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October 1, 2007


Stepping on the beat

The recent intensive workshops organized by IXI Danza, first with Hsueh-tze Lee in March and, more recently, with Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Missé in May have opened my eyes to many new and exciting possibilities.

I will try to share some of my thoughts on dancing to the beat from a leader’s perspective this time.

Since the beginning of my Tango education, I have always been taught to step on the beat. Being the good student that I am 🙂 , I can confidently say that I am doing a pretty good job of it. In fact, this is also how I teach my beginners students. However, as demonstrated by Hsueh-tze, a strict adherence of stepping to the beginning of each beat AT ALL TIMES can make the dance feel like marching. While I am still convinced that, for beginners and perhaps up to the intermediate level, it is vital that to recognise AND be able to step on the beat, due to the recent workshops, I am starting to experiment with alternatives.

To my current understanding, it is just as important to be aware of the variations surrounding the single stable beat. For a start, there are the easily recognised “half-beats” that we can use for double-time in Tango (D’Arienzo, Troilo), or traspie in Milonga. On the other hand, there is a large variety in the more mellow music such as Di Sarli (mid to late period), Calo and some Tanturi, which tends to be melancholic and drawn out (in contrast to the sharpness of D’Arienzo, say). There is usually a sense of suspension – as if time itself is stretched out – where stepping on the trailing edge of the beat feels much more satisfying.

The following clip is an example – not the only, I hasten to add – of not always “stepping on the beat”. Here Fabian switches to dancing the melody from time to time, and delays the actual landing with respect to the beat.

Finally to finish up, another secret from Hsueh-tze:

“Dance rhythm with your feet, but the melody with your body”

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1 Comment
  1. Jean-Michel
    Oct 1 2007

    A good dance but the audience was dead!

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