Tango is not only a fascinating dance, but also a fascinating philosophy, culture, and lifestyle. The pursuit of tango is the pursuit of connection, love, unity, beauty, harmony and humanity, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a people and species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

December 28, 2017

The Elegance of the Milonguero Style

In contrast to other styles that remind me of a bustling casino, the milonguero style of tango reminds me of a Zen garden - an oasis of austerity, peace, serenity and natural beauty for quiet contemplation. The style aims at inward experience, so the look becomes less important. In fact, it is danced in simple and natural steps, very little adornments are used in order to avoid complication and distraction, thus enables the dancers to focus inwardly on the feelings.

That, however, does not reduce its aesthetic value. On the contrary, the style possesses a natural, simple and elegant beauty second to none.

Using cadencia to make the dance elegant

The key element responsible for the elegance of the style is cadencia. The woman leans chest-against-chest on the man's torso, and the man uses the connection as the fixed point to swing her torso, which brings the sway of her hip and leg in a chain reaction, causing the movement of her body to look elegant and graceful. Notice that the woman does not use her thigh to move her leg, but lets the leg follow the body to sway. Her focus is on the horizontal lilt of the body instead of the vertical action of stepping down, and she does not rush to chase the beats. Rather, she lets her body take its natural course to swing gracefully in accordance with the tempo and mood of the melody.

Using the hips to highlight her femininity

In doing so she often needs to swivel her hips so she can take advantage of the inertia of the body to sway her free leg. (See Cadencia and the Flow of Tango.) Since she dances around the man, she also needs to swivel her hips in order to step on his side. She needs to swivel her hips in her walk in order to use the hip to move the leg. (See Women's Walk in Tango.) She needs to swivel her hips when she does front ocho and back ocho, and when she turns around him in molinete... (See Dissociation and Gear Effect.) In short, hip rotation is used all the time in the woman's dance, which highlights the beauty of her supple and pliable body. The style does not emphasize the footwork, so she is able to pay attention to the hip movement, controls it to make the swivel gentle, subtle yet noticeable. She does not over turn the hips, but turns them only to a degree necessary to let it look graceful and elegant.

Dancing with simple and natural steps

Another element pertinent to the elegance of the style is using simple and natural steps. Some tango styles are known for their fancy movements and flashy figures, which, although may be beautiful in some way, lack naturalness and elegance. The following is an example.

As you can see, impressive maybe by some standard, a display like this relies on fancy footwork, intricate movements, exaggerated steps, abrupt turns and hasty actions. It looks busy, garish, farfetched and beat-chasing, but lacks the confidence, serenity, ease, simplicity, naturalness and elegance of the milonguero style. And, it does not match the melancholy mood of the music.

In contrast, the first couple use austere steps so that they can concentrate inwardly on quiet contemplation. The man leads by swinging the woman's body. The woman keeps her body tall and straight while swinging it gracefully, allowing its intrinsic, natural beauty manifest itself.

Audrey Hepburn Said, "Elegance is the only beauty that never fades." I am convinced of that.

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Self-Centered Leading and Partner-Centered Leading

Dancing to Melody - Poema

December 17, 2017

Self-Centered Leading vs. Partner-Centered Leading

A leader is either self-centered or partner-centered. A partner-centered leader leads the woman gently, thoughtfully, attentively, patiently and comfortably, that is, in accordance with the physiology of her feminine body. A self-centered leader, on the other hand, tends to lead her do things beyond her comfortable zone. For example, he leads her take large, awkward steps, which a partner-centered leader would divide into smaller steps; or leads her chase the beats, whereas a partner-centered leader would allow her time to finish her steps; or leads her do arbitrary performance, whereas a partner-centered leader would use natural steps to display her natural beauty; or regards himself as the leading performer and uses the woman as a foil to his performance, whereas a partner-centered leader would accommodate himself to her, shine her, and let her be the center of attention.

Here is an example of self-centered leading.

In this example, the man only focused on his own performance. He hastily chased the beats and rushed the woman to make big moves and drastic turns, but failed to follow the melody to allow her feminine beauty to shine. (See Dancing to Rhythm and Melody in Milonguero Style and Revealing Her Beauty in Tango.) As a result, his self-exhibition led to the eclipse of the woman.

In contrast, a partner-centered leader dances for the woman. Here is an example of partner-centered leading.

As you can see, in this clip the man did not lead the woman do big, awkward steps, as being the case in the first clip, but led her dance in normal steps to reveal her natural beauty. He did not coerce her by the hands, as being the case in the first clip, but kept her in the comfort of his embrace and used his torso to lead her very gently. He did not make her dance against the inertia of her body, as being the case in the first clip, but led her by the inertia to make the step easy for her. He did not force her to dance around him with himself as the center, as being the case in the first clip, but adjusted his position to suit her and facilitate her dance. He did not lead her do abrupt turns, as being the case in the first clip, but waited for her to finish each rotation before he led the next step. He did not rush her to chase the beats, as being the case in the first clip, but allowed her time to complete her steps.

These made it possible for her to concentrate on the connection and feelings, and also on making her dance elegant and graceful. Because the woman dances around the man and mostly walks in ocho, she needs to swivel her hips and use the hip to swing the leg. (See Dissociation and Gear EffectWomen's Walk in Tango and Cadencia.) The hip action, while highlights her femininity, takes time to complete. The man must understand that and allow the woman time to display her feminine beauty, as being exemplified in this dance thanks to the excellent lead, and we can tell her appreciation by the way she looked at him at the end.

Please watch the video again in full screen to see how beautiful a woman's dance can be when she has a good leader. I recommend you use this clip as a learning tool. Every man, novice and veteran alike, can learn a lot about how to lead from this video.

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The Elegance of the Mionguero Style

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