Notation: The video above is only a 15-minute sampler of the full 40-minute video. Only paying subscribers can see the full 40-minute video with the footwork. However, the real toy is in the Tango Topics archive of videos on Turns. This video is only a taster of what’s actually there.
The Eight Turns of Argentine Tango
In today’s Tango world, the Turn has become a necessity. We would like to believe that Tango is the lovely and amazing walking dance that we have heard said it was. The reality is a little different. Tango is no longer a walking dance. Don’t mishear that as the walk is unimportant or that you don’t have to study how to walk. Not true. You absolutely must study your walk: How to extend your leg (forward, side, or back), how to land your foot in a step (forward, side, or back) in relation to specific vocabulary, when to flex or bend the knee and why, what part of the foot is required and when (and why), what muscles to use and why, when to use your toes, how to strengthen the foot, etc. This is the technique of walking and that stuff is extremely important in order to begin to move efficiently, and effectively. This is not something that should be left to watching a 5-minute video on YouTube but actually, spend months and literally years learning and then re-learning, and refining. Because the study of your walk, and its refinements, absolutely makes for Today’s Tango Topic to exist. One can not even begin to study this topic unless one has mastered one’s walk. And by ‘master’ we mean to infer not perfection but rather well beyond functional so that it comes fluidly from you. Without wobbling, wavering, or using your partner for stabilization in any way, shape, or form. Today’s Tango Topic deals with the next most important element beyond the walk and goes right to the heart of the statement above that Tango is no longer a walking dance. In fact, today’s modern tango is more of a turning dance more than anything else. And the reason why isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. It’s a series of factors that generate the state of affairs in Tango. For more on what those factors are, and why they exist and how to fix it, look at Floorcraft 102 – The Incomplete Turn, it explains those details in spades. So the turn has become the defacto, go to element that one must study with as much diligence as one studies one’s walk.
We see the turn as one of the 7 Basic Moves of Tango Vocabulary (see link) that is used in every dance by every dancer at every Milonga in the world. It is almost as ubiquitous as the Argentine Cross. So much so that one may lead or follow a turn and not even be aware that they’re doing it. The primary turn that is taught and then danced is the Molinete/Giro structure. From a Leading perspective, this primary or basic piece of vocabulary is one of the ways that we can create navigational structure as well as generate musical structure. And it also has the obvious ability that allows to use it as filler content until we’re ready to do something else that may lead up to something else. From a Following perspective, it is one of the very first things we are taught to master and must become facile with because our very tango lives depend on it for a whole host of reasons which will become obvious later on down the line.
However, ‘The Turn’ isn’t a singular turn. There are in fact EIGHT, yes you read that correctly, EIGHT types of Turns in Argentine Tango. And that’s what this video is all about.
That said, let’s take a deep dive into the 8 Types of Turns for Argentine Tango.
Three Techniques To Turning. Before we get into the Eight Types we have to look at a few foundational tools that must be present before we can even begin to talk about turns. While some of the turns in the Eight Types do require the study of item 2 below, it’s not required for the other turns. In fact, what you’ll find is that items 1 and 3 are far more common than item 2 on the list.
Walking Technique can loosely be described as how one extends one’s leg and lands one’s foot on the floor, either in response to or initiation to movement. The study of one’s walk is absolutely required before you can even attempt any of the turns in today’s Tango Topic. Why ? You need only look at the following short 3 videos to see why this is an issue that must be resolved before you make the attempt. And if watching the videos below is just too much for you and you want to skip them, the simple answer is: STABILITY. Now go watch the damned videos! 🙂
Two Extension Errors
More Extension Errors
Disassociation/Applied Disassociation is really the preferred method of motion for a wide variety of reasons. Most notably because it allows for fluid and seemingly natural movement not to mention it also allows for greater precision control, which in certain cases of the type 7 turn, is absolutely required like where if you don’t complete the turn things are definitely going awry!
Just so you know, there are two videos on this topic in the archive. And while it’s lovely to sit here and yap about this stuff, you really do need to see it. So here’s a not so subtle plug to actually go and subscribe so you can see those two videos. They’re in the Ochos section. The first two videos. Please, for the love of God, go look at them. They’ll tell you everything you need to know about this fabulous and lovely technique that really are the bee’s knees!
So here’s a bit more detail about Disassociation and Applied Disassociation, in the case of Disassociation, the feet (are in collection), the knees (are together), and the hips do NOT move forward or back or rotate under the spinal column. If the hips move or rotate in any way, it will ruin the torsion that is being built up by upper body’s rotation or disassociation. The upper body, the arms (see: Arm Collapse – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rERBb-Fsh7M), shoulders, and torso move as one unit rotating around the entire spinal column from the 7th, 8th, and 9th vertebrae, while keeping the hips from “Slipping”. If you allow the hips to move even a degree or two it will rob you of Torsion. What you’re doing is very similar to what you’d with a rubber band by twisting it or winding it up. Eventually, the rubber band can not twist any further and will either break or unwind itself due to the amount of torsion that is being generated. That’s what we call a release of torsion. That same action occurs in Applied Disassociation. The upper body has Disassociated. Now the lower body (hips, knees, and feet) will unwind or release the energy that’s been built up.
Another way to think of Disassociation is as if it were a globe and we split that globe in half at the equator line, and rotate the northern hemisphere of that globe 45, 90, 180, or even 270 degrees ahead of the southern hemisphere. Applied Disassociation is where that southern hemisphere of that globe must rotate to catch up with the northern hemisphere’s rotation. The method by which that Applied Disassociation is generated is ‘torsion’.
