Argentine Tango Encyclopedia

This entry covers the technique for a single step. Walking discusses additional issues when we move continuously in one direction.

We step in 5 ways, each of which requires its own technique. Although there are some consistent principles, due to the front/back assymetry of the body, there are also some differences in the motion in each direction.

  • front step
  • back step
  • side step (sometimes called an open step or, in Castellano, apertura)
  • with a pivot (ocho)
  • in place/ change of foot (often also called “change of weight”)

Every step involves continuous adjustment of the arch of connection, which means continuous exact communication. This means it it is possible at any moment during the step for the Mark to introduce a variation. The continuum is made of two sequential actions. Read the entries on each.

  1. Intention / projection
  2. Transfer
Size of the step

The size of the step is determined by the knee flexion of the Mark’s base leg at the beginning of the step. This flexion should be matched by the Revel’s base leg’s knee flexion, which affects the distance between her feet when her knee and ankle are fully extended.

To make attractive lines, the side step should either be tiny (change of foot, 2cm) or a normal sized step (about 40cm/18″), or larger. Steps of 15cm are sloppy and ugly. Make a choice.

Shape of the step

We can change the shape of the step in many ways to give it different character. In the basic projection step we flex the base leg’s knee during projection and then step onto a more-or-less extended knee. In a diving or falling step we make a diagonal vector toward the floor, arriving onto a flexed knee. Vertical circles can be used to dramatize the connection and projection, and move with much bigger power. An alteracion is an elastic/rebote step with a pivot that takes off in another direction. Paradas decelerate to a stop partway through the transfer.

If the dancers control their transfer with deliberate use of the old base leg’s joints, we can turn any shape of step into a rebote or parada.






Variations of Each Element


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