Staccato steps and sharp head turns, distinguish the Tango from the Waltz and the Fox Trot. Usually, the hold adopted by the dancers will keep the couple closer together than in other Ballroom dancing steps. One explanation for the posture and the movements of the dance is that the Argentinean cowboys – the Gauchos, would frequent night clubs without having had a shower, so when a lady danced with him, she would dance in the crook of his right arm keeping her head back.
The knees bent stance of the dance was the usual way the Gauchos walked, because of wearing chaps that got wet through from the sweat of their horses then got hard as they dried.
The Ballroom dancing steps of the original Milonga, is the predecessor of the Tango. It also accommodated the same sharp head and shoulder moves and the typical sudden stops of the Tango. The Milonga, early in the 1900’s was meant to be entertainment for the upper classes of Brazil and it was during that period that the title was altered to the Tango. We have the American Ballroom Tango, the Argentinean Tango and the International Ballroom Tango. The Argentinean Tango is performed in a close embrace using intricate footwork and leg movements, unlike the International and American style of Tango. As the Argentinean Tango does not need much movement it is suited well for nightclubs and places with small dance floors. Dissimilar to the Waltz, the rise, sway and fall movements are to be avoided completely. The desired movements are very sharp and well defined.
The music for this ballroom dance is most commonly provided by an orchestra that has a guitar, piano, flute, violin and a bandoneon (small accordion type instrument). The bandoneon is crucial to Tango music. The Tango has long been a popular dance with moviemakers from Hollywood. For example Tia Carrere and Arnold Schwarzeneggar danced the Ballroom dancing steps of the Tango in ‘True Lies’, while Al Pacino revealed to Gabrielle Anwar the secrets of the Tango in ‘Scent of a Woman’ and long before that Rudolph Valentino Tangoed in ‘The four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’
With this dance, what the judges will be scrutinizing for are plenty of clipped movements, staccato actions, sharp head turns, stops, and knees slightly bent at all times. They also look for the dancers to promote the great emotion the dance demands. Although the Tango’s Ballroom dancing steps are staccato you must not make the dance look mechanical, but rather it must be given the impression of grace. The woman should convey a haughty attitude but also seeming to melt into the man’s body. Your Tango needs to be convincing and firm, with feline like flexibility, the moves crisply with clear switches to complete stillness.