…the most basic vocabulary of movements available to a dancer. These are the Elements of Tango.

A few of the movements are in fact sequences, which are simultaneously so distinct and so common that they function as single concepts.

All of these movements existed and were used during the Golden Age of Tango (blogpost on this topic).

The Lexicon of Tango is the repertoire of 25 Elements and their variations inherited from the 1940s. Until the mid-1990s, tango was understood in groups of steps, or sequences. The Cochabamba Investigation Group analyzed tango and identified the basic elements, from which dancers can compose. Dancing from the elements empowers dancers to to express every music, challenge partners to maintain intense concentration, and use space skillfully for better floorcraft.

This lexicon is categorical. It is intended to help a dancer evaluate the scope of your familiarity. Once you are familiar with the entire lexicon, you are ready to master the iterations of each movement.

Feel free to check off the elements you know. You can even download and print the checklist.

If you dance from the Elements you do not need to memorize sequences. Here is a method for learning to dance from the elements:

  1. Learn the technical distinctions between the 25 Elements. You should be able to recognize them when you see them, and to execute at least one of each. Use the checklist below. 
  2. Learn the system of variations for each element. Keep track on the PDF.
  3. Consider and master the dynamic range so that you can use more elements with various music.

… have varying numbers of iterations, variations, and pseudonyms. Our KnowledgeBase encyclopedia of movements includes a larger number of entries which systematize the iterations, isolate common variations, and disambiguate the psuedonyms (If something is missing, please let us know.)

The KnowledgeBase and MasterCourse are available in our Digital School.

The MasterCourse video series explains the technique and systems of variation necessary for every element in the Lexicon.
We use the term ‘Mark’ for Leader and ‘Revel’ for Follower. Here’s why
Steps / Walking
  1. Front step /
  2. Back step
  3. Side step
  4. Change of foot
  5. Molinete lineal … front side back side (Greek wedding dance)
  6. Ocho … step with pivot
  7. Sacada … displacement
Walking on a circle
  1. Double-giro … both doing Molinete on the circle
  2. Single-giro (Mark’s) … Mark in center of circle, Revel walks around
  3. Single-giro (Revel’s Calesita) … Revel in center of circle, Mark walks around
Modified steps
  1. Crosses
  2. Parada … stops
  3. Barrida (variations: Sandwichito, Pulpeades…) … Mark’s leg sweeps the Revel’s leg
Power transfer
  1. Rebote … elastic step
  2. Alteración … elastic step with pivot
  3. Voleo Circular … free leg is maximized into the air, with pivot
  4. Voleo Linear … free leg is maximized into the air, without pivot
  5. Gancho (includes wrap, double-gancho, piernazo, castigada) … voleo hooks the partner’s body
  6. Rebote cadera … elastic move of the hips
  7. Patada … kick between the partner’s legs
Off-balance / leaning / flying steps
  1. Volcada … leaning move toward the partner
  2. Colgada … leaning move away from the partner
Beyond the embrace
  1. Soltada … release of the embrace
  2. Adorno … decoration with the free leg
  3. Salta & Sostenida … jump & sustain
Personal Checklist


Download Checklist PDF

PDF for Notetaking

What is in the MasterCourse?

The MasterCourse includes a total of 16 videos, covering the 25 Elements of Tango. The total time for these 16 videos is just under 10 hours.

TangoForge Argentine Tango: Dance from the Elements

MasterCourse enrollment includes full access to all resources in our Digital School, immediately, for a period of 18 months:

  • The Mastercourse 25 Elements of Tango in 16 videos (EN/DE)
  • Exercise Center with muscle diagrams and pilates-based exercises on video, to learn to control the 10 most important tango muscles. (EN/DE)
  • Home Solo Practice Courses for both roles and a Pair Practice Course. A total of 30 video session sfor home practice. (EN/DE)
  • KnowledgeBase Encyclopedia, hyperlinked for quick research with text, images, and video clips. (EN)
  • Access to all of our live workshops during your enrollment period. If you have any questions we will answer online and in person at no additional cost.

For more information about the MasterCourse or our DIgital School please feel free to contact us by email to Office@TangoForge.com or using the chat box in the bottom-right corner of your screen.


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2020 TangoForge

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Power is the courage, confidence, and competence to make things happen. I want to create in a way that’s incomparable and define my own compensation package. You too?

Syntax of Power is a raw, potent, and spare revelation of how I got to where I am and how I take on the struggle every day.

This book is not about tango, it’s about everything else.

It’s about stepping into the darkness of change, learning how to take care of yourself, and making things happen.

Dyv stands for Duro y Vio. We were inspired by a 2007 conference at Harvard University about tango as a transnational culture. Also we wanted to create something that would help people to imagine a queerer tango. We forbid ourselves to use the word ‘passion’ and instead tried to articulate the experience more precisely.

Argentine Tango is more than an elaborate and difficult dance, it is an international culture of intimacy, desire, and dignity. No mere romance or memoir, the intricately woven stories evoke tango’s true mysteries … the elation, the frustration, the compulsion…

We published the book in 2009. Dancers asked “how did you know what I was feeling?”

Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

We didn’t start online education in March of 2020. We started in 2014. Learn more about our Digital School