Category Archives: Tango Sueño Tip of the Week

Tango Sueño Tip of the Week, edited by Gem Duras in his weekly newsletter for his students, since April 2013.

Stepping side or back?

This is the Tango Sueño Tip of the week from 2/9/2015. I am trying to emphasize this issue in classes as I see ever more frequently that some leaders are totally confused and unable to dance because of trying to avoid any back step.

Stepping Side: although the eight count tango basic and “la baldosa” pattern start with the leader stepping back, it is prudent and common to start the dance with a side step to avoid running into others, especially in a crowded venue. It is however important to interpret this convention correctly:

– It is OK to take other back steps during the dance, in fact necessary.
– It is OK to take back steps traveling towards the line of dance.
– It is important to prepare the follower for a side step, with a weight change.
– Even with a side step, it is better to count “one”, “two”, so that the basic or the baldosa stays with the same beat count.
– It is OK to practice with the back salida especially for beginners; this makes it easier to understand and repeat the pattern consecutively.

Fast or Slow?

This is the tip of the week I sent to my list on June 6, 2013. The way movements look in tango sometimes creates illusions about their speed and timing. Less experienced dancers try make all steps faster without realizing the differences in energy.

Tango Tip of the week: Fast or slow? The perception of speed in tango comes from sharp free leg movements. The steps themselves are not as fast as the front and back boleos (kicks). Guys, slow down your walk, control the pace of steps; hold additional beats. Ladies, in tango it is always better if you are late than early. If you are behind, you can still feel the upcoming figure. If you are ahead it is a lost step. Remember: walk slowly, embellish fast!

Ball or Heel?

This is the tip of the week from June 2013. There has been various misunderstandings about this issue throughout tango communities. What one does is very personal; high level professionals and instructors use their heels and ball of the foot in various ways depending on context, sometimes even contradicting the recommendations they might be giving in a class. It is better to avoid rigid rules…

Tango Tip of the week: Ball or heel? There is much confusion as to whether to step with the ball of the foot first or using the heel. Unfortunately there is no simple answer, and the details need to be discussed in classes. Ladies: If you are dancing close and ending up with short steps, you can stay on the ball of the foot more of the time. Otherwise, whenever you need support, regardless of what the man does, use your heel to support yourself. Guys: You actually need to support your partner to some extend, so make sure to be well grounded using your heel when technically required.

The Tango Embrace

Here is the tip of the week from May 2013.

Tango Tip of the week: Many Argentineans end their correspondence with “Un abrazo” or “A hug – embrace”. This is also a significant part of the social life in Argentina; friends give long hugs to each other when they meet. Same in tango, instead of thinking of a rigid technical concept such as “the dance frame” simply hug your partner passionately when you dance tango! Un fuerte abrazo!

What is the Axis?

This is the Tango Sueño Tip from May 20, 2013. Although many teachers talk about the axis, I don’t think most students clearly understand what it is or how it is relevant to the dance. I will expand on the topic in the future.

Tango Tip of the week: Axis: “A straight line about which a body or a geometric figure rotates or may be supposed to rotate – Merriam-Webster”. Think about your axis! Even if you dance close embrace, you need to be on your own axis. Give your partner his or her freedom while enjoying the dance together!

Class Etiquette

This is the Sueno Tip of the week from May 13, 2013. Over the years I have consistently observed that the many tango students are tempted to try to “correct” their partners’ dancing during a class. Perhaps this is related to the close connection of tango, but I find it unproductive.

Tango Tip of the week: Classes are for improving your own dancing. It is not appropriate to give unsolicited advice to your classmates, regardless of your level and experience (discussions are OK -if initiated by your partner). Guys: Ask yourself what you can do with your body to convey your intentions to your partner, especially if a figure does not work. Ladies, ask yourself what you can do to protect your own balance and to understand your partner’s intention, even if he is not doing the figure cleanly!

Milonga Etiquette

This is the Tango Sueño Tip of the Week from May 5, 2013

Tango Tip of the week: Milongas are for applying what is learned at class and enjoying a social atmosphere while dancing with others. As much as they are essential for improving your dancing, the social aspect is important. Therefore guys: at a milonga don’t keep leading a step continuously if it does not work regardless of who is at fault. It does not matter, the goal is to enjoy the dance. Ladies, if your partner does not dance perfectly please be patient and adapt to what he is doing, that is the art of the female in tango. Both parties: it is not appropriate to discuss steps or try to instruct your partner while dancing at a milonga. It is even worse to stop in the middle of the dance floor for that purpose. Discussions about figures and technique belong to classes and practicas!

“Slow” is the word

Here is the Tango Sueño Tip of the Week that I sent to my students last Monday. Sometimes I think one assumes that trying to work on a step slowly will not help for executing it at a faster tempo. It is actually just the opposite, albeit counter intuitive.

Tango Tip of the week: “Slow” is the word for strength and control. We start walking at a very young age, yet why is it so difficult to walk with the music in tango? Why is it so tricky to do a sacada?

Tango features many complicated moves which require controlling the body in subtle ways. To walk on the beat with any tempo one has to learn to adjust the pace of leg movement, hence muscle control. To do a sacada in sync with a partner one has to turn the chest at the correct pace, hence muscle control.

Weight trainers and yogi’s already know it: Training slowly increases intensity and efficiency. Doing a move very slowly eliminates momentum and impulse, which in turn causes the muscles work much harder and develop faster. Same in tango: practicing a walk or a new pattern at a slow pace develops the relevant muscles much more efficiently, creating better control and accuracy.

Slow is the word. Don’t be one of those who dance for years (even decades!) with the same lack of control and precision. Practicing a step slowly does not mean you will execute it slowly all your life. It is an efficient way of learning it, like professionals do!

Tango Sueño Tip of the Week

In my weekly e-mail newsletters to my students I have been including small bits of information about tango since April 2013. These are in some ways an opinion, but also a result of many years of teaching a large number of students of various ages and backgrounds. They are also what I learned by visiting Buenos Aires and meeting many tango teachers and dancers; some legendary figures, some young rising stars.

Here is one of them from January, 2013, the rule for cruzada was mentioned by Gloria and Eduardo when I was in Buenos Aires several years ago:

Tango tip of the week: To Cross or not to cross? That is the question. For some reason, this simple tango idiom is sometimes unnecessarily blurred. The cross during the tango walk has deep roots in its origins. The rule is: Ladies when the man walks on your right, you (intend to) cross the following step. Guys if you walk outside partner keeping her on your right, expect your partner to cross and create the “cruzada”. And that is it! 

All the rest is secondary and unrelated: Turning the chest, going up, lifting, turning the foot, cross system, parallel? Forget it, remember the rule and think simple…