The Tango Muscles

all the muscles still

Orange/Stabilization Chain Teres Minor & Infraspinatus: Shoulder stabilization by external rotation Triceps: Elbow stabilization Transverse Abdominus: (not in the image, near the spine) stabilizes the spine Piriformis: stabilize hip rotation. Quadriceps: stabilize hip flexion. Peroneals: Ankle Plantar Flexion Blue/Directional muscles used during Mark’s Intention for Projection Lateral Projection: Oblique muscles: Rotate the spine for projection […]

Balance is not a character virtue

Argentine Tango Balance

So many students say “I have bad balance” as if they are describing their shoe size or model of smartphone. Balance is not an innate character virtue or flaw. It’s a skill. Importantly, tango balance is not the same as ballet balance, because in tango we build our balance with our partner, not alone, and […]

Partners

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The deepest desire of human beings is not to be alone. Whatever our individual pathways toward or around this issue, tango has given us a way to experience partnership. I believe that it is this aspect of tango which is most compelling. Despite the thrills of sensuality, tenderness, attention, celebrity, and musicality, it is the […]

Eugenia’s Crystal

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I have always admired Eugenia Parrilla for the freedom, self-expression, and delight in her dance. She is revered as a revel, but she doesn’t have this passive/obedient demeanor. It was a great honor to learn from her in October, 2016. I realized that she was doing something with her head, which is different than other […]

Triceps recipe

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A great tango embrace is made of just two actions: External rotation of the shoulders via the rotator cuff muscles. (Precisely: it’s external rotation of the humerus by teres minor and infraspinatus.) Stabilizing the shoulder in place allows the power the mark is producing with the abdominal muscles and legs to be transmitted cleanly through the embrace […]

Divine Time Machines don’t pivot alone

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To reveal more to herself and to her partner, the Revel must abandon the safe ground of knowledge, prediction, sequences, familiar movements, and righteousness. Crucially she must abandon her surety that the best thing she can do is to pivot. Pivoting is how we try to be good girls doing the hard work… But if we abandon a claim on certainty, avoid arbitrary endings and stay open to the previous movement continuing to unfold, then we offer ourselves to divine creativity.

Pedagogic status update 2015

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As you know, I am constantly working to refine my pedagogy. An effective pedagogy will enable me to rapidly teach diverse students to dance with perfect connection and interesting improvisation. This post is an update about developments in 2015 and goals for 2016. Berlin in 2015 was richly productive of new approaches to improvisation for dancing to […]

El Encuentro

TangoForge Argentine Tango Workshop

The partners begin dancing autonomously, connecting their bodies to the music first, and then look for one another. They approach one another and begin to interact, still dancing autonomously. At some point, they connect. It might be useful to define the tango connection: It is a very particular power relation in which the Mark has creative power and the Revel has the power to manifest his spark.

Improvisation

Argentine Tango

We can dance the same songs every night for years because of the possibility to discover new relations between movement and music. We can do this because each dance is unique, because we create it anew each time. Argentine Tango improvisation must be authentic and spontaneous or tango becomes rote and dead. Either partner can kill it: The Mark through routine and the Revel through automatisms.

Starting to dance Vals and Milonga

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So you feel ready (or you feel like you should be ready) to dance faster? Here’s a guide to getting started with vals and milonga. General points Faster is harder than slower. Always perfect your technique slowly before attempting to do any movement fast. Both vals and milonga can be danced slowly. Start by finding the […]

“I just need to dance with good leaders”

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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard this, and almost always from women who are delusional about their level. There is some truth to this, but it is mostly false. What those “good leaders” are good at is compensating for your mistakes so fluidly that you never knew you made them. The lesser marks […]

Aim

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The most radically precise piece of my pedagogy is so finicky that I apologize when I teach it. It’s not abstract, but 9/10 experienced marks flat-out refuse to pay attention to it. They believe that what they are doing works well enough, and this point need not concern them. But the revels can feel the difference. And when […]

Dancing to the beat: JewelLab Musicality Session 2

Argentine Tango and Music

by Nick Young In this musicality session, we look at choosing which beats of the music to step on. First we identify the beats we have to work with, and then we try some simple ideas for dancing them. These ideas are simple ways to make your dance more interesting and enjoyable! The previous session […]

The in and the out: A rough guide to level

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Every move is re-learned several times with different levels of technical sophistication at different levels.  These levels involve growing skills and sensitivity from both mark and revel. The first level is what we might call  “getting in” to the move.  Locating everything in the right place in the right order with the right technique to […]

What is the role of the embrace in maintaining connection?