Why is this stuff important in a type 7 turn ? Because the motion itself creates the illusion of natural fluidity. We say ‘illusion’ because in this instance that naturalness is actually something that’s been slowed down and stylized. This is a wholly unnatural action you’re asking your body to do. But in learning the action and then practicing it, the results speak for themselves. Sharp, crisp, clean, and controlled body rotation that is segmented and precise to within a degree or two.
The other reason why this stuff is important going forward is that in either role, the dancer is NOT dependent on their partner in any way, shape, or form for rotational movement. They can feel the intention of the rotation coming and then invoke the necessary motion. As a direct result of that motion now being controlled by the dancer and not the dance partner, that frees up the dancing partner to do other things. It also frees up the dancer to add and/or subtract embellishments and adornments to the Applied Disassociation as part of the equation.
Crossing Technique, you would think that this technique would be easy and you shouldn’t have to think about it. Wrong. The reason is that what we have is what’s known as a “Dirty Cross”. This is where the feet have crossed for a variety of reasons, and there’s space between the crossing feet. We have an entire topic video on just this item alone. Why does this apply here ? Because of Eight Types of Turns in Tango, two of them rely heavily on Crossing Technique!
Once these three techniques are embedded in the dancer, one can now progress towards the Eight Types of Turns. However, it should be noted that these are not the only things that need to be addressed before progressing. There are also a host of other things: Posture, Embrace, Body Position/Body Placement, Music, Application of Music, and more than this article can not talk about, otherwise, this thing would be a tome! For that, please read the rest of what Tango Topics is on about….it covers all of that stuff and more!
Notation: When the “What is … ” section of an article is blue, that means that the article is freely available to registered, users. When the section is yellow, the article is still free, but the video is for paid users. 😉
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What are the Different Types of Turns ?
Type 1 – The Walking Turn. (Freemium) In this type of turn, which has been showcased before in different videos, the couple essentially walks in a very tight circle. What makes this turn unique is that not only is it functional, but it’s also insanely musical, and on top of that, exceptionally easy! However, like everything else on this list, it has a “Gotcha”, and it’s a pretty big one too. There’s a reason why this turn is almost never taught, and it has to do with the rule that we’re all taught as dancers, “Never walk backwards against the line of dance”. Never. Ever. Which is to say that this turn, after about the 2nd or 3rd steps, will have the couple going against the line of dance. Which as you can imagine creates problems for everyone. However, there is a solution to this problem of walking against the line of dance, and that’s to angle the turn a bit, and keep the turn tight (a small walking circle) to that the effect and timing is absolutely minimized. This turn can be done in open or close embrace, or any embrace format really. It’s best case use is in Close Embrace for a wide variety or reasons. There are multiple variations to this turn, and those variations come in the form of Walking Systems or The Six Ways of Walking. You can add loads of variations to this turn simply by changing the walking system. So while you can use a walking turn as often as you like, it does tend to get a little old after about the 2nd time through, not to mention if you don’t manage the line of dance issue you’re going to be holding up the line of dance. So it is for this reason that once you’ve got this thing down as a couple. You may want to look at Walking Systems in order to add about 18 different ways to vary the Walking Turn. 🙂
Types 2 through 6 are (Subscriber Only)
Type 7 – The Molinete/Giro Structure. (Freemium) This is the turn that everyone thinks of when we say “Tango Turn”. It is the ubiquitous turn made very popular by Gustavo Naveira and Fabian Salas back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. The structure itself is actually 2 structures in one. There’s the person in the center of the circle, and that’s the Giro structure. And then there’s the person on the outside of the circle, and that’s the Molinete structure. From the Molinete position, this person takes 3 steps (Back-Side-Forward, or Forward-Side-Back, or … etc). Typically it’s the Follower that does the Molinete part, and the Lead that does the Giro part. But that’s only half of the equation. The other half is when the dancers switch roles as it were, and the Lead does the Molinete part, and the Follower does the Giro part. There are lots of places where this thing can and does go wrong. One them is in the Back step of the Molinete. The person doing the Molinete part, steps away from their partner on the Back Step. When in fact we want that step to go around the Lead and not way.
This is easier said than done in open embrace, but not in close embrace because the Lead’s hips will continually be in the way, and they need to accommodate the Follower. This is known as the Molinete Problem.
That’s just one of many possible gotchas that happen with this turn. And yet it is the predominant turn and has been for the last 30 years.
Type 8 – The “Milonguero” Turn. (Freemium) The last item on this list is by far the simplest and easiest as well as what we believe to be the sexiest one, if not the most elegant. From the Follower’s point of view, it’s a back cross, a side step, and a forward cross (sometimes called cross-in-front). The turn is usually done in close embrace for a wide variety of reasons, as this was the predominant turn that was danced for almost 70 years until Gustavo Naveira and Fabian Salas came along and turned (no pun intended) the Tango world on its ear with the Type 7 on this list. There is a gotcha to this turn, and it’s that the Follower more than likely has the Type 7 turn in their heads and getting them to do anything else (this is known as fighting default behavior) is nothing short of like going to dentist, like pulling teeth and just as painful for both parties.
Hey!!!! Wait!!!! Where at the other 5 turns ? What happened to them ? They’re here. But if you want to see the textual descriptions and all of the gotchas, and basically the rest of the article….which is extensive, you’ll have to register (it’s free).
There’s a lot more to this Article! There’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.
Have you seen our Ocho Transition Series ? This important four-part series covers the four important transitions between the two common type of Ochos (Traveling & Milonguero), and the 2 common types of turns (Molinete/Giro, and Milonguero). Each one is a challenge on its own. And each one can seriously up your dancing abilities.
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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!
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