Tango Argentino > Tango Vals

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by bordertangoman, May 8, 2009.

  1. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    "The practice of dancing Tango steps to the fast waltzes that were composed alongside Tango in Argentina in the 1930s through 1950s is a relatively recent development in Argentine Tango. The result is a fast, smooth dance that joins the seductive and rhythmic melodies of waltz to the complexities of Tango.

    Tango Vals utilizes almost the same vocabulary as Tango, the biggest difference perhaps being that in response to the music the dancers tend to choose more turning steps, and also choose not to pause as they frequently do in Tango.

    So, how do we take Tango, a 4/4 time dance and fit it to 3/4 time waltz music? Most of the waltz music used this way is fast enough so that stepping on all 3 beats of every measure would be exhausting. One popular and relaxed solution is to step only once per waltz measure, on the accented beat 1 of 3;

    Step on 1, no step on 2 or 3, step on 1, no step on 2 or 3, etc.
    Syncopated step patterns in Tango and Tango Vals: In Argentine Tango it is very common to move more quickly than the normal cadence simply by double timing, or stepping twice per 2 beats of music instead of the more basic once per 2 beats. This practice is widely referred to by dancers as syncopating. Syncopating steps is also popular in Tango Vals. It is accomplished by stepping on one or another of the two unaccented beats in the measure in conjunction with the first beat, for example on 1 and 3, or on 1 and 2. The next step in either of these situations would be on 1 of the next measure, so that the pattern of steps over two measures of 3 beats each becomes:
    Step on 1, no step on 2, step on 3, step on 1, no step on 2 or 3. We'll refer to this rhythm pattern as 1, 3, 1
    Step on 1, step on 2, no step on 3, step on 1, no step on 2 or 3, which we'll refer to as 1, 2, 1
    You'll see many instances of these various rhythm patterns in the figures, and you may note that the step on the unaccented beat (2 or 3) is often a shorter step in length, landing next to or just beyond the previous step.

    Although some dancers never syncopate, stepping on only beat 1 of the measure, the reverse is not true. No one syncopates every measure in Vals. The syncopations are occasional individual expressions of the music and are always combined with some slow steps.

    Kelly Ray & Lesley Mitchell

    I see a lot of people dancing it with not much more than treating it as a different rhythm. Is this the consequence of a crowded dance floor. If space allows I prefer a moving turn changing in and out of X-system.

    how do you dance tango vals?

    "given that vals encourages you to keep moving,how do you dance it milonguero?" CJ
  2. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

  3. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Is your definition of movement meant to be traveling, as in, only down the floor?

    It would be ideal to always be able to move but this in not always possible in crowds or small floors so you have to start getting creative with small variations or repitions of movement and dynamic within the space you have to work with without so much movement down the floor if that's how it works out. I guess to me, that's a big way to create the feeling of movement without having traveled too far down the floor...you aren't stalled to a halt doing rock-step-side because you have no small space vocabulary, but rather utilize variations of small turns and other elements and interesting rhythm changes to keep movement and dynamic in the dance.

    The way I have learned the Vals timing is creating a feeling of suspension and release with the syncopations (usually 1,2-1 more than the 1,3-1) which changes the feeling of the way the steps are being danced.
  4. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    that's why I ask the question. I get very frustrated by vals if there isnt enough space; for me if you cant get that flowing movement ( like for some of the time at Camdridge last weekend I'd rather not dance vals. I got hemmed in; had barely space to lead my partner into an ocho :))

    if you had the space how would you dance it?

    as to timing; gosh there are so many possibilities

    I like leading the woman into 1-2 or 1-2-3 as I dance only on 1

    or reverse this so she does ochos and I do 1/2/3
  5. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Re: Vals

    Hi BTA, thanks for this thread, think it is an important statement.

    And, for the same reasons as cited above, I never use the word tango vals. Its a dance of its own. So lets talk of vals argentino or AW.

  6. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but I do not ;)

    I think it is far more important to dance according to the melody.
  7. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Getting hemmed in is very common, most especially in a packed house. Like you, it becomes problematic for me in the waltz. I had to adapt.