Tango Embrace

This seems like a trick question. The embrace is everything, right? Well, no. The embrace is the last mile. Our connection depends on the whole body being stable and well-positioned. We use the lower body, especially hip flexion, to create an arch of connection from our base leg to our partner’s center. We extend the […]

Where does rotational power come from?

Oblique muscles for tango

This is a very simple and crucial question. And understanding it makes dancing so much more straightforward. Marks tend to yank or hurl on their limbs in order to create rotation, destabilizing themselves. Rotation around our own spine is controlled by the obliques, shaded light blue in the image at right. Muscles work most strongly […]

Why not to accelerate your steps while reveling giro

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Many teachers teach revels to automatically accelerate some steps of the giro. The revel is to take front and side step in single time and then double time the back and subsequent side step. Of course it’s annoying when different teachers tell you different things. Here’s why NOT to accelerate automatically: A revel who learns […]

What’s with the Hips?

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Boring as the marathon was,  I did notice that every single mark there maintained hip flexion at all times on the dance floor.  I carefully and systematically observed this. Tonight at Bebop milonga in Berlin,  which had a nice outside dance floor and cool lighting fixtures,  I noticed that (excluding the members of my party) […]

On your mark: Let your brilliance flow

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I know what sort of guys dance tango. The ones who can’t be bothered with small talk. The ones who tend to go directly to the heart of matters. The ones who can look at things from many angles. Sometimes I feel you’re not letting loose. Long ago, when I was an economist, I had […]

Why not to mark by manipulating the revel’s weight

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Some teachers instruct students to create connection with a very subtle lean or hang (micro-sized volcada or colgada). This prevents the revel from stepping too soon. It’s based on the assumption that the Revel isn’t interested in or able to understand and control her own step. It’s time to get over this way of teaching […]

The state of biomechanical science

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I met with Michael Chang, who has been a Dance Sport competitor and coach for more than 20 years. He was Australia representative to the World Professional Championships of 10-Dance in 2009. Apparently, there are only a handful of scientists in the world studying dance and, as far as Michael is aware, none are studying Argentine Tango. I had ten questions for Michael about biomechanics. I wanted to be sure I was using the correct anatomical terminology.

Technique for Back Cross

TangoForge Argentine Tango Technique Back Cross

Tango’s elegance and clean lines are epitomized in the revel’s back cross. When you revel it, you feel sleek and sinewy. When you mark it, you feel your mastery. To maximize these sensations and get them consistently, make sure not to add any pivot to the cross. Although we often use it after a spiral […]

Rhythm is irrelevant

Rhythm and Tango

Some time in the not-too-distant future you will find yourself in a tango class in which the teachers are desperately and unsuccessfully trying to get the students to move only with melodic notes. Hope that you have not by then tuned your dance to an impervious metronome. Rhythm in fact is a trap which limits […]

Guide to Transcendent Technique (2014)

TangoForge Argentine Tango technique

Guide to Transcendent Technique: For sublime connection, sweet community, and smooth biomechanics.

Gracethink

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One of my first tango teachers was Pablo Rojas. One day, when I’d been dancing a few months, he put one hand on each of my deltoids, looked me in the eyes, and said “Violeta, I know it’s going to be very hard for you, but you’re going to have to surrender.” You know by […]

How to do a giro

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What role does giro play in the dance? It’s the mark’s time to show off. And it’s the revel’s chance to give back, to support our mark in gratitude for the sweet walking, the sexy-dramatic voleos, and the whee-whirly things. She’s willing to provide strength, support, and power, but you need to let her do […]

What does it mean that the revel’s free leg belongs to the mark?

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Perhaps because it feels like flying, revels love the sensation of sending their free legs up and out through the air. This pleasure is so distracting that we sometimes forget that our free leg belong to the mark. Although we hope he enjoys it too… The somewhat boring truth is that the grace and beauty […]

Mark’s Plateau

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But sometimes you feel a bit bored. And you don’t really want to be just another intermediate dancer. You want to be one of the ones the women look at in that way. Going to classes doesn’t seem to help. Sometimes you can do the sequence, it depends who you’re dancing with. Sometimes you can’t get there. Either way, it’s hard to remember, and hard to take useful notes, and even the girls who were in the class don’t remember the move so on the occasions when you do remember it, you can’t do it at the milonga.

