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Plaza Column - View article
Written by : Max M Ali MD
Date : 06-06-2004
Title : ISTD Associate Test Continued, Part VI, The Tango
Article: Dancing Tid-bits Issue #184, Thursday, May 27, 2004.

Today's Topic: ISTD Associate Test Continued, Part VI, The Tango

Now came the last of the Ballroom Dances, the Tango. Make a note of following points which will perhaps always be asked.

1. The Tango Hold: Lady is more to Man's right, Knees are more bent but avoid "sitting", the right arm is more around her back, the Left arm is more angled at the elbow, I think left elbow is slightly higher compared to other dances. When it comes to Lady she changes the position and style of how she places her left hand beneath man's armpit almost. etc. etc. The more important thing to know is why?...This relates to History of Tango as it was danced in brothels of Argentina and the hold lends it character to these origins.

2. Tango Walks Forward: Left Foot walk started with CBMP, The Right Foot Walk is more open with right side lead and therefore the walks curve to left. You must show these walks both as Man and Lady. Make sure that left foot is not too much across the right foot but more or less on the same line in cbmp. The Body must move more or less at constant speed but Legs are staccato, sometimes more sometimes less. I think there is more staccato in side steps than forward or back.

3. Basic Footwork: Forward steps are usually Heel (not HT, because there is no rise and fall in Tango), Side steps are usually Inside Edge of the Foot, but sometimes if there is a turning motion it becomes Inside Edge of the Ball/Heel. The closing Foot is Whole Foot (WF).

4. Both Feet are never "flat" and usually one or the other heel is releasing as you are progressing.

5. Closed Promenade: Lady should avoid "swivel" on LF, 2nd step when she is turning between 2 and 3. Does it mean that she is Pigeon Toe. May be for fraction of a second but this happens so quickly that she should never be caught in that position by a photographer.

6. I was asked to show 2 walks, Progressive Link, Natural Twist Turn and then Closed Promenade. I was asked about Feet positions and Footwork. The Reverse Turns, Lady in line and Lady outside were subject of some discussion. The Feet positions and alignments require your very close study and detail, so go ahead and work it out at your own.

7. Now comes tango timing and Music. This is tricky. I have seen many accomplished dancers give different answers. How many beats to Slow? The correct answer is 1. How many beats to Q? The correct answer is 1/2. What is Time signature in tango. I will say 2/4 but then I have heard some champions say 4/4 and they count Tango as 1234 (same as fox). For the ISTD Test I suggest you count in beats and bars as 1&2&, 2&2&, 3&2, 4&2& and so on. You must learn to count something simple in that mode such as 2 walk will be SS, 1&2&, Progressive Link and Closed promenade will be, 2& (QQ), 2& 3& 2& (SQQS). The total is 3 bars of music. Hosthat? I was asked to count Progressive Side Step Reverse Turn in beats and bars. That got tricky but by that time he wanted to give me something that I become humble again.

Best Wishes, Max