Abduct

Adduction is bringing limbs toward the centerline of the body. Abduction is pulling them away. Marks need to abduct the leading arm when marking lateral directions (side steps, ochos, molinete lineal, giros).

Align

We realign our legs in relation to every step. In tango we take three kinds of steps: front, back and side. Here are the positions for each. The hips/pelvis should be rectalinear to the direction of step. (Note the grid in the diagrams.) The base leg should be in external rotation relative to the hips. There […]

Amble

Animal gaits are categorized according to how many beats the four footfalls make, four-beat (ambling), three-beat (canter and gallop), and two-beat (trot and pace). Almost always in tango we want a clean two-beat walk, either pace-system, in which the mirrored feet move at the same time, or trot-system,  in which the feet move in diagonal pairs. […]

Arabesque

Arabesque is a ballet position in which the leg is raised high in the air according to a certain formal shape. In ballet, both legs are always externally rotated. Tango maintains this tradition for two reasons. It enables the base leg’s muscles to work more strongly. It creates a classic look with the free leg. The […]

Arc

The common term “axis” is the beginning of the problem with common technique. ‘Axis’ is about creating your balance alone, without connection and without interference of external forces. We use instead a concept designed for partner dance, shared balance, communication, and absorbing changing force between the partners: The Arch of Connection. For the arch, you […]

Arch of Connection

What is powerful about Argentine Tango in comparison with other dances is the priority placed on and the care taken to develop perfect physical connection between the partners. This precise connection makes communication more exact, makes the touch of the partners more tender, and makes possible more subtle musicality. Precisely connected motion is the foremost […]

articulate

To articulate the foot or leg is an instruction which comes to us from professional ballet and dance, but you may be more familiar with “articulated teddy bears”. There are two kinds of teddy bears, the kind whose legs and arms and head have little joints inside, so you can move them to different positions, […]

Axis

In anatomy, the axes of a body are defined without any reference to the position of the body or its relation to the floor or gravity. This concept has nothing to do with balance, function, or movement. The way dancers use this term is not accurate. The scientifically correct concept to which dancers are referring is ‘orthostasis’, but even […]

Base leg

Most of the time we are standing on one leg, so base refers to the weight-bearing leg, and will be used in the singular throughout this section. Sometimes we are standing on both legs, in which case we are lucky to have double the resources, two base legs. Function: Connection We position the base leg into […]

Change of Embrace

The embrace changes, slightly, with every step, and throughout the step, to accommodate the realignment of the arch of connection. These changes are constituted by allowing our arcs to move as needed inside the space of the existing embrace, whatever that is. When the partners are moving in the same direction, shoulder-flexion and elbow flexion should not change. […]

Co-contraction

Co-contraction is a method of using our muscles to increase the power of our bodies. We use co-contraction for several things in tango. To intensify connection To create elasticity To put power into the Revel’s free leg, maximizing a projection What is co-contraction? Co-contraction is a biomechanical function of our muscles. Our muscles work in pairs. […]

Collect

Collect (deprecated) is a technique often taught to beginning dancers in which Revels are exhorted to grab their legs together at the end of each step. While we do indeed want the legs to pass close to each other for a moment between steps (with a sexy relaxation of the knee and ankle of the […]

Compression

The anatomical term for what is sometimes called compression (deprecated) is co-contraction.

Connection

For a biomechanical guide to sublime connection, see arch of connection and embrace.

Conservation of co-contraction

We can hold a co-contraction from one movement and use it for the next one. The most common example is alteracion, a rebote that pivots and releases in a new direction. We use co-contraction when we want to hold the power, momentum, or torsion of one movement and go directly into the next, instead of first releasing. Examples: From […]

Contra

(Disambiguation) Contra is used in two contexts. It is often used to teach walking. The contra walk is deprecated as it is often counterproductive. Similar to the term disassociation, contra is an instruction both imprecise and excessive. Arbitrary implementation of contra motion at the wrong point in the step weakens the body by causing internal rotation […]

Contra Voleo

A Voleo = projection + power. The power comes from co-contraction. The mark creates co-contraction and the revel’s body mirrors it. The power can be delivered in two ways Pro voleo: He adds power in the same direction as the projection. The benefit of this kind of voleo is that the Mark controls the speed, dynamic and exit […]

Cross-system

Cross-system is deprecated, as it is too easily confused with the movement called the cross. It is replaced with the accurate term for describing this four-legged gait, ‘trot-system’ and with the geometry of gait on tracks in the floor.  

