Tuesday, September 19, 2006


In the Argentine tango you do not do standard step patterns in standard sequences to a set rhythm. Instead you create new step patterns and combine them in ways new to you. Creativity and improvisation are valued more than correctness by the best tango dancers. (When beginning to study tango only the leaders improvise, but as you become more advanced followers also become able to do it.)

Since all variations of the Two-Step Walk begin and end with your weight on the same foot, you can combine them in any number and order. Try putting several versions of the Two-Step Walk together. Perhaps two Strolls, a Chase, a Stroll curving 90 degrees to the left (as if to follow the curve of the floor), and another Stroll.

End by doing three or four or five Rock Steps, pivoting on each step to the left so that you make a 360 degree counter-clockwise turn. This pattern is called las Cunitas (the Cradle-Rocking Step). It's useful if your path is blocked by other dancers. (You can also turn clockwise by pivoting to the right on each step rather than to the left.)

Notice the feeling the different patterns give. The Stroll lets you travel and feels smooth. The Chase feels more abrupt. It can be used to mark the end of phrases of music, the way you use a comma or period in writing. The Cradle-Rocking pattern can express tenderness because it feels gentle, like rocking a baby.

El Circulo (the Circle) is another simple pattern that you can make from the Two-Step Walk. Just do two (or three, or four) Strolls, pivoting always to the left after each step so that you circle back to the beginning of the pattern. (You can also pivot to the right to make a clockwise Circle.) Like Rocking patterns Circles can let you keep dancing when you're blocked in every direction, but Circles have a different physical and emotional feel.

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