Tango Curriculum Joe & Carlota

Originally Written Sept 8, 2012; Modified June 19, 2017

1. Description of Class Content by Course Title

We typically teach courses under the following six titles.

[] Tango 1 – Quick Start

An induction into the basics of tango dancing.

Topics covered:

  • Leaders transferring intention of direction and rhythm to partner
  • Follower’s appropriate possible reactions to leader’s intention
  • The three basic steps of the tango (open side / cross back / cross forward)
  • The woman’s natural crossing sequence (open / cross / open / cross)
  • Conventional patterns (start and walking to cross, right turn, left turn, fwd ocho, back ocho, resolution)

[] Tango 2 a – Ochos & Turns

Topics covered:

  • turns to the right with sacadas (crossed feet and parallel feet)
  • turns to the left with sacadas (crossed and parallel)
  • changing direction of the turn via back and forward ochos
  • the infinite combinations of sequences that can be derived from the above three

[] Tango 2 b – Club Style

Sequences and technique for dancing in a small space.

Topics covered:

  • syncopated rhythms
  • ocho cortado
  • right and left turn in crossed feet

[] Tango 2 c – Milonga and Vals

Interpretation and techniques for the two other rhythms that are always played at tango dances.

[] Tango 3 – Improvisation.

Topics vary by session, but typically include variations on movements such as the following.

  • Turns with sacadas
  • Boleo
  • Arrastre
  • Combinations of the above with giros (turns)

[] Tango 4 – Seminar for advanced dancers. Topics vary by session, depending on interests expressed by dancers and instructors’ ideas of what dancers would benefit from.

2. List of Standard Named Step Combinations (Figures)

  • Salida
  • Salida Crusada (salida in crossed feet)
  • Resolucion
  • Ocho Fwd
  • Ocho Bwd
  • Giro Right
  • Giro Left

3. Basic Movements

  • Walking
  • Crossing Sequence
  • Closing
  • Rocking Side to Side
  • Rocking Forward and Back (starting with each leg)

4. Little gimmicks.

These are not steps or basic movements of the tango. They are additional movements that can be used as stunts added on top of tango. Because they are noticeable, people sometimes think that these gimmicks comprise the tango, but they are not what makes tango tango. They are like frosting on a cake, not the cake itself.

  • various paradas (stopping – on each leg, either both legs on the floor, or one in the air)
  • gancho
  • boleo – each side, circular and linear
  • colgadas
  • volcadas
  • lapiz / dibujo / rulo / drawing
  • taps / puntos

5. Types of the embrace

  • distant (arm’s length w. woman’s left arm preventing the man from coming any closer)
  • less distant (woman’s left hand on top of shoulder, maybe)
  • normal (woman’s left hand behind man’s shoulder)
  • close (woman’s left hand behind man’s left shoulder; torso contact)
  • closer (woman’s left upper arm resting on man’s shoulder — hand could be in front of his other shoulder … or going down his back or his opposite arm)

6. Points of contact

In all embrace distances, the main point of contact on the woman’s right side is her hand, and the main point of contact on the woman’s left side is the underside of her upper arm. When there is contact in the torso, points of contact range from stomach to upper sternum, depending on height, and can include the ribs on either side depending on degree of v-shape.

7. How to think about this curriculum

About the topics.

We occasionally offer classes under other topic headings, as we see the need or interest in the community. But the six classes listed above are a core that is intended to provide a solid background and understanding of tango. And from there you will never stop learning. And if you have studied with us for six courses, you will probably then have the tools to learn ANY new thing that you are exposed to in tango.

About the “level”.

Dancers who complete any course at one level (e.g., Tango 2a is level 2) are eligible to take a class at the next level. So, for example, a person can go from Tango 2b to Tango 3. However, to acquire a well-rounded understanding of the tango, dancers are expected eventually to complete all courses at a particular level (e.g., all of the Level 2 courses).

Why you shouldn’t take shortcuts and skip courses.

Sometimes people, being accustomed to social promotion, will see that a course is called Tango 2b, and they will think “Oh, that’s Tango 2, I’m beyond that level.”  That is incorrect thinking. Each course title creates an environment for learning different skills and step combinations. The level only means that dancers from the previous level are allowed into the class. It doesn’t mean that taking one Tango 2 means you can do what is in the other Tango 2 courses. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily even mean that you can do what was covered in the Tango 2 course that you took.