Get the whole story

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I want to learn to lead, but I think I need to focus on following first. TangoForge encourages dancers to learn both leading and following. There are several reasons for this. It’s nice to have compassion for the challenges of the other role. If a teacher is working directly with you and wants to show […]

The point source of connection

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It feels so good to press our hearts together. Do you sometimes wonder why you ever do anything else? This simple and accessible act is profoundly moving, as it crosses age and cultural barriers to affirm our humanity and compassion. Fortunately, we don’t have to be touching chests to experience this sensation of connection. In […]

Flexion, extension, and muscle contractions

Argentine Tango Technique Joint Motion

In 2011 one of my students confronted me about using animal metaphors. She said “Vio, I don’t know what it would be like to have a tail.” I stopped cold and realized I didn’t either. I decided that day to stop using metaphors and study anatomy so I could explain tango technique in objective terms. […]

Anatomical technique

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Metaphors and indescribable sensations mystify tango technique. Anatomically-precise instruction enables students can develop the needed body awareness and control with the assistance of any exercise professional.

Free Leg Fluidity

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Many revels ask me about the fluidity of my free leg. The first thing I tell them is that freedom of the free leg comes from the base leg. The way our bodies function is that if the body is out of balance, the psoas muscle of the free leg will not work as strongly So if […]

The Embrace

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Tango offers diverse delights for various tastes and fascinating paradoxes for debate, but it is uncontroversial that the best and most essential of tango’s gifts is the experience of what we call “The Embrace”. Those who have experienced a real sublime Argentine Tango embrace are both blessed and cursed. They are blessed know that it […]

Lightness

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Lightness is really just what happens when you are perfectly balanced and perfectly connected. We are heavy when we aren’t supporting ourselves, and instead lean on the leader or when we are disconnected. It’s also possible to be too light and independent, because then we’re disconnected. We can be balanced but moving in the wrong direction […]

Second projection

TangoForge Argentine Tango Technique

Normal steps have two projections, one at the beginning, and the second one at the end of the step. The base leg continues to work, pushing the floor until there is no weight on it. This continued work helps to stabilize the transition to the new base leg. It also means that in the instant […]

Don’t dance too much

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You might be dancing too much. Yes, we need floor time, but be sure you are disciplined about using it to improve your dance. . Better to spend one hour a week practicing new moves or playing improvisation games, than spending 7 hours a week consolidating bad habits and repetitious sequences. If you really want […]

Overcoming obedience

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Obedience is a reasonable state for a follower to take on. Much about tango suggests that this is what leaders want. But, as you are no doubt discovering, tango is very complicated. The first reason to overcome obedience as a follower is that you will never be good enough. There will always be leaders who […]

Improvisation schemes

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Improvisation has many aspects. Here are some different aspects of improvisation to develop: Variations of movements, 48 sacadas, 32 ganchos… The shape we make on the floor: We can walk on a grid (front, back, and side) and in circles (double-giro, single-giro, and calesita). The method we use for projection, including barrida, gravity, change of […]

Trust your legs!

Argentine Tango: Trust your legs

Most dancers’ attention is focused around the chest and shoulders. It’s nice that we are paying attention to our partner’s heart. Yoga teacher Matthew Cohen says “your legs are these powerful things for moving your heart around the world.” Those big brains and warm hearts don’t move themselves around, do they? I find that if students simply move […]

Musicality

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Musicality is the application of tango dancing to any music. Traditional tango music offers a lot of complexity and changes during one song. These characteristics can be found in other kinds of music, and we can also learn to dance to simpler music by dancing to the melody or using complex systems for relating to […]

What's the goal?: A sublime lead

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What makes for a sublime and charming dance? Musicality might be the first word to leave followers’ lips. Playfulness, the capacity to improvise surprising movements or sequences, is another concept that more advanced followers yearn for. Variation in quality of motion (dynamic) imparts interest and sensation to movements, even with a small vocabulary. But perhaps […]

Taking workshops

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There are lots of Argentine Tango instructors to choose from. There are lots of organizers who want your money. There are lots of expensive classes. Everyone seems to rave about every teacher they’ve studied with and how fabulous the workshop was. Here are some tips to make a serious assessment of what you are getting […]

The difference between waiting patiently and being present

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Why is it that Marks rave about dancing with beginners, and sometimes feel less free with advanced Revels? Of course there’s the possibility of being intimidated by your partner, but there’s more than that going on. Advanced Revels don’t need to concentrate as hard as beginners. Beginners are delightfully rapt by the whole experience. An […]

How to determine whether you are receiving quality instruction

TangoForge Argentine Tango Workshop

There are lots of Argentine Tango instructors to choose from. There are lots of expensive workshops to attend. Everyone seems to rave about every teacher they’ve studied with and how fabulous the workshop was. Of course it’s fun to go to workshops just for the social part and the buzz. This post is about evaluating […]

When should the follower pivot?

