Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance


Dancing Symmetrically

Today’s Tango Topic is one that has been sitting in the Topics periphery for quite some time. It’s always been one of those topics that once we got through the monster cabal of Tango Topics vocabulary videos, that there would be space and time to dive into what is seemingly a very useless and innocuous topic. A topic that seemingly has nothing to do with the way that you current engage the dance from a vocabulary stand point, or a musical stand point, or from a conceptualization standpoint, or even from a fun position…yes we actually mentioned the word ‘fun‘. We never talk about the level of enjoyment in these things or so it would seem. This is one of those times when the fun-ness factor is rife with what we’re going to suggest today! The actual fact is that today’s topic has everything to do with what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. And while the construct may sound simple, and really dry, and you’ll wonder why on earth you’d do it…doing it on the other hand, not to mention its benefits are far ranging and exceptionally eye opening on multiple levels in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. And the reason it is such an amazing topic has everything to do with a simple thing that has happened to you as a dancer.

The deeper and deeper you have gotten into Argentine Tango, the more that you come to accept certain things as true, the accepted canon of Argentine Tango. This ‘canon’ is the basis for how you understand the Follower’s Molinete, the Lead’s Giro, the Argentine Cross, the Ocho Cortado, Traveling Ochos, etc., that we tend to think of as ‘Default’ Tango. The things we do all the time – such as the Five Common Social Figures of Tango (See:Five Common Social Figures). Over time we stop listening to other voices or other ideas of how to engage the dance, or how to do X, Y, or Z. There is only X. Most of us become myopic. We only listen to one voice of how things are done: Our own. This becomes the bedrock of our dance, and our dancing experience. We do the same things over and over again, in exactly the same way, with little or no variation. And because no one is giving us any feedback, and/or that we’re not asking for any feedback; nor do we generally know how to do either (See: Giving & Receiving Feedback); nor are we encouraged or inclined to explore beyond that, even and/or until a new dancer that looks interesting shows up that is doing something ‘different‘; nor are we studying privately (for New York Dancers: you should be!). And we settle into a ‘nice’ routine of our staple partners, who again do the same things, the same way, with little or no variation. The same experiences time and time again. Mind you there’s nothing wrong with sameness. However what’s occurred, whether you realize it or not is that your skills have atrophied considerably, and most of that is due to how you see the dance, how you access the dance, and who you dance with regularly. This is what has happened to you.

Today’s Topic deals with a way to break away from that state and open up a vista that on the surface seems like it’s just X, when in actual fact, it’s the whole alphabet of Argentine Tango! So without further adieu, Tango Topics presents Dancing Symmetrically.

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What is ‘Dancing Symmetrically’ ? There are 3 levels to this idea of Dancing Symmetrically. On the first level it is seemingly all about just turning in one direction more often than another. Nope. We use the example of the Follower’s Molinete/Lead’s Giro structure as the sample piece in that your immediate thinking is that “Oh we’re just turning to the other side in the other direction. I’ve done that. Whatever!“. And that would be a mistake. This concept has far reaching ideas attached to it. More so than just turning in the other direction or starting Traveling Ochos on the Closed Side of the Embrace instead of the Open Side. On the first level it’s about changing directions of how you initiate and dance things. So level 1 is all about the direction things are done in.

Level two, and this is where things start to bend your conceptions of what you accept as ‘true‘, Dancing Symmetrically changes the common vocabulary of an Argentine Cross and then…Mirrors it! (see video above for an example) There are in fact 256 Types of Argentine Crosses. The Mirror Cross, as it is known, is not only an option of the Cross it’s also a necessary access point to Dancing Symmetrically! How about the the Ocho Cortado ? And if we’re being specific here, and we are, the Linear Ocho Cortado (See: Ocho Cortado) is another access point of the idea of Dancing Symmetrically. So instead of engaging the Ocho Cortado to the Closed side of the embrace, we engage it (as shown) to the Open Side of the Embrace! We showed you this in our video on the Ocho Cortado Options video. These are just two examples of the next layer up of Dancing Symmetrically. On this layer, we are mirroring or reversing not only the vocabulary’s direction but also which sides it can be done on and to. As well as Inverting it, and then Inverting Mirroring it! Level 2 is all about direction AND sides or more appropriately to do something Normally, then to Mirror it, then to Invert it, then to Invert-Mirror it.

And now we add the 3rd and final level! Reversing the Embrace! Wait! What ? Ummmm WHYYYY??? We’ll get to the why we do this in the sections below. But the end result is that Reversing the Embrace breaks our habits and preconceived notions, and more importantly our assumptions that X is supposed to happen. So that we actually Lead AND Follow what was led! This is Dancing Symmetrically.

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Have you seen the Walking Systems video ? This video series showcases the Six Ways of expanding your walk in Tango using: Parallel System Walking, Cross System Walking, Three Track Walking, ‘Lazy’ Ochos, The Snake Walks, & Alternate Walking.

