Argentine Tango Syllabus: Section D: Core movements

(Note In Argentine Tango, the topics of Posture, Axis, Groundedness, and Balance are interdependent; I've grouped them all under the heading of "how to stand").

(See the Syllabus page for a list of the other topics in the syllabus.)

D1: Forward / back step

The sequence of events for leading and taking a step is: Lead -> Follow -> Follow.

A more detailed explanation:

  1. The leader signals his intention by moving his chest (centre) forwards
  2. The follower extends/moves her free foot back
  3. The leader starts his step, into the space that the follower has made available
  4. The follower transfer her weight onto the foot

An even more detailed description:

  1. For the leader, intention to move forward can be expressed by allowing the upper body to move but delaying the leg movement by touching the thighs together. The foot is then moved forward so that the lower legs are in an upside down V shape
  2. The leader then pushes off from the back foot & straightens the back leg, transferring his weight & axis to the front foot (and the followers weight onto her placed back foot)
  3. The follower responds to the leader's intention & projects her non weight bearing leg backwards starting the movement form the core - "squeezing" thighs en route and straightening the leg without transferring any weight onto it.
  4. The leader transfers the weight of the follower onto the foot of the projected leg.
  5. Although the follower is moving backwards, her energy is projected forwards towards the leader. Her backward movement is from the leader's "stronger" energy and not from a self-generated step.

D2: Weight Change

Change weight from one leg to the other.

  • Feet (Legs) should be in default "collect" position - i.e. close together
  • The lead should not involve much (or any) real lateral movement - not a push to the side
  • The motion is more of a "lift then settle" movement
  • Followers, try to make it clear to your partner that you have changed your weight
  • Can be done quickly, so suits double-time movements and milonga movements nicely

D3: Sidestep

This is a step to the side, and uses the same Lead-follow-follow technique as the forward / back step.

The order of movement is:

  1. The leader signals his intention by moving his chest (centre) to the side; usually also lowering a little by flexing the knees
  2. The follower extends/moves her free foot to the side in the same direction as indicated by the leader
  3. The leader starts his step, in the same direction that the follower has just moved her foot
  4. Both transfer their weight

D4: Rockstep

Small forwards-and-back rock-step.

  • Useful to navigate around corners, to pause in the dance, and to decorate / vary the steps.
  • Only transfer a portion of the weight forward and back, not all of it. The less weight transferred, the easier it is to speed up - if all weight is transferred, it becomes a (small) step, not a rock-step
  • Can be done quickly, as it's a small movement. So works nicely for double-time and milonga movements.

D5: Pivots

Pivots are typically performed by the follower, either clockwise or counter-clockwise, based on the lead.

  • Pivots are created by the tension or torque in the body resulting from twisting using the core muscles: by twisting we mean rotating the chest/ribcage independently of any hip movement.
  • Direct your energy towards your partner and keep chests as "opposite" as is possible before leading or following the pivotal movement
  • Keep balanced, stay on axis and ensure that the pivoting foot is grounded as though putting out a cigarette butt.

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