Tango. Whether it’s American, International, or Argentine style, there’s nothing quite like it. People say it’s a daring competitive dance, but also an emotional social dance. Indeed, if you want to become a better ballroom dancer, you need to master the Tango.
First, a bit of Tango history.
Former slaves started dancing the Tango in the 1880s. They lived in Argentina and Uruguay in modest port neighborhoods on either side of the Rio de la Plata.
Tango is only the third dance to use a dance hold, after Viennese Waltz and Polka.
Tango dancers introduced the concept of leading and following. Previously, dances were choreographed routines done with little contact between partners.
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know.
For more than a century, Finland has had a passion for Tango. It started when Tango made it’s way from the United States to Europe in 1913. Over the years it’s become an important part of the Finnish people’s culture and character.
Tango is certainly a hot, spicy dance for such a chilly, icy land. For more on that, check out this clip from a 1993 “60 Minutes” episode called Tango Finlandia.
For additional information on Tango’s history, there are lots of resources available online. I like this one, dancefacts.net.
How do good Tango skills make you a better ballroom dancer?
Posture and Partnership go hand-in-hand.
Becoming a better ballroom dancer begins with how you hold yourself. For good dance posture, you’ll stand stretched up, with a long spine. Let your core, hips, and shoulders show action, direction, and dance position. Become a strong partner in Tango and watch your dance card fill up fast!
It’s important to point out that the Tango dance hold is different from other dances. However, as the leader holds his posture and poise, the relationship between the partners stays strong.
Technique = Power
The Tango uses strong, sharp movements. Be bold! There’s nothing wishy-washy about it. Become a better all-around ballroom dancer by strongly committing yourself to each step.
Also, keep in mind that Tango timing can be simple or complex. For instance, it’s not unusual to syncopate with half-beats or even quarter-beats. Foot speed, balance, and control make it possible. As a result, faster dances like Jive, Swing, Cha Cha, and Salsa are greatly improved.
Tango technique includes foot position, timing, dance position, leg action, and footwork. Above all, it trains the dancer to be more precise. Because of this, slower dances like Foxtrot, Waltz, Rumba, and Bolero become smoother and more balanced.
Oh yeah, it’s the icing on the cake…expression. Because it’s so passionate, in my mind Tango dancing doesn’t call for a big, broad grin. On the other hand, a sly smirk here and there is kind of sassy.
Read this Dance Safari post to get some pointers on becoming comfortable with expression, “Just Let It Go on the Dance Floor”.
When I dance the Tango, I find myself wanting to express the love/hate relationship that exists in many partnerships. Sparks will fly.
What’s the story behind some of the other dances? You’ll find the answer in the sound and style of the music. Telling a story is a big part of dancing and can’t be ignored. It’s been said that expression is the secret to taking your dancing to the next level. And, as a result, ballroom dancing becomes less mechanical and more about feelings.
In my opinion, studying and dancing the Tango is a great way to become a better ballroom dancer. To begin with, it teaches you to use good dance poise and posture in your dance position. Then, you’ll become a technically strong dancer with excellent timing, footwork, and leg action. Finally, Tango dancing encourages you to use your body to show how the music makes you feel. Tell your story. Now you’re dancing!