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Tango Pedagogy by Passionata

Learning Tango – Approaches through academic disciplines


There are many methods of learning tango depending on the teachers. However, the ultimate goal remains the same being to instill your students with a passion that they can pursue their own feeling of Tango and Style. I break down the two major approaches as Figures Based approaches, and Walk Centric based Learning, Within the center of these two exists a third approach based on Primitives.  This Article will outline the approaches and the core understanding as well as the variants and style changes that are required to become a fully established tango dancer.

Figure Based approaches

Figure based approaches are good to give students a good foundation in starting tango dancing. This approach is often looked down upon as people believe it teaches tango habits that need to be undo later on. students learn a set of prescribed steps that if they continually practice, they will start developing common patterns. These common patterns can only take the student so far as the tango prides itself on being a fully improvised and spontaneous dance at every point communicating the nuances of the music directly into motion. This can be also seen as a top down approach learning the major elements and then working on the minor elements of refinement later on. Figure based approaches allow students to develop show moves in straight open frame and refine them earlier as time goes by. Students tend to refine transitions.

Walk Based Approaches

Some schools provide a walk based approach, This involves students doing walk drills for months before any figures are taught. The problem with this approach is that the student risks a style of tango completely void of any structures of any other fancy embellishments of figures. Pretty much walk centered dances resemble more social styles with the apilado (tent) frame. Students tend to find emphasis with step smoothness (liso).

Hybrid Approaches

Students need to practice both the walk based approaches and Figure Based approaches as well as any other style related education related to their teacher. tango is a refinement of everything from the walk, Transitions and figures. Each teacher will have a teaching method, but the ultimate goal remains the same pursuit of Tango. This is to create a beautiful dance with connection and flawless leads and intentional steps with a natural elegance and purpose. The audience is drawn into spectating this passionate dance with style, grace and poise.

Order of progression

Students learn from zero, The question is, how do you get someone from zero to something? This is through the action of a single movement. In tango, the most basic pieces comprise of a walk, a collection, an axis change, a pause or an interruption. The most important is the Axis shift designating the leg to use, This is followed by a Walk in 6 cardinal directions, Forward Left, Back Left, Forward Right, Back Right, Side Left, Side Right. After the step, This is followed by a collection to the new axis, a pause or pivot, then followed by the next walk.
The walk can also be broken down into smooth piano, Sharp Staccato, Smooth to Sharp, Sharp to smooth, Slow, Fast, medium. Walk angles can be adjusted to varying degrees from 0-180 degrees. The collection can be slow and lingering, Fast and hard, It can end with an axis shift or a floating follow through. the collection can come to a close which becomes a resolution. After the axis shift or three. The walk is compelled to the next step.

Essential Figures

Forward Walk, Backward Walk, Forward Ocho, Back ocho, Side, Codica