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Why Do You Need This Stuff ? Several reasons. First and foremost, your foundation! Honestly this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, and if you’re studying with anyone, you’ll notice that they continually take you ‘back’ to 4 simple things: Forward Steps, Side Steps, Back Steps, and your embrace. Because these four things are the foundation of the dance. Embedded in those four things are a host of other things that you are more than likely lacking on or have forgotten about. So it’s not rocket science what we’re on about here. It’s simple foundational stuff. Which, the deeper you go, you realize isn’t so simple and is in fact far more complex than you thought or you understood. The simpler things appear, the more difficult they are in certain situations, this is one of them. Secondly, this is about understanding your vocabulary and not just from a Leading perspective, but also how it’s received by the Follower, thereby the Follower’s perspective. How it’s understood and why things happen or progress as they do. The issue here is assumptions, and lots of them. We want to eradicate those assumptions and make absolutely clear why things happen. And the only way to do that is remove the assumptions completely. Still another reason why this stuff is important has everything to do with something that we vehemently and passionately believe in: Facility! Facility in this case means the ability to do X, Y, or Z. This stuff affects your underlying facility to execute whatever you want to dance in whatever way or to whatever style or genre of music from a Leading OR Following perspective. It effects: Every. Single. Part of the dance! Everything. Facility also means the ability execute what you desire and WHEN you desire it. Tango vocabulary (Ochos, Crosses, Sacadas, Volcadas, etc) is great, but if you can’t execute that stuff in time to the music, it kinda falls flat. So…ummm yeah, FACILITY! Want one more ? Variations! Let’s roll back the article a bit. Remember we reminded you that you dance the same things over and over and over again ? Dancing Symmetrically opens up loads of options and opportunities for you that more than likely didn’t see. For example: Playing with a Mirror Cross opens up the possibility of leading the Follower to forward step to the Open Side of the Embrace, which only happens … ummm … NEVER! Gosh, have you thought of what do after that ? Well, here’s an opportunity to do precisely that. Discover the possibilities! And that’s all based on taking that one extra step and resolving differently. There are LOADS more of these things. All of your preconceived notions of what you think the dance is about all changes. And change, whether you believe it or not, is a very good thing. So yeah, you need this stuff.

Where Can You Find More Information ? Oddly enough you’re in the right place for that. Not to sound like a sales pitch, BUT…. (smile) there are very few places on the web or youtube that show you options and opportunities with regards to Tango vocabulary to expand beyond your Tango horizons. Tango Topics possess a library of over 400+ videos at this point on nearly every imaginable primary topic. So ? Go subscribe, not register, subscribe. The reality is that while a registered user has access to a whole host of free stuff. All the toys of this site are stuck behind a paywall! And the only way around that paywall is to … subscribe. If we may suggest an option: Gold Madness! Click the link and find out more and then start your Tango Exploration today.

There’s a lot more to this ArticleThere’s the extensive Lead’s Perspective, the deeper Follower’s Technique Perspective, and sometimes we throw in a complete Dancing Perspective part, all of which are only visible to Tango Topics Freemium Registered Users, Gold Subscribers, Diamond Level Users, and Milonga Madness Users. To become a Freemium user, Registration is absolutely 100% FREE, click the button below, and you get access to this article, and over 400 videos, hundreds of articles on a wide range of Tango Topics. So what are you waiting for, go register, then login to your Tango Topics Library page and then select the “ARTICLES” button and you’ll see this article with all that good stuff in there. Easy. No ? 🙂

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The Reality of WHY You Need This: There are many moves, steps, patterns, and figures to Argentine Tango that are really cool. What you may not realize is that most of that stuff is ‘fluff’, they’re nice to have, they’re nice to know, but honestly, you’re not going to use them that often! Mind you this is one side of the argument. This ain’t that! This piece is one of the more venerable selections of Argentine Tango that you will use frequently like Walking, Milonguero Ochos/Milonguero Turns, The Follower’s Molinete/Traveling Ochos, or The Argentine Cross. Tango Topics take this stuff very seriously, and we say that because we use this stuff ALL – THE – TIME! Our case is that you need this stuff because > This is all about foundation, or one of the Seven Foundation Steps that we use all the time to create the dance that we know as Argentine Tango. That’s why! 🙂 That said, you do actually need to watch this stuff. You can learn what you need from this video and then apply it. No lie. No gimmick. As always YMMV and to remember that the video itself is only a stepping stone! You will need some private lessons to go along with it to get the ‘feel’ of things. That is the reality of WHY you need this stuff. So subscribing for a few months to TangoTopics to get what we’re on about wouldn’t kill you. Further, it would probably help to hear another person saying what your current tango teacher has been saying all along. Think of this stuff as one more reminder that you absolutely need to hear.


The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you want to read this Topic, so that you can dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, you’re missing three important parts to this Article: The Follower’s Perspective, The Lead’s Perspective, and The Dancing Perspective. Which can change your thinking by informing of some important pieces of information that you may not necessarily be aware of. Watching a 5 minute video will not help you to change. Change is a concerted effort and requires a little thinking on your part: Becoming a Freeium User! As the name implies, it’s FREE. Register. You get to see everything above, and a whole lot more! 😉 Have a nice day.

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Why should you subscribe instead ?  Several reasons.  1.) Probably the biggest reason is to save a boatload of money. Buying these things outright isn’t cheap. Besides when you buy you only have access to the one video. Subscribing, on the other hand, gives you access to everything else so you can see the foundational material that goes with this stuff. 2.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 3.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 4.) Because the Dancing Perspectives (Lead, Follow, and Dancing) are hidden to the open user. And that’s where all the information is at, unless you actually subscribe. Until you do, those very important textual descriptions of what’s going on for both Lead and Follow you want to read. 5.) And the real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of vocabulary there, or how to make things fit. This website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out. This is known as Tango Twister.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won’t help you, because you’re missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perspective as well as from a Following Perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics videos allows you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and you’re done.

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 


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