“Understanding the Structure
of Argentine Tango Dance”

Couple Movement: Visualization in Diagrams

The diagrams on this page depict the movement, the turning and the navigation of the tango dancing couple when they perform one step together. So we'll visualize all possible step combinations of both partners that keep them at the same distance of each other. That really is 99% of the tango vocabulary.

How the Stepping Diagrams Work

Four Footprints

Both dancers will have a weight-bearing foot before the step, and they'll have a weight-bearing foot after the step. Hence you'll see four footprints in the diagrams.

Foot position

The footprints are just there to indicate the position of the feet, not the orientation: they are not pointing in the right direction. To know the direction, the individual stepping directions have to be consistent with the rules of the stepping directions in a couple. Moreover, there are always two foot directions to consider: before and after collecting the feet, because that's when the pivoting happens.

Lines Showing Connection instead of Step

In most traditional dance stepping diagrams you'll find the feet of the same person connected with an arrow. The diagrams on this page are a bit unusual though: the lines between the feet depict the connection lines before and after the step, rather than the stepping lines of each individual.

I think this is the most revealing way of showing the structure of the dance. As a price, it takes a little more deciphering to discern the individual steps: just connect the man's footprints for his steps, and the woman's footprints for her steps.

Stepping Diagrams

Always two connection lines: one before and one after the simultaneous step

Along

Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Along, same step length, no turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Along, different step length, some turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Along, very different step length, lots of turning.

Impossible

Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Impossible step, walk-through.

Opposite

Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Opposite, small step length, little turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Opposite, normal step length, normal turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Opposite, small step versus large step, normal turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Opposite, large step length, lots of turning.

Giro

Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Giro, normal step length, normal turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Giro, small step length, little turning.

Sacada

Acute Angle of Attack

Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Sacada, acute, inside (a little along), lots of turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Sacada, acute, inside (a little along), deep entrada, lots of turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Pseudo-sacada, acute, outside, (a little opposite), lots of turning.

Obtuse Angle of Attack

Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Sacada, obtuse, inside (a little along), a little turning.
Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
Pseudo-sacada, obtuse, outside, (a little opposite), a little turning.

Walking In Line

Tango Argentino | Simultaneous Step | Diagram
walking in line (most obtuse sacada), no turning.

 

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