You might have seen contestants struggle with it on Dancing With The Stars or Strictly Come Dancing in the UK and watched professionals carry it off with incredible grace, but do you think you have what it takes to tango? Emily Mitterhuemer stepped up for the challenge in Argentina and hasn’t stopped dancing yet…
“I saw a guy walking down the street in Buenos Aires sporting a t-shirt which read “WARNING: Tango is highly addictive.” I thought to myself just another uncool touristy top, but I would now like to retract that thought and agree with the t-shirt whole-heartedly. Stuart and I took our first tango class in a huge group at a dinner-and-show package place in Buenos Aires. We were both immediately enchanted by its pride, elegance and passion and decided to continue our studies in the home of tango.
For all you men out there who have been told they have two left feet, tango is, in my opinion, the perfect dance to discover your inner Astair. It is sexy and strong and demands confidence from the man who is, you will be happy to hear, always in charge. That also means that often things are your fault, but I guess you are used to that already!
It is an incredible to thing to communicate with your partner through just the slightest shift of weight or unseen signal. A couple who has mastered the art will appear as one, even in the most complex of improvisation situations. Tango is ultimately all improvisation. It is nothing like what you see in Dancesport, which is restricted by rules, neck-breaking holds and carefully choreographed routines. It is gritty, passionate and comes from the streets of Buenos Aires when European settlers expressed their yearnings for home by dancing with waitresses and prostitutes.
We found Celi and Fabrizio, who taught us the basic principles of the dance. We were told there are three main rules and if you dance always striving under these principles, your tango will move ever closer to perfection.
Rule number one: always dance looking at your partner with your torso and keep your shoulders square to each other.
Rule number two: Lift from the base of your neck with slight intention forward in your posture and keep the weight on your heels and middle of your foot, never on your toes.
Rule number three: this is the trickiest one to understand and has to do with partner to partner communication. Messages are conveyed via a 3 step process; 1 he leads, 2 she responds by moving leg and 3 you move together.
It is very difficult to understand these things without seeing them and having them explained by a good instructor, so classes are essential. The two of us practised on the terrace of our hotel. There is nothing quite like dancing tango by sunset on the rooftop which looks over the skyline of Buenos Aires!”
* photo by Nick Jacobs – Intrepid Photography Competition