The Elements of Style
"If you can't see it, you can't dance it."

In the process of going through the many hours of video we took in Buenos Aires, I found that patterns began to emerge. Although each of the dancers had their own different style, certain common markers of good technique kept showing up. The pictures below give an insight into the mechanics of the best dancers. A serious student who can develop a mental picture of these key elements and practice them with the aid of a mirror should move to a new level. After all, if the milongueros were able to learn tango by watching each other dance, shouldn’t we be able to do the same?  Please keep in mind that these pictures weren’t selected for their artistic quality. They are pictures of every day milonga dancing, not performances or demonstrations. Here are the three essential elements of good technique:

Always place each foot directly in front of the other when walking.
Alejandra Todaro  y TeteBlas y GracielaLili y Napo

Lead with the chest, especially when moving forward from a stop. 
Graciela y Blas Norberto Frascone y Victori Ismael

Step solidly onto a straight leg... never onto a bent knee.
Tete Blas y Elba Ismael
Los Bailarines: (Top row) Tete y Alej, Blas y Graciela, Napo y Lili
( Second row) Blas y Graciela, Norberto y Victoria, Ismael El Jalil
( Bottom row) Tete y Sylvia, Blas y Elba, Ismael

 

Walking with the weight forward (2) and stepping with weight onto a straight leg (3) is hard to learn—but it’s what gives tango its characteristic look. Dancers who do it naturally are sometimes spoken of in the milongas as being “muy autentico” or “muy Argentino”.