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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tango is Not Ballet!

I sometimes enjoy watching Ballet and am amazed by the control and grace that those who dance well exhibit,  this post is not meant to take anything away from the art.

For those of you who took ballet when you were young there are a number of things that you must let go of to execute Tango at  a more advanced level...I've come to these conclusions after many years of dancing tango and many, many different lessons taught by both famous and successful dancers as well as other ... well, not so famous or successful.  I've also watched many of the most successful dancers in innumerable videos which are widely available on the Internet and in person (you, of course, can do the same to prove or disprove these theories for/to yourself).

The energy in Ballet is decidedly feminine (in my opinion this is why men who dance ballet are often put into the "questionable sexual orientation" category, very unfortunate, but true), in tango the emphasis is on accentuating both feminine as well as masculine energies, and the fact that in is an interaction between the two that makes the sensual connection work.

 Turnout is not desirable in tango.
In Ballet the first thing that young (3 year old) dancers are taught is first position turnout, and every effort is made to increase turnout as the young ballet dancer progresses.  It is desirable in tango to increase the distance between partners feet and hips (keep your "sex" at a distance) (hips should be back when dancing tango) when dancing in close embrace (and open embrace, because you many not wish to use entirely different technique when switching between open and closed embrace), the rotation of the thighs required to produce turnout moves the hips forward and decreases both of these distances.  In tango the feeling of the gluteal area should be"open" and relaxed (happy) in ballet "closed".

Standing leg

In tango the weighted leg should remain bent slightly in order to increase balance and maintain ones own axis, and weight should, more often than not, be on one leg only except during weight transfer from one leg to the other (which should occur gradually in a rolling motion with the movement of axis from one leg to the other).  Ones fully extended leg (unweighted) should remain straight (not bent).  In Ballet pivots are often done en point (on the toes, with legs straight or even locked back) in tango pivots are done on the balls of the feet never on the toes (toes should feel as though one could spread them apart during pivots or before the axis is passed by the moving foot).

In tango the spine should maintain its natural relaxed curve, no attempt should be made to straighten the spine out in the lumbar or cervical regions.  The chest should be forward and the hips back, keeping the sternum vertical (not leaning back away from your partner nor forward into your partner unless an off-axis move is led (even then, the posture remains the same, no planking nor bending).  Your neck should retain its natural curve as well, no attempt should be made to straighten it, it should be held back slightly to compensate for keeping the chest forward and up (the head should not be tilted forward).


In Ballet the man is used as a barre, in tango both partners maintain their axis (except during off axis maneuvers lead by the leader).  This is a partner dance and both persons dancing need axis and balance because without it you are reduced to being used by the other.

Only used during show style performances in tango, used always when dancing ballet.

Tango is danced for your partner alone, and a very good embrace and connection are very difficult for others to see.  When dancing ballet one is dancing for the enjoyment of the observers.  There are those dance tango that look fantastic but are nightmares to dance with.