    This is when you pull out your milonguero reprtoire. Start doing ocho cortados, giros, molintes, milonguero turns, etc, etc. in milonguero style. That way, you don't loose momentum and can dance in a small compact space. You really don't need that much to begin with.
  8. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    I tend to dance to 3-time music with greater flow and movement. I do wish to progress or rotate more quickly than I might in milonga or normal tango, because of the lovely long undulating phrases.

    I have never been taught to do anything technically different, but I sustain, suspend and rotate more as it seems to suit. With great attention I prevent myself from doing the corresponding limp that people often create when doing 1/3 or 1/2 steps.

    I am not aware that there is any specific repertoire more suited to it, but there must be flow, which automatically removes certain combinations. For me, vals is the home of the single axis turn.

    Recently, I have tried dancing vals with incredible slowness, trying to express the motion differently, and it has worked surprisingly well. That would be dancing only a few steps in say 4 bars, as opposed to religiously hitting every 1 and opting for 2's and 3's when I want.
  9. Tango Bellingham

    Tango Bellingham New Member

    Here's a good example of how to dance it from Detlef & Melina:


    Notice how Detlef uses the 1, 1&2, 1&3, and 1&2&3 patterns, in addition to nice tight turns and corridas. The only ones I can't see him using is the weird syncopations like 2&3, or just 2, or just 3.
  10. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

  11. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I don't know...
    "Relatively recent"?

    QUEJAS DEL ALMA (TANGO) Letra de Guillermo Barbieri Musica de Guillermo Barbieri
    Grabado por Carlos Gardel en 1925.

    Same song? is a vals http://www.todotango.com/english/las_obras/partitura.aspx?id=4273 in 3/4 time.
    (Elvis Scotty and Bill turned Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon of Kentucky", a waltz, into a song played in 4/4, one of their biggest early hits.)

    Many tangos are in fact in 2/4 time, and I was not aware of the fact the Tango, the dance was "a 4/4 dance".

    I wonder if they aren't assuming people only did "tango" back then. Milonga, and vals have probably always been part of the dance scene. Today, at country western clubs, people dance to many kinds of songs, just like they have for a long long time.
    This business of putting everything in its own "genre" is an artifact of the recording industry and marketing to the public.

    Anyhow, something else to investigate.

    If I hadn't already spent so much time learned about this stuff, this would be confusing as all get out. As it is, I had to read it several times before I figured out what they were trying to say. Syncopation has many meanings.

    The best description of waltz/vals that I have come across is the the first beat is a down beat and it is followed by two up beats.
    When you look at the way the music is written down using the standard notation, you see a variety of means to record the "waltz feel". And some of it doesn't show up in the notation at all, except that it is noted as 3/4.

    Take a listen to these examples.
    Corazón de oro
    Desde el alma

    Some fast, some slow.

    In the world of Argentine Tango you don't HAVE to step on every beat. That's one of the thing I like about it.
    Problem is, most of us have been doing regular waltz for a long time. Partly because I think I've had good teachers and have taken the right lessons (in Portland AT musicality lessons/courses have been offered), I find it fairly easy to vary when I take any particular step in the music, as Kelly and Lesly write is possible.
    (Calling it syncopating, though actually correct, will, I think confuse most people. We still struggle with "regular syncopating", which, if you read the old pros involves spliting a time interval unevenly.)
    Many of the women I dance with get confused when I vary the timing. It feels that the connection goes away, and after a short time, I go back to more regular timing.
    (Cacho Dante had a fairly straightforward suggestion for making vals feel "fresh", or some such wording.)

    Just like just sort of have certain expections for when we step, or what direction we will turn, etc, I think we want to dance vals with the same big, traveling steps as when we dance waltz and travel.
    It IS possible to put that same feeling of "suspension", or "flowing" into smaller steps, weight changes, and even "rising" and "falling" without moving your feet. If you dance in crowded conditions you have a very good incentive to learn how to do this. It really isn't an easy thing to get, but it CAN be done.
  12. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    It's no big deal, but as OD eluded to, the argentines hate it when vals is called tango vals. I've heard them snarl at many a person in many a workshop.

