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.

March 3, 2012


Many people think of dancing to music only as stepping on the beat, but there are much more to it. Dancing with cadencia, for example, is also a part of the equation. Cadencia refers to the swing of the body in correspondence with the rhythm and speed of the music. In other words, dancing to music involves not only timing the steps, but timing the swings of the body also. Cadencia is one of the key techniques in tango that is essential to the dance but often being overlooked.

To learn to do cadencia, you first need to learn to swing your body. Most people don’t know how to swing their leg, much less to swing their body. To swing the leg, you need to stand on one leg and lift your torso and hip until the other leg hangs loosely and can swing freely like a pendulum. You need to keep the knee and ankle of that leg straight while swinging it, so the leg looks long and graceful.

Imagine, now, that your leg does not start from the hip but from the chest, that is, imagine everything below your chest is your leg. The chest is where you and your partner connect in the embrace. It can serve as a fixed point to swing everything below it as a whole. That way, not only the line of your leg looks long, but your whole body looks tall and elegant as well.

Swinging the body is like swinging a cudgel of three linked sections. The first section is the torso. The second section is the hip. The third section is the leg. A little motion of the first section will lead to a bigger motion of the second section, which will lead to a still bigger motion of the third section. - The motion of the last section is caused by the motion of the first section. A novice woman often moves her leg before her torso is led to swing, because her attention is on the step rather than the swing. In order to do cadencia you need to let the man swing your torso first, and use the motion of the torso to bring the hip and leg to swing. In other words, the swing of the leg is not caused by its muscle but by the swing of the torso and hip in a chain reaction.

To swing the three sections of the body as a whole elegantly, you need to keep your body tall and in tone. A soft ribbon cannot swing well. If your body is like a piece of spaghetti, it won't work either. You need to keep your body taut as you swing it, imagine it is a pendulum with weight at the bottom, and you imitate the pendular motion to swing the body to and fro in the dance.

The swing is in the horizontal direction. Many students fail to do cadencia because there is a lack of horizontal motion in their dance and they only focus on the vertical action of stepping down on the beat. In order to do cadencia you need to generate enough speed in each step. (See Cadencia and the Flow of Tango.) The foot must land on the beat, but the horizontal motion of the body continues after the foot landing due to the momentum, carrying the body to pass over the center of gravity until the other foot lands. Cadencia is the lilting motion of the body between two steps. It feels like the wave of water hits the beach, runs over it, then retreats, and hits the beach again, runs over it, then retreats...

Cadencia is a teamwork and cannot occur without the lead. An experienced man knows how to use the inertia of the movement to swing the woman's body in correspondence with the rhythm and speed of the music. Men must be aware that whether women dance to the music depends to a large degree on the lead. Often, the woman fails to step on the beat because her body is led to swing too little or too much, too slow or too fast, disabling her foot to land on the beat. A skillful man generates just enough swing, so the woman’s foot may land exactly on the beat. Likewise, a skillful woman times the swing of her body and leg to the music as well. She complements the lead in her own capacity.

Cadencia is used in both social tango and performance tango, but it primarily is a social tango technique aiming at increasing the sensual pleasure rather than the visual impression of the dance. Dancing with cadencia requires not only excellent musicality but also superb balance control, which is not an easy task. But, once you’ve learned to do it, the sensation of two connected bodies swinging together in harmony with the rhythmic flow of the music will make the dance much more pleasurable. 

The following example illustrates this technique:

Also see:



No comments:

Post a Comment