Don’t study it, learn it   Leave a comment

Don’t study it, learn it

People who love to dance don’t study salsa, swing, or zydeco. Only in the realm of the Argentine tango a woman might announce that she will spend the next twelve months studying embellishments, and a guy would introduce himself by stating how many years he’s been studying tango. These men and women are not natives of the country that generously shares its popular dance with the rest of the world. They don’t know that Argentine tango is not to be studied, it is to be learned.

For example, the first thing to be learned is that steps are classified into three categories: openings, inside crosses, and outside crosses. They can be executed on a clockwise and counterclockwise trajectory for a total of six fundamental movements of the legs. Simply put, in tango we will always use one of these six fundamental movements to define, describe, and execute every pattern. So, it is important that you learn to identify each step as being one of these six fundamental movements. Remember that when you dance, your partner will be either to your left or to your right. When partners are to the right of each other, a forward motion of the right leg is considered an inside cross to the right because from the vantage point of your partner, your right leg seems to be crossed in front of or inside the left leg. Similarly, a back motion of the left leg is considered an outside cross to the left because from your partner’s point of view, the left leg appears as if it is crossed behind or outside the right leg.

When partners are to the left of each other, a forward motion of the left leg is considered an inside cross to the left because from the vantage point of your partner, your left leg seems to be crossed in front or inside the right leg. Similarly, a back motion of the right leg is considered an outside cross to the right because from your partner’s point of view, the right leg appears as if it is crossed behind or outside the left leg.
The remaining two fundamental movements are openings, one with the right leg and one with the left leg. Except at the beginning of the dance when the dancers choose to start with a lateral opening (side step), all lateral openings follow crosses if moving in the same direction, or another lateral opening if changing directions.

When your partner is to your right, a forward motion of the left leg becomes an opening because the leg is outside from your partner’s point of view. When your partner is to your left, a forward motion of the right leg becomes an opening because the leg is outside from your partner’s point of view. Similarly, when your partner is to your right, a back motion of the right leg becomes an opening to the left, the degree of which is determined by whether your partner is moving in the same direction as you are. Finally, when your partner is to your left, a back motion of the left leg becomes an opening to the right, the degree of which is determined by whether your partner is moving in the same direction as you are.

When walking the tango we use a very simple strategy, we take two steps, one with each leg, and then we do something else, anything but taking a third step because that would mean repeating the first step, and although that technically can be called a walk, it is not a tango walk.

The topic of this lesson is the use of this strategy to create four different sequences that link seamlessly with each other to create an apparent long sequence.
The first sequence begins at 6:00 after the man opens long to his left to clear his right leg for the first forward step. The woman opens short to her right to allow the man to be on her her right.
The man takes two forward steps and the woman takes two back steps. Then, the man brings his right foot next to his left to close, and the women brings her left over her right to cross.

The next sequence begins at 12:00 when the man marks a forward step for the woman from the cruzada position. He stays on his left axis while extending his right leg to spot the point where the woman steps forward. Then he changes her direction so her second step is forward to where she came from, and the spot he points with a forward extension of his right leg. The man begins to bring her to his left by beginning a half a turn and thus, making her do something else, i.e. an opening instead of a third forward step.

At 19:00 the man repeats his two forward steps and holds on the third, while the woman repeats her two back steps and the cross. The three sequences are repeated for your review, and then at 32:00 the fourth sequence starts from the cruzada. The man steps back twice and then opens to his left beginning a new salida.

Observe how stringing the four sequences together allows to dance around the floor in a very credible way making use of the simple strategy you learned in this lesson.
Now, forget about studying, dance what you learned.

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Posted August 21, 2011 by Alberto & Valorie in Gotta Tango

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