Why Your Arthur Murray Teacher Recommends the Tango
This article is going to cover the dance that seems about as practical as grocery shopping in a red carpet outfit.
But before you dismiss it in favor of something a little more popular and a little less dramatic, let's explore why this dance can help boost your skills faster than few others can.
We are talking about the Tango.
While you may not live in Argentina, wear fishnet stockings, or have an accent like Antonio Banderas or Salma Hayek, this dance has so many benefits beneath the surface that far too many people overlook.
But not us.
So let's dive in and get a better idea for why your Arthur Murray instructor suggested it, some important benefits to learning the dance, and some common misconceptions that will help you make an informed choice going forward.
Tango: The Benefits of the Dance
1. Power, Power, and more Power
The Tango is the only dance that features three forward steps in succession on the basic step. That may not seem like much, but it allows for even the newest social dancer to get comfortable moving with power and clarity. This all spills over to other dances with fewer walking steps and makes a noticeable difference to say the least.
2. Picture Lines
A few decades ago, people would call them "Kodak moments". Picture lines are those times when you create a dance pose worthy of a great picture. The Tango is the dance that has the highest ratio of picture lines early in the Bronze program. With a wide array of promenade options and the picture line Holy Grail of Bronze 1, the Medio Corte, these shapes will become valuable additions to your program... and maybe your photo collection.
3. A Smooth Contrast
The Waltz and Foxtrot both have varying amounts of vertical movements ("Rise and Fall"). The Tango, on the other hand, concentrates all of it's power in movement down the floor (no "Rise and Fall"). This makes the Tango a great contrasting dance to help separate and articulate the subtle, and not so subtle, differences with the other smooth dances.
One of the most important benefits of dancing is building confidence. Every dance helps students ascend the step-by-step staircase of development, but Tango is like an express elevator. Whether it's because the character is so far removed from regular life, or the powerful physical movement of the dance, the Tango fast tracks the development in a social dancer's confidence. That's it's superpower.
5. Leading and Following
"With great power comes great responsibility."
Powerful movement by the leader gives the follower a higher degree of responsiveness. The follower works harder when the leader works harder. So maybe the iconic line from Spiderman could be reworked for the aspiring Tango dancer to read,
"With great power comes great sensitivity."
Tango is a must-have for anyone wanting to improve their leading and following.
Tango: Integrations to Other Dances
Any dancer with Foxtrot in their program will see an immediate benefit in the other dances they enjoy. Here are some quick examples to look for.
If dances had relatives, then the Tango would be the South American cousin of the Foxtrot. While the Foxtrot would be a little more proper, Tango would be slick and savvy. The parts that construct both of the dances are very similar, but their execution and finished look is where their individual features take shape.
2. Argentine Tango
Spoiler alert! There's another dance called the Argentine Tango that takes the character of Tango even further. This nightclub version of the Tango features copious amounts of swivels, flicks, and fans. It will, undoubtedly, be covered in an article similar to this one. The Tango, or American Tango, is a great starting point for any aspiring Argentine Tango fan because many of the movements are introduced there.
Being that the American Tango is bigger and bolder, it is a much better starting point than the extremely nuanced platform of the Argentine Tango.
Believe it or not, the Tango and the Cha-Cha keep almost identical Tempos. In fact, you can even count the Cha-Cha using a Tango count. Being that timing and a clear rhythm is important for all dances, this unlikely pairing is a great connecting thread to develop those skills in both dances.
4. Waltz & Viennese Waltz
Especially as you move from the Associate to the Full Bronze Level, you'll begin to see the Tango's influence on the rest of the dances in the American Smooth style.
Being that Tango doesn't rely on Rise and Fall, it becomes the dance most frequently used to beta test advanced patterns in Waltz, Viennese Waltz, or Foxtrot. An added bonus is that the beta/Tango version of those patterns can also be used in Tango moving forward.
Tango: Important Facts
If your favorite dances were your favorite foods, then the Tango would be a vitamin enriched protein shake. It improves your entire dance program even if you never dance it in public.
Tango teaches great shaping, agility, and athletic movement.
When it comes to timing, phrasing, and interpretation in music, Tango music follows a consistent formula that develops your ear for the music in all dances.
The Tango is a lot like playing a character in community theater. It's a departure from who you are in everyday life, but that, in itself, is the draw.
The Tango allows you to develop dramatic qualities like powerful movement and brazen levels of confidence because it isn't you - it's a character.
Your comfort zone will tell you that it isn't practical, but if Tango had a marketing department, it's campaign would be the polar opposite of practical. If the Foxtrot is a nice pair of jeans, then the Tango is a Snakeskin Tuxedo.
And practical or not, this Snakeskin Tuxedo of a dance is something that you should have in your dance wardrobe.