    There are some fundamental diffs that often get overlooked. The dances (AV and AT), though they crossover steps, are different. They are stepped differently, and moved differently. And, they are definitely shaped and characterized differently. When one is dancing in a smaller space, yes, the style may be changed to accommodate the space, but one can also still dance smoothly and elegantly w/o stretching out and gliding. The smoothness of teh dance isn't totally encompassed in the feet; dance is a total body project, and the softness, and gliding feeling, may be acheived through the way the body is carried over the steps whether long or short.

    I was just wondering why there was so much talk on the thread of the speed of vals, and no one seemed to realize the float/slowness of it, until I read.....
    Bravo! Indeed!
    All dances...smooth like waltz, fox, tango, even quicksteps including candombes/canyengues should be danced like this.
    I really do not like her feet and legs.
  13. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    In a lot of early sheet music tangos were written with a 2/4 signature. Then in the 30s this changed to 4/4 sigs. (source: double-bassist Pablo Aslan's MFA thesis.) May have something to do with the way orchestras have changed the way they play the music. Or possibly it's just a more convenient way to write down more complicated compositions.

    Probably the way we all ought to learn vals first, and then open up the way we dance when the milonga opens up, or is just open to begin with.

    Physically? She doesn't look that overweight. Or is it styling?

    Here's my favorite vals by them.


    They are a charming couple and good teachers, incidentally. And their English is good even though they are German.

  14. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    thanks for all your replies; I didnt know that there was such strong feeling about whether its called vals or tango vals; I assumed this was to distinguish it from ballroom waltz.

    there are some nice turns in this example (if you have the space)


    I agree it should flow.I dont find the Detlef & Melina example particularly inspiring
    and I think the options of picking out the rhythm or phrasing are a no-brainer.

    Angel/Kierons comments on slowness are interesting and I shall probably experiment with these.

    one of my favourite modern vals is Quiero Ser Tu Sombra by Trio Garufa: where the tempo slows up and down.
  15. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    Think glacial without holding up the dance floor too much. Say a phrase lasts 4 bars of music, and has a running patter, i.e. 4 lots of 6 double-time notes. This sort of thing is pretty common in vals music, usually in short spurts. My first instinct is to whirl round in circles to that sort of thing. Instead of running with it, I tried using the start of that phrase to lead a step across me and then the rest of the frilly details reflected in a single ocho pivot, slow and smooth that leads into the next phrase. One discrete step that lasts four whole bars of whirling excitement.

    From this simple beginning I ended up with a very different dance. It didn't feel inappropriate at all. I had to fall back into regular speed from time to time, and I think it was good to do so, but with a new precedent set for my partner, it was easier to return to "quarter time" or whatever you might like to call it. It was really very challenging for me to keep the dance happening through these slow movements, but it was worth every ounce of mental sweat.

    Actually, I'm kicking myself right now for not trying to carry it off more. I'm making a mental note for milongas next weekend.
  16. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi larrynla, cannot find the thread about this topic again (Milongas or fast Tangos). But, I remember, that I checked some scores and found out, that sometimes the signature is irrelevant: A lot of pieces with a 2/4 rhythm (Milonga) are written in 4/4 signature and vice versa.

    Thanks, finally I know why my english is so bad :idea:
  17. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    This is one of my favourites, too. And the turns: last year I tried like mad to manage these right-hand alteraciones between 0:42-0:48 and the side-volcadas between 0:55-1:02 properly :D
  18. DoraTheExplorer

    DoraTheExplorer New Member

    I completely agree with you. He looks very sloppy and clumsy.
  19. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    its pretty much a simple cadena; i'm working on a milonguero turn with a cross behind.
  20. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    Thanks for the laugh!

    Though if your written English is an example your mastery of English is better than that of most born to the language.

    I also like the example bordertangoman gave.


    This is a performance and they have a lot of floor space and use it. But I notice that their embrace and the movements they use are quite compact and could be fitted into a much tighter space.


Share This Page