Decelerate

To decelerate, we need a control system. For steps, the control system, is the process of extension of the joints into the step. A parada is a step decelerated to a stop at some point during the transfer. To decelerate the revel’s leg when it’s in the air, we use conservation of co-contraction. We can […]

Disassociation

Disassociation (deprecated) is a term often used to teach tango, but its lack of precision results in bad technique. The first problem is that Disassociation is used to refer to two quite different things: torsion in the body, and separation between the embrace and the legs. Torsion in the body When we create torsion we […]

Dynamic

To make our dance interesting and to be able to respond to diverse music, we need the capacity to change the dynamic, or quality of movement, of the step. This is the Mark’s responsibility and prerogative as the creative in the dance. The Revel is always responsible for matching the dynamic. It’s especially noticeable in […]

Embrace

Is the embrace the source of our connection? No. The embrace is the last mile. We position the lower body into an arc and aim it at our partner’s base leg to create an arch of connection. The embrace completes the arch of connection. To keep the embrace taut and agile, we use only two instructions: external rotation […]

Energy

Our muscles burn fuel for the energy to contract. Muscles do not create energy (deprecated), they use energy. These contractions create power, which is expressed as force and velocity.   Wikipedia Power is created through different kinds of contractions (concentric, eccentric, isometric). Force, at a velocity, is transmitted to the partner. The structure of the arch of […]

Extend

Tango movements can be specified in terms of the position and action of joints and the contraction of muscles to stabilize them and create power. Our muscles flex and extend, support, and rotate our joints. If we understand motion in these terms, it’s easy to send the right instructions to our bodies, and to verify […]

External rotation

  Internal rotation (medial rotation) is rotation toward the center of the body. External rotation (lateral rotation) is rotation away from the center of the body. Base leg To be strong and stable, the base leg should always be in external rotation. When we are standing with weight on two feet, we have two base […]

Fast

Most bad dancing is dancing that is too fast for the dancer’s current skill level. To move faster, we need to intensify the arch with continuous muscle contraction, but not a very hard contraction which will prevent us from moving quickly. We need to decrease the amount of force, so that we don’t need very […]

First projection

Normal steps have two projections, one at the beginning, and the second one at the end of the step. Once the old base leg has fully extended, it will be free of weight, it will become the new free leg and it will extend toward its former position. This is the second projection. The newly-freed […]

Flex

Tango movements can be specified in terms of the position and action of joints and the contraction of muscles to stabilize them and create power. Our muscles flex and extend, support, and rotate our joints. If we understand motion in these terms, it’s easy to send the right instructions to our bodies, and to verify […]

Force

Our muscles burn fuel for the energy to contract. Muscles do not create energy (deprecated), they use energy. These contractions create power, which is expressed as force and velocity.   Wikipedia Power is created through different kinds of contractions (concentric, eccentric, isometric). Force, at a velocity, is transmitted to the partner. The structure of the arch of […]

Frame

The purpose of frame (deprecated) is to maintain perfect connection. In place of frame, we build an arch of connection. The embrace completes the arch. We use external rotation of the shoulder joints (contracting the rotator cuff muscles) and gentle contraction of the triceps to stabilize the elbow joints while allowing for agility in adjusting to […]

Free leg

I have danced with many revels who have beautiful feet but feel like bricks or are inattentive, and this is why I treat the free leg’s aesthetic as the final refinement of an active dancing body. The revel’s beauty comes from her arc. Her free leg belongs to the mark. Refining the aesthetic of the […]

Freeze

Freeze was one of the 2011 TangoForge 5 Competencies. It has since been deprecated. The purpose of a freeze is for the Mark to let the Revel know that you don’t want her to move from her current base position. This instruction should not be necessary as Revels should never leave their bases without being […]

Gait

When we walk with a partner, we become a four-legged animal, with the accompanying gait possibilities. Animal gaits are categorized according to how many beats the four footfalls make, four-beat (ambling), three-beat (canter and gallop), and two-beat (trot and pace). Almost always in tango we want a clean two-beat walk, either pace-system (conventionally known as ‘parallel system’, deprecated) […]

Geometry

Geometric aspects of tango: The architecture of the arch of connection. Direction: For the Mark there are four fundamental directions, all relative to his own body: away from him, toward him, and lateral to him. The Revel’s free leg always moves in the direction indicated by the Mark’s power – to the limit defined by the […]

Intention

Intention is always the very first part of the next movement. To create intention we prepare our bodies for a new direction and communicate about that with the partner, without going there yet!  The relation with the partner, through the arch of connection, helps us to sense and make micro adjustments during this moment. If […]

Internal rotation

  Internal rotation (medial rotation) is rotation toward the center of the body. External rotation (lateral rotation) is rotation away from the center of the body. Base leg To be strong and stable, the base leg should always be in external rotation. When we are standing with weight on two feet, we have two base legs. External rotation increases stability by […]

lateral

Lateral is a direction relative to the Mark’s body. It means to his left or his right. It doesn’t matter which foot he’s on, which foot the Revel is on, or in which ways their bodies are oriented (facing each other, perpendicular), shoulder-to-shoulder, or even backwards. It doesn’t matter if he wants her to take […]

Mirror system

Former replacement for ‘parallel-system’, both now deprecated in favor of pace-system. When walking front and back, we need two concepts to describe precisely the improvisational possibilities. The first is where we are walking. We can walk on two, three, or four tracks. The second concept is which pair of legs move simultaneously. When both partners […]

Open

Open (disambiguation). This vague word is used in several ways: Open embrace = Along the continuum of possibilities of the embrace, open embrace might be understood as no contact between the partners’ chests. (The other end of the continuum is “close embrace”.) Open side of the embrace = the side of the embrace where we […]

