Sunday, 9 August 2015

'...and the Tango was born. Come and learn the basic steps!'

It's so dismaying to keep reading this view of tango! Not that there aren't basic steps: of course there are! It's knowing that when teachers talk about teaching 'basic steps' they mean teaching patterns they call salidas, giros, sacadas... 

What are the basic steps we learn when we go to pre-milonga classes in Buenos Aires? The first two are putting one foot in front of the other, or behind it -- walking. A simple act we take for granted. But walking is not that simple in dancing tango. Why else would beginners and more advanced dancers alike at group classes in Buenos Aires spend 30 or 40 minutes at the start of each class they go to, practicing walking? Stepping forwards, stepping back, with teachers and their assistants coming round to help you get it right, to get your walking so it works well when you dance in close embrace, and so it looks good. & it's not so much about walking to the music as it's taken for granted that timing is precise. It's the way of walking that matters, the way of using energy. Simple patterns of steps are also taught, but the priority is how you walk, the basic steps of tango.

If we try to walk in close embrace in the same way we walk on the streets, or the same way we step backwards in daily life without reconsidering the way we walk, our tango will be awkward, insipid, and probably uncomfortable to our partners. It's a different kind of walking, and moreover we need to learn how to make each step count. This is tango from the inside, not just the superficial appearance of tango footwork. It's never insipid, it doesn't look awkward, and it's unlikely ever to feel uncomfortable.


Francesca said...


Tangocommuter said...

Thanks, Francesca!