Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search 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 community and people. 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


Beginners may 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 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. Many students don’t know how to swing their leg, much less to swing their body. To swing the leg, you need to lift the hip on the free leg side until that leg hangs loosely and can swing freely like a pendulum. You need to keep the knee and ankle of the leg straight when you swing 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 also.

Swing the body is like swing 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 cause a bigger motion of the second section, which will cause a still bigger motion of the third section - the motion of the last section is the result of 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. The correct way is to allow the man to swing your torso and let your torso bring your 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.

The swing is in the horizontal direction. Some students fail to do cadencia because there is a lack of horizontal motion and they only focus on the vertical action of stepping down. To do cadencia you need to generate enough speed by pushing or pulling the woman's torso to accelerate the horizontal motion of her body, which will bring her hip and leg to swing. The leg must land on the beat, but the horizontal motion of the body continues due to the inertia, causing her other leg to swing along and land on the next beat. Cadencia is the lilting motion of the body between two steps. (See Cadencia and the Flow of Tango.)

In short, cadencia is a two-part process. The first part is using the chest as the fixed point to swing the torso, hip and leg. You must keep the body tall and tenacious, so everything below the chest can swing like a pendulum until the foot lands on the floor. The second part is letting the body surge by the inertia, using the foot as the fixed point. You must keep the body tall and straight as it surges forward or backward, so it looks elegant. Cadencia is usually done to and fro alternately in the opposite directions. It feels like riding back and forth on a swing.

Cadencia is a teamwork and will not happen without the lead. The man needs to keep in mind that whether the woman swings to the music depends in part 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. An experienced man knows how to use the inertia to swing the woman's body. He generates just enough swing, so the woman’s foot will land exactly on the beat. Likewise, a skillful woman times the swing of her body to the music as well. She complements the lead in her own capacity.

Cadencia is used both in 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 to the rhythmic flow of the music will make the dance much more enjoyable.  

The following example illustrates this technique:

Also see:



No comments:

Post a Comment