Oppositional power

Oppositional power or force is deprecated. We adjust the position and quantity of muscle contraction in our arcs to maintain the arc of connection at all times. The maximum muscle power is provided by co-contraction.

out-of-axis

In anatomy, the axes of a body are defined without any reference to the position of the body or its relation to the floor or gravity. This concept has nothing to do with balance, function, or movement. The way dancers use this term is not accurate. The scientifically correct concept to which dancers are referring is ‘orthostasis’, but even scientists […]

Pace-system

Replaces ‘parallel-system’ and ‘mirror-system’ (deprecated). When walking front and back, we need two concepts to describe precisely the improvisational possibilities. The first is where we are walking. We can walk on two, three, or four tracks. The second concept is which pair of legs move simultaneously. To identify accurate terminology, we refer to the science of the […]

Parallel

The term parallel is used in several ways. Walking in parallel system (deprecated) refers to walking on two or four tracks in pace-system. We reserve the term ‘parallel’ as it is used in contemporary ballet to describe the orientation of the hips and feet.

Pivot

A pivot is a rotation of the body without a step. One muscle group in in the body is responsible for all rotation around the spine: the obliques. We can pivot in one foot in both feet. In both cases the only part of the base leg’s foot which touches the floor is the ball […]

pointed toes

The free leg’s toes should always be pointed as they extend into projection or when they are in the air. Pointing the toes means extending the ankle joint fully and contracting the muscles of the arch of the foot. Avoid contracting the muscles of the arch of the foot in a way that twists the foot […]

Power

Our muscles burn fuel for the energy to contract. Muscles do not create energy (deprecated), they use energy. These contractions create power, which is expressed as force and velocity.   Wikipedia Power is created through different kinds of contractions (concentric, eccentric, isometric). Force, at a velocity, is transmitted to the partner. The structure of the arch of […]

Pro voleo

A Voleo = projection + power. The power comes from co-contraction. The mark creates co-contraction and the revel’s body mirrors it. The power can be delivered in two ways Pro voleo: He adds power in the same direction as the projection. The benefit of this kind of voleo is that the Mark controls the speed, dynamic and exit […]

Project

To create a movement, we make two sequential operations: First, the mark shows intention toward a direction, and the revel prepares her body by [1] adjusting her arc and [2] beginning to extend her free leg in accord. This dual preparation is called projection. Second, the movement is completed. If the movement is a step, the mark moves […]

Second projection

Normal steps have two projections, one at the beginning, and the second one at the end of the step. Once the old base leg has fully extended, it will be free of weight, it will become the new free leg and it will extend toward its former position. This is the second projection. The newly-freed old base […]

shoulder-flexion

The shoulder joint is the most complex joint in the body, with the most possibilities for motion. You can spend a lot of money with teachers telling you to “relax” your shoulders. This instruction is ineffective, because as soon as we start to concentrate, we tend to tense and lift the shoulders. Rather than trying […]

Spiral

Tango’s aesthetic (and substance) is about consequence between bodies. This is why in powerful movements, the revel’s movement will always be a little later than the mark’s. He cracks a whip of power through her body and her foot is the tip of the whip. The revel’s movement is a sexy, languid –sometimes even blasé– […]

Suspension

People use the term ‘suspension’ to describe is a wonderful feeling of floating and timelessness. It facilitates smooth transitions, provides space-time for adornos, and feels great. The biomechanics for creating suspension (deprecated) is the arch of connection (not your hands or shoulders, that just creates tension).

Tension

Tension (deprecated) is a vague term which is used to describe the gentle muscle contractions we need to keep our bodies connected (for example contraction of triceps muscle to keep the embrace taut) intense muscle contractions we need to support dramatic moves like rebvolcada and colgada excess habitual muscle contractions which block communication.. What is […]

Track

In tango, we walk in gaits, almost always trot-system and pace-system, occasionally amble-system. We place these gaits on geometry on the floor, using a maximum of four tracks. on which each dancer’s feet occupy two adjacent tracks. When using three or four tracks, the Mark can shift to either side of the Revel. When walking […]

Transfer

Every step in tango, like every move, is marked in two sequential parts: intention/projection and transfer. The intention/projection is just information. It’s sufficiently subtle (1-2mm) that the revel does not move her arc. She intensifies the position of her arc, and begins to extend her free leg in the direction indicated. The transfer of weight is a […]

Transition

If we are dancing tranquilly, with no acceleration or drama, we may relax the muscles between movements. But when we create an unusual change of direction or if we are dancing very fast or making very big or very slow movements, we use conservation of co-contraction to hold on to the power of one movement […]

Trot-system

Replaces ‘cross-system’ and ‘threeleg-system’ (deprecated). When walking front and back, we need two concepts to describe precisely the improvisational possibilities. The first is where we are walking. We can walk on two, three, or four tracks. The second concept is which pair of legs move simultaneously. To identify accurate terminology, we refer to the science of the […]

Vertical circle

Dancing, we move and communicate in both horizontal and vertical dimensions. The horizontal plane is the floor, on which we paint lines (by walking in different ways), circles (giros), and intersections (sacadas). We also move in the vertical plane. The most fundamental vertical movement is flexion and extension of the knee joint, through which we […]