Level 4 Oct - Dec 2019

The theme for this term is Dancing the Dynamic and Difference. 

Each lesson we will be focusing on different songs looking at what is similar and different, to explore how to best express the 'gold' in each song.

Week 7: December 2
Reviewed and linked the following combinations :
  • Giro to Right and Left - same steps leader and follower - ending with Castigada and Barrida (Week 6)
  • Linked Giros to both sides - entered from Back Cross Step - ended with Sanguchito (Week 5)
Week 6: November 25 and December 2
In this weeks we ended the Giro to Right and Left (same steps leader and follower ending with Castigada and Barrida). 

Barridas and Castigadas work well with this version of Giro (i.e. same steps for leader and follower). If leading either of these endings it's easier not to do a sacada or entrada at 2nd side step  (just small side step):

Week 5: November 18
In this week the move introduced was:
Linked Giros to both sides
Version of Giro was entry by back cross step - Leader and Follower do same steps at same time.
Linking step is Back Cross Step by Follower while Leader steps to his free side.
Ending was with Sanguchito:

Week 4: November 11
In this week we explored...
1. Alternating inside or outside lanes - while walking forward / backward
2. Eliminating the Salida (First Side Step to Left) for the following moves:
  • Parallel Cross
  • Cross System Cross
  • Ocho Cortado
  • Travelling Ochos

Week 3: November 4
We explored dancing to the solid, punchy songs of Ricardo Tanturi.

La Vida es Corta
Noches del Colon 
(sometimes spelt Noches de Colon)
The singer in both songs is Alberto Castillo

You will find these song on Sophia's Spotify list (Trad Tango) or click on the song links above to hear them on Youtube.

Here's an improvisation to Noches del Colon:
 The video's cover pic shows our pause at 2:13 - it was one of my favourite moments in this dance. Never underestimate the power of a pause!

  • How both songs end in the same way - strong - pause - soft - make sure to not stop dancing till the last note. Tanturi has a habit of being deceptive with his endings!
  • How we express the more melodic sections of the song as a contrast to the more melodic. As the majority of the song is fast rhythmic it makes the dance more interesting and nuanced when you 'milk' the more melodic sections / phrases in the song.
  • The syncopated moments eg: in La Vida es Corta (Spotify version 0:13 - 0:16 or Youtube version 0:24 - 0:26). This is expressed well with rebounds and sharp emphatic movement. Syncopation is defined as '...a shift of accent in a passage or composition that occurs when a normally weak beat is stressed. To place the accents on beats that are normally unaccented."
  • The pause at end of phrases (e.g 2:13-2:14). This adds light and shade to the dance and also increases our connection.
Ricardo was a violinist who began his professional career when he was 20. In 1937 he first recorded under his name and although it's good music, he didn't have an identity. Every record sounded like an homage to an orquesta leader... or a composer. From one record to the next it almost sounded like a different group. Of course this is explainable by the fact he wasn't using a singer. 

And then something momentous happened...

Enter Alberto Castillo in 1939. If ever the career of a band leader was saved by a singer, this is it. And vice-versa; they were a magical combination. And of course Alberto brought with him ... thousands of love-crazed fans! The 30-odd records they recorded together set them both in the firmament.

Uruguayan Enrique Campos came in when Castillo left in 1943. Although singing in the same vocal range, his personality lead Tanturi into a slightly different direction. Ricardo's music developed a more pensive, moody quality. It's more romantic. 

Characteristics and qualities
Tanturi's music has been described as "no steps tango":  It doesn't suit complex figures, or expansive movement. It's built more for close embrace, compact, sharp movement. For the gentler phrases Paradas and slower movement work well.

All of Tanturi's arrangements contain sections of flowing movement and sweet strings but the main characteristic is a fast thumping undercurrent for dancers’ feet. This punchiness is understandable given that Tanturi's recording contract came just after the emergence on the tango scene of Juan D’Arienzo (the King of Punch!) 

1 excerpted and paraphrased from www.ToTango.net

Week 2: October 28


Explored different ways of stepping:
  • More earthy, almost falling into the step (suited to slow rhythmic songs)
  • Legs move faster than rest of body, more split axis movement (suited to faster rhythmic songs)
  • Even smooth, elegant pace of legs and torso (suited to more melodic songs)
Contrasted the following songs, looking for similarities,  differences, and how our movement can best express the mood and tiempo of the songs.
We compared the emotional expression of the singer in Nene del Abasto with that of the songs from Week 1 (Lomutos' Melodia de Nuestro Adios and Canaro's Poema )

and then contrasted the above more rhythmic songs with these more melodic songs:
You can find all these songs in Sophia's Spotify list (Trad Tango) or click on the song links above to hear them on Youtube.

Week 1: October 21

Melodia de Nuestro Adios - by Lomuto
Poema - by Francisco Canaro

Both have a strong contrast between phrases that were more rhythmic or more melodic . 
Both have vocals that are very gentle, slow and poignant.
La Melodia de Nuestro Adios has a faster tempo than Poema.

Both songs are in Sophia's Spotify Playlist Trad Tango (see below)
or click on the above links for these songs on Youtube.

We looked at phrasing for each song and worked on moves that would best express the different phrases, e.g.:

Salida 40
Single time Parallel Cross
Wide Ochos
Wide Ochos (half time)
Ocho Cortado (a version suiting melodic music which we will work on more in future lessons)

Ocho Cortado
Rebounds (rebotés)
Double time Crosses - Parallel and Cross System
Travelling Ochos (single time)

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)
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

For reading: