Level 4 Jul - Aug 2019

The theme for this term is Dancing to Different Orchestras - so big focus on musicality

Week 7: August 26
In Week 7 we...
Introduced / reviewed the Vals - a.k.a 'Tango Vals'

Vals is 3/4 timing - meaning only 3 beats to the bar.
We stepped to single time Vals - stepping only on the 1, and then double time - stepping on the 1 and 2 but not 3. 
It is also possible to do double time on the 3-1 and not step on 2 (but this takes more practice).

The double time in Vals feels faster than double time in Tango. It also feels more lilting and less regular / even than Tango.
The space after last double time step in Vals and next single time step feels longer than in Tango.

Songs for practicing
Go here for Sophia's Vals Spotify List
If you're not on Spotify go here for Youtube links of suitable songs to practice to:

The following moves were covered:
  • Cross System Cross Combination - Ending side step to the Right, change weight, Step back on the Left leg.
  • Ocho Cortados from Salida / Rebound (on the way to Parallel Cross)
  • Giro to the Left from Cross System Cross:
  • Walking Back Ochos ending with Parallel Cross: (can also be ended with Cross System Cross):

Week 6: August 19
The focus was on the very playful and cheeky dance of milonga. Here referring to the dance genre (not the place where tango is danced).

Milonga from a timing perspective is 2/4 time. Meaning that there are 2 beats per measure. By contrast Tango music is typically 4/4 time, meaning that there are 4 beats per measure. For single time Milonga (Milonga Lisa) we change weight only on '1'. For double time (Milonga Traspie) we also dance on the '2' - so '1-2'.

The songs focused on was El Negrito and Milonga Brava and other milongas by Francisco Canaro. Canaro’s milongas tend to be relatively slow and are therefore good for learning how to dance traspsie (double time) to the milonga rhythm.
Go here for Sophia's milonga playlist on Spotify
Go here for links to songs on Youtube: El Negrito, Milonga del 900, Milonga Brava

  • C- Step / Box Step
  • Rebounds, Retraces
  • Fake steps
  • small steps, linear and circular
  • Ocho Cortado
  • Parallel and Cross System Cross

Week 5: August 12
The focus was on dancing to fast rhythmic music.
The song focused on was El Nene de Abasto by Juan D'Arienzo. The spirited singer is Alberto Echague.
I was unable to locate this song on Spotify but you can find here on Youtube.

Tips for dancing to fast rhythmic music
  • Move the body less and legs more. 
  • Fast collection
  • Milk the more melodic parts - as a contrast the the overall feel of the song
  • Ornament to suit the music 
  • Accentuate the end and start of phrases (as with all tango music - melodic or rhythmic)
Week 4: August 5
1. We worked on two versions of Alma de Bohemio, one by Pedro Laurenz , the other by Ricardo Tanturi. 

This led to a focus on dancing to mezza voce (long drawn out vocals). The movement approach also applies to long drawn out instrumentals (often violin).

2. We then contrasted this with two of the songs studied in previous weeks: Bahia Blanca and Tres Esquinas 
These songs are in Sophia's Tango Trad Spotify list. 
If you don't use Spotify you can also youtube these songs here: Laurenz version and Tanturi version

Week 3:  July 29
The song we worked on was Bahia Blanca by Carlos Di Sarli. This song is in Sophia's Tango Trad Spotify list. 
Note the different phrasing structure when compared to Tres Esquinas. In Bahia Blanca the Statement and Response are 8 bars each (4 beats / bar) - so twice as long. 

Next week...
We'll be exploring 2 versions of the dramatic Alma de Bohemio - one by Ricardo Tanturi, the other by Pedro Laurenz. You can find them on Sophia's Tango Trad Spotify list. 

Week 2: July 22
The song we worked on was Tres Esquinas by Angel D'Agostino. This song is in Sophia's Tango Trad Spotify list. 

We explored how musical phrases have a Statement and a Response. This could also be described as a Question and Answer.
In Tres Esquinas the Statement is 4 bars of 4 counts and the Response is also 4 bars of 4 counts. 

So what are the practical implications of phrasing?
- Punctuate / delineate in some way the ending of a phrase and emphasise the start of a new phrase or transition between Statement and Response.
- Be aware and prepare for wind-downs of phrases.
- The definitive ending of a phrase is more important than the start of a new phrase. If you catch the start of a new phrase
- There are many ways to end a phrase  - as long as it's definite in some way and avoids ending in a split-axis position for either dancer.

Week 1: July 15
We focused on dancing the Legato and Staccato of songs.
The 2 songs we worked on were: 
  • Bahai Blanca  by Di Sarli (more melodic - legato)
  • Paciencia by D'Arienzo (more rhythmic  - staccato).
These songs are in Sophia's Tango Trad Spotify list.

This involved an exploration:
  • The timing for Giros. We noted the difficulty of dancing a Giro where every step is double time. This is good for show tango but not so easy for social tango!
  • The different timing and angling of Ochos for different rhythms - wider angled half time ochos better suit Bahia Blanca. Walking Ochos to single time better suit Paciencia. Tight double time ochos would also work in the particularly punchy parts.
  • The different timing of Crosses to suit the music - single time crosses vs double time (and Cross System) Crosses.
  • The 'Variation' (multiple double time) at the end of Paciencia which quite common in D'Arienzo. This is a good time for Giros although a succession of double time linear steps also good. 
Tango Music - for practicing 

Check out Sophia's spotify lists:
Tango (Trad) Best for practicing musicality - walking to single, double and half time.
Tango (Neo) contemporary songs (good for practicing technique)
Milonga (Trad)
Vals (Trad)

Link to 250 songs
The following link will download a collection of 250 of the most popular songs (tango, vals and milonga) played in milongas around the world! Focus for now only on the tangos. Also focus on instrumental songs as opposed to vocals as these are easier to find the beat. Di Sarli is one of the better orchestras to start with: 250 songs download
This link goes to a zip file (little less than a 1 GB file). 

Here's a link to help you better understand tango music for dancing

Good habits for tango dancers
  • 'Steel vs spaghetti': Your standing leg is like steel - dynamic, strong and grounded, your free leg is like spaghetti: light and loose without tension.
  • Your free leg hip is stable yet loose and lower than your base leg hip (this removes tension from your free leg)
  • 'Collection' - Thigh or ankle (as you prefer) connection as you walk
  • Push off the floor as you walk - to make your walk more dynamic. 
  • Never lock your knees: You standing leg knee is softly flexed (not locked) - this gives you better contact with the floor.
  • Always find your axis - 'it's your beauty and your power'
  • Walk in the line of your hips - Imagine your hips are at the centre of 2 crossing lines: one going forward / back and the other - left /right. The first line is the guide for forward and back steps, the second line guides side steps.