Tango Basic Timing


Well-Known Member
Hey whatever works for you...

I had a profoundly deaf student. He was amazing to work with. One of the things we had to overcome was how to talk about timing. Since slows and quicks and beats didn't mean anything to him we devised our own method. Somewhere I still have his spreadsheet of "tango babbles". He could feel the vibration in my back with his right hand. So I would babble out different sounds that felt different to him. And he learned to interpret them as different speeds and types of movement.
I had exactly the same thing, but a lady. She told me the vibrations were her guide.
But, the most amazing student ( not mine ) was a guy taught by a lady I was coaching , not with him, and she used to take him dancing to a very large social in St. Pete. He NEVER bumped into people on a crowded floor.

Reminds me of a special I watched last year about a man who rode a bike on the road and said he used echo feed back. I believe they planned the route by distance and buildings .


Active Member
I love Larinda's explanation.

I would say, in addition to the idea of explosions and light and shade, the ideas of "Quicks" and "Slows" merits exploration in its own right. A"Slow" is generally regarded as two beats of music, while a "Quick" is regarded as one (feel free to correct me there). Often, when we hear these terms we think that those actions must be performed that way; they musn't. The understanding of relativity then comes into play (a "Foxtrot Slow" or a "Cha Cha Slow" are two different "Slows," for example), and tempi play a huge impact as well -- the space between beats, the supposed '&'-'ah's of the music, as it were.

Here is where the ideas presented by Larinda are important. It's the idea of expression, most importantly, as different people express the same thing differently. For me, I always go back to the idea that we think "Quicks" have to be danced quickly, and "Slows" slowly. A "Quick" is relative only to the "Slow" that precedes it, and vice versa; that is to say, it "feels" quicker because you had one beat to transfer weight rather than two, and so it's more 'compact,' as it were. At the end of the day it comes down to your own individual interpretation of the music (how you're counting) and control [of technique] (what actions you've come to associate with that particular count).

Here's an example that I hope helps clarify what I am saying. Take The Link, that move that comes at "the end of a Basic that connects the Basic and the Promenade." It's technical counts are "QQ," or, I suppose, 7-8. But let's ask this question: what are the movements associated with the pattern, and then, is there enough time to perform all of these actions in the given time?

Here's where it becomes important to understand where dancing happens, and what dancing is. Dancing happens inside the body, around the spine, within the confines of the parameters of one's foot/feet. That is, your step cannot be any longer or wider than your foot from heel to toe(s), and outer edge to outer edge. The width of the space between your feet can be widened, but that's a different thing.

Does that make sense? So, given that, we again return to the question: is there enough time being given to us to perform the required actions (required in the sense of the syllabus and technique to make the figure feel authentic, natural, and smooth)? This is where the different forms of counting come into play. We can then change the count(s) even to something akin to "aQ&aQ&" assigning specific actions to each individual count. We can break that down into numerical counts, too, getting down to 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 notes, etc.

It comes down to the idea of 'how much time is needed to transfer weight, is there enough time to communicate to my partner the pertinent information and what is the most effective way to do so'? And so now we get to the ideas that we "step on 2" rather than "1;" (in a sense redefining what it means to "step," and what a "step" really is) and extending the leg prior to moving, using the standing leg, stretching this part of our body or that part this or that way creates the illusion and feeling(s) of quickness and slowness, which then turns into the "counts" we use.

That, in turn, turns into "light" and "shade," "sharp" and "soft," etc....

...and again, we circularly return to the idea of individual expression in that everyone hears, understands, interprets, and comes to associate different movements with different parts of the music. In the end, it's what makes sense to you; your teacher is just presenting an alternative to counting, a more in depth way of understanding and interpreting what was taught before.

I hope I didn't ramble on for too long and things make sense.... I never know.
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