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The follower should pivot at the beginning of a step. If you automatically pivot at the end of a step, you are presuming to know the next direction. Finish your step, stretch onto your new base leg, and look to perceive the next direction. (There may not be one yet! – Thank you Armin!) Note that the follower is […]

Why does she keep doing voleos?

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Because you are stopping her with force and tension that acts as an impulse, sending power through her free leg. If you want to stop quietly without issuing an impulse, you need to decelerate yourself. She will match.    

Counterproductive Up in the Lead

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Many students (and teachers) over-use Up for aspects of the lead where it is inappropriate. Using up as a trick to make something difficult happen must be un-learned as students advance. The Mark should only lift his hands away from the floor if he intends to lift the Revel’s free leg into the air. Up […]

What I want in a Revel

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This post was formerly called “Why doesn’t Vio ask me to dance and/or when she does why is it so hard to Revel with her?” If you have either of these questions, I’m very happy because it means you are attracted to something about my leading and you want to participate. The best next step […]

“Hold me like a man”

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A new student started learning from me how to lead from the floor with his core. “This is amazing!” he exclaimed. “Our bodies are so connected. I can feel how it works!.” Then he went to the milonga. “Hold me like a man” said his partner. What does this mean? Our mythological histories of tango […]

How to raise the level of dancing in a community

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This is the question that faces me every morning as I hit the prime button on my espresso machine. I stare at my notebook until the first cappuccino is gone. I’m not allowed to open the computer, read, or deal with logistics. It’s creative time, problem solving time. And this is one of the problems […]

Why bother with follower’s back sacadas?

Argentine Tango Back Sacada

Lately I’ve been on a rampage to get people using the follower’s back sacada. Why am I spending much power on a move so rarely led and so poorly followed, if at all? As a leader, the dynamic of this move opens up sensation and territory. But I’m starting to think there’s more to it […]

Followers who want to take it deeper

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I am committed to helping followers dance well and feel good about their dancing. I suffered so long hearing leaders talk about how sublime certain followers were, but no one would teach me how to do it.

How to improve your tango and make the most of your expenditures

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Don’t just practice, practice all the time Whenever you are not sitting in a chair or lying in bed, you can be practicing tango. Take every step with awareness of moving correctly onto the new base. Whenever you are waiting for the bus or train, or standing in line, work on your balance. If you […]

The power of desire

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One of the most painful parts of tango for aRrevel is waiting, or sitting. It makes us feel passive and powerless when we wait for someone –anyone– to ask us for a dance. This is a mistaken perception of the situation and revels can develop a deeper understanding of what is going on.

Most of what you need to know to revel any style at any level

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Forget about stepping. It’s not your job. Focus completely on projecting and then getting your base when you find you are on a new foot.

Three things leaders can fix today

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Stop turning the revel with your hands and arms, especially when you’ve lodged her into your right armpit with a forward ocho. Lead her out of there by opening space where you want her to step next. (Generally, you are wanting another front ocho somewhere in front of or to the left of your left […]

Girls who want more

Tango girls

Girlfriend, I know. Dancing tango as a revel is the experience you’ve been looking for all your life. When it’s good it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted. You can’t get enough. Not all marks do it for you, but you don’t mind the suspenseful wait for the eyes of one of those marks, the ones who make […]

What are the different tango styles?

What are the styles of Argentine Tango?

Unlike dances with formal international congresses and officiating bodies, tango is a happy chaos of meanings and pleasures. You’ll hear names like “salon tango”, “nuevo tango”, “milonguero style”, “Villa Urquiza style” and on and on. But on real dance floors all over the world you’ll be hard pressed to categorize a dancer or a teacher, and there’s no need to categorize yourself.

Why do teachers teach so differently?

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One of the first things you’ll notice as a tango student is that each teacher has not only their own style of communication, but also their own idea of what’s important about tango and how to do it. Sometimes they even seem to contradict each other. This can be confusing and frustrating to students. The […]