We demystify tango by distilling technique to just 5 tools and teaching systems for finding the variations of the 25 Elements of Tango, so students can improvise instead of memorize.
We use the term ‘Mark’ for Leader, and ‘Revel’ for Follower. Here’s why.
The process of moving the body from one base leg to the next. This is our control system which enables us to stop, slow down, speed up, and be ready for anything.
Every movement we do has an embrace specification, a specific embrace action that needs to happen. There are only five different specifications.
The most profound concern of tango dancers is how to maintain CONNECTION. ‘Axis’ tells us nothing about this, nor gives any clues as to how to find or maintain it at varying force and velocity. Instead of ‘axis’ we use ‘arch of connection’. The arch of connection is an architecture of the two skeletons – each forming an arc whose direction is constantly readjusted as we change position. Crucial to the structural integrity of the arch is that the base legs and all the shoulders are held in external rotation at all times by contraction of the hip stabilizers (including the piriformis) and shoulder cuff muscles. Specific muscle contractions (transverse abdominus, psoas, triceps, and internal obliques when in torsion) trigger muscle chains that keep the arch taut, yet flexible, as we move. All the crosses and changes of foot are executed by redirecting the arch to the new base leg.
PROJECTION is what enables the Mark to express fine control over the timing and shape of the Revel’s movement. Projection is created at the start of each movement.
- The Mark shows intention for the next direction with a movement no larger than 2mm.Marks should not worry about the orientation of either of the partners’ bodies, which foot the Revel is on, or whether she will take front, back, or side projection, He should focus on clear communication of direction with no confusing tension in the embrace. There are four directions for projection:
- Toward the Mark: he contracts the base leg(s)’ psoas to flex the hips pulling his chest a few mm away from the Revel.
- Away from the Mark: he contracts the base leg(s)’ psoas to flex the hips pushing his chest a few mm toward the Revel.
- Lateral to the Mark: he contracts the external oblique muscles corresponding to the desired direction.
- Vertical: lifting and lowering her free leg.
- The Revel prepares her body for that direction by contracting her psoas muscle to maintain the current position of her arc while beginning to extend her free leg in his desired direction. She prepares her base leg for the next direction by contracting her oblique muscles to pivot her base so that her base leg is in external rotation relative to the line of the projection. Pivots are always part of the preparation for a step, not an automatic conclusion. (Excessive unmarked pivoting is the most disruptive thing a Revel can do.)
- Any projection can be intensified by adding stronger muscle contractions. The difference between a lateral open/side step and an ocho is a stronger contraction of both partners’ oblique muscles.
- Every step ends with a second/exit projection of the newly-freed old base leg toward its former position, offering opportunities for redirection and special effects before a new projection is created.
- Barrida is a special projection in which direction is communicated through the foot or any part of the leg (Pulpeades), with flexion of hte free leg’s hip and knee joints allowing for fluid movement. Of course the Revel is responsible for not breaking contact to her free leg, just as she is responsible for not breaking the arch.
Dynamic variation and change of direction is made possible by understanding the TRANSFER of weight as a control system.
To create special effects with the Revel’s free leg, the Mark adds POWER to her projection and the Revel responds with fluid joint motion.
- He does this by intensifying muscle contractions, using what is called “co-contraction” – the simultaneous contraction of two muscles in a pair. To create elasticity, voleos, and ganchos, the muscle pair is quadriceps+hamstrings. To create blocking movements (patada and rebote cadera), in addition to the co-contraction in the legs, we also co-contract the biceps+triceps. (These intense co-contractions trigger muscle chains that convey the power through the two bodies.)
- Fluid motion is sequential motion of the joints. Special effects with the free leg are beautiful when they originate from and are stabilized by muscle power in the base leg (co-contraction). To make her leg fly, the Revel co-contracts her base leg’s quadriceps+hamstrings, then moves the hip joint to its maximum position and, finally, flexes the knee joint. To exit the motion, she first extends her knee joint, then the hip joint. (This sequential release makes possible the Mark’s full control over her free leg so he can create unusual exits, such as Pulpeades.)
- Front voleo/gancho: the hip flexes (and adducts in circular voleo), then the knee flexes.
- Back voleo/gancho: the hip extends, then the knee flexes.
- Side voleo-linear: the hip abducts, then the knee flexes.
When the partners are moving in the same direction, the embrace is static (the amount of flexion of shoulder and elbow joints must not change). The many movements which involve moving in different directions require mastery of actions of the embrace.
- Whenever the partners move in the same direction, the shoulder and elbow joints must be stabilized both vertically (by the deltoids) and laterally (no abduction).
- When the Mark gives intention for a lateral direction, the supraspinatus of the leading arm must be contracted and the other relaxed. When the direction is lateral for a change of foot only, both supraspinati must be relaxed.
- When the partners change the distance of the embrace (from “open” to “close” embrace) the shoulder joints’ flexion changes vertically.
- When the partners move in contra directions (sacada, double-giro, contra rebote, contra voleo, contra gancho), the shoulder joints’ flexion changes laterally.
- When the partners enter leaning moves (volcada or colgada), the flexion of the elbow joints changes (extending for colgada, flexing for volcada) – followed by a co-contraction of biceps+triceps to stabilize the arm joints under increased load.
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.
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.
We are also proud to be able to teach all the technique needed for the whole MasterCourse with only these 5 Tools.