There are three main styles of tango: the American ballroom style, the International ballroom style, and the Argentine style, which is popular in tango nightclubs. Both American style and International style travel around the ballroom following the line of dance. The Argentine style is usually danced in a close embrace, and the Argentine style involves intricate foot and leg actions. The Argentine basic steps are built out of grapevines, figure eights, and other interesting footwork patterns. The Argentine style does not travel so much and thus is better suited for nightclub dancing..
Tango is earthy and dramatic. Although walking movements dominate, Tango walks, having a "stalking" or "sneaking" character, are unlike the walks of other Ballroom dances. Movements are sometimes slow and slithery, and other times sharp and stacatto, such as a quick foot flick or a sharp head snap to promenade position. Tango has the same counter clockwise flow of movement around the dance floor, but with a lesser sense of urgency in comparison to the smoother and more continuous Ballroom dances.
In the late 19th century, Buenos Aires was filled with immigrants and transients from Europe and Africa, many of whom found themselves lonely and looking for companionship in their new foreign habitat. Naturally, these forlorn people found their way to the saloon, seeking drinks to drown their sorrows, temporary friendship, and any entertainment to help distract their depressed feelings.
Historians argue the name comes from the African candombe drum beat known as "tan-go", or possibly from the Latin word "tangere" (to touch). The dance began as a pantomime of communication between prostitute and pimp. The improvisation was filled with emotional outpouring and suggestive gyration.
These crude beginnings developed into less obscene styles that symbolized the lower class of Argentina through the turn of the century. Throughout the Tango`s evolution, two things remained constant: the background music of the bandoneon, and the passionate translation of emotions into dance.
The present day Ballroom Tango is divided into two disciplines: American Style Tango and International Style Tango. Both styles are enjoyed as Social and competitive dances, but the International version is more globally accepted as a competitive style. Both styles share a closed dance position, but the American Style allows its practitioners to separate from closed position to execute open moves, like underarm turns, alternate hand holds, dancing apart, and side-by-side choreography.
Footwork: In Tango, the feet pick up and place onto the floor, rather than gliding along in constant contact with the floor. The foot action is highly articulated, often being compared to the sneaking or stalking action of a cat. Forward walks are placed with the heel first, then flat. Backward walks are taken with a toe first, with the heel lowering as the body moves over it. At the same time, the toe of the forward foot should release from the floor as the body moves away. Side steps and chasses normally use a whole foot or ball-flat action.
Rise & Fall: There is no rise & fall action in Tango. The body level should remain constant throughout.
Contra-Body Movement (CBM): Forward walks normally curve gradually to the left, therefore the left foot forward walk is taken with CBM, while the right foot forward walk is taken with a right side leading. Backward walks also normally curve gradually to the left, therefore the right foot backward walk is taken with CBM, while the left foot backward walk is taken with a left side leading.
|1||Walk||Open Reverse Turn, Lady in Line||Promenade Link||Fallaway Four Step|
|2||Progressive Side Step||Progressive Side Step Reverse Turn||Four Step||Oversway|
|3||Progressive Link||Open Promenade||Back Open Promenade||Basic Reverse Turn|
|4||Closed Promenade||LF and RF Rocks||Outside Swivels||The Chase|
|5||Rock Turn||Natural Twist Turn||Fallaway Promenade||Fallaway Reverse and Slip Pivot|
|6||Open Reverse Turn, Lady Outside||Natural Promenade Turn||Four Step Change||Five Step|
|7||Back Corte||Brush Tap||Contra Check|
|1||Closed Basic||Checked Promenade|
|2||Outside Position Basic||Walk and Link|
|3||Promenade Basic||Double Fan|
|4||Promenade Basic to Back Tango Close||Quick Fans|
|5||Argentine Walk -- Running Steps||Turning Rock to Contra Check|
|6||Closed Promenade (i.e., int'l)||Fallaway to Fan|
|7||Open Promenade (i.e., int'l)||Cobra Fan|
|8||Forward Rocks||Same Foot Lunge|
|9||Turning Rocks||Promenade Twist|
|10||Rock Changes--Contra Rock||Pivot to Fallaway Lunge|
|12||Rock with Corte|
|13||Rock with Fan|
|14||Open Promenade to Fan|
|15||Promenade Walk Around|