[Tango-L] Fox-Trot and Tango

Sergio Vandekier sergiovandekier990 at hotmail.com
Mon Feb 25 10:26:11 EST 2008

"Mario, you dance great I love to dance with you....BUT, you are not doing TangoYou are doing the FOXTROT...." ...ugh,"

Mario this is a common problem with those that come into Argentine Tango from ballroom dancing:  the biggest misconception is to assume that Tango is another dance more, of the many that you already have mastered: Fox-trot, Rumba, Mambo, cha-cha-etc.   Each dance has a particular character that reflects the culture that originated it, the same as tango but ... Argentine tango is different from all of them in many ways .  You will always be drastically wrong when you extrapolate between the two of them. The result of such assumption will be a comical caricature of Tango.

Ballroom dances are done for fun but A. T. tango is done for the "Connection" with your partner, the music and with the rest of the dancers on the floor.

It must have, as well, other unique elements such as "feeling". These two characteristics "connection" and "feeling" are associated to other characteristics like the "tango embrace", the  "leaning forward", the connection to the ground with knees bent, (el arrugue), while keeping the same altitude without bouncing, etc, etc. and more importantly the high "concentration" with your partner, with the music and with the other dancers on the floor. 

This is very obvious when at the milongas in between "tandas" (sets) of tangos, swing, cumbia, merengue or salsa are played.  Everybody dances in a relaxed way, for fun, the clothing more or less lose, there is talking to each other,  smiles or laughter; but when the new tango tanda starts people immediately change attitude: they fix their clothing, button their jackets, the expression becomes serious and one of high concentration, there is no talking.

It happens at times, that you dance with a person that executes the steps properly, that follows to perfection every move you lead but unfortunately the tango is a failure, a frustration, because that person's mind is not with you and the music, it is someplace else (bills that are to be paid, the coffee pot that is going to boil, etc).  There is no worse tango than the one danced that way, those are the ones that I call "fox-trot tangos".

So you have to learn the embrace, how to move (one hundred little details that you will never discover from looking at a video), how to walk, how to pose, how to connect, how to feel, then only then you will be dancing Argentine Tango.  

Summary: you can learn new steps for any ballroom dance from tapes but you will never learn how to dance A. T. from them.  

You will need a good instructor.   Tango is not just a dance, your partner is not just a partner. Tango is more than its parts, it is more than anything else,
the expression of an emotion coming from deep in your soul.  Every movement you make comes loaded with elements from the depth of your personality and your spirit. Tango is the expression of your individuality. 

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