of the speed and placement of my traveling foot. But this is only achieved after some of the other basics are in place. For instance if there is a tendency to be back weighted (due to poor footwork, weak core, partnership issues, lack of awareness, most of which I've experienced), trying to move the foot ahead of the body may compound the issue. It's a delicate matter. I would say it's not something to focus on, or strive for, it's something to simply be aware of.

    I think 2 & 3 are the more important goals, feet can be sometimes staccato, sometimes slow (or I like to think prowling), depending on steps, choreography, music, etc. Movement across the floor I think should generally be smooth (unless choreography demands otherwise). And this again is why I feel the feet must travel ahead of the body. Traveling foot moves twice the distance our body travels when we take a step. If the traveling foot is not ahead of the body, then the body must wait for the next traveling foot to catch up (lest we fall), resulting in either choppy movement, or not very much movement at all. In traveling steps, for the same reasons the foot is placed ahead of the body in waltz and foxtrot, it seems logical that the foot should be placed ahead of the body in tango too.
  5. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    All the above are very good questions. They really need to be explained in detail by a professional ,who has a long working knowledge about the subtleties of the dance .

    Its unique in the respect that its not a " swing " dance..i.e. motion generated by "swinging " leg/foot into specific directions.

    The term you will become used to, is " pick and place " , if you pursue further knowledge .
    Warren J. Dew likes this.
  6. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    One misconception I had for a long time was about there being no "rise and fall" in tango. I tried to dance everything at the same level. I think it is important not to try to make tango into something that is too separated from how you would naturally move. To move, you soften one knee as you extend your free leg. By softening, you do in essence "lower" to move. You just want to avoid rising too much.

    As for staccato action, I wouldn't do anything too unnatural to achieve this. Probably more important is simply to have a very clear rhythm. Make sure your slows and quicks are clear.

    I wouldn't get too hung up on leg connection. More important is you have a sense of partnership so that you feel you are moving together.
  7. vit

    vit Active Member

    I'm really not a fan of statements like "body first" and about a hundred other which are used by teachers, because they are usually big oversimplifications, so every student has its own perception of their meaning, resulting in things like falling forward etc

    The fact is - feet are stationary on the floor part of the time during the dance, while the body is moving almost constantly (although not with constant speed). So obviously the speed of feet, when they are moving, is much higher than the speed of the body, because their average speed must be about the same as the average speed of the body. So what happens when dancing or walking is that moving foot usually starts moving when it is somewhere behind the body and finishes the movement somewhere in front of the body (when moving forward). Just exactly when and how it happens IS different among dances
    Warren J. Dew likes this.

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