Delhi Milonga

Delhi Milonga 

Dance Argentine Tango in New Delhi


Imageries, that are helpful to teach tango.

Posted by kiran.sawhney on September 29, 2014 at 7:15 AM

 Embrace, Connection, Disassociation, Axis, Contra body movement, Musicality- all these terms refer to Argentine connection. I would draw one more parallel to Argentine Tango. That is the movement of the swans.

Just as swans waddle their feet and keep their upper bodies calm, so is tango. Yes, you lead from your chest. You do not maneuver with your hands. The chest can be compared to the beautiful neck of the swan, which it does move. The hands are the wings. It seldom flutters its wings- as seldom as we open and close the embrace. The feet below do move gracefully and it makes the swan swim across. But the upper bodies are so still and connected.

The beats of tango music closely resemble the heartbeat. Which is the reason the music touches the heart so much. Just like two swans make a beautiful shape of heart. They do move in sync, with deep connection and with rhythm and beat.

Every dance form has some norms. As an example, in Indian classical dance, kathak, we pivot on the heel. Whereas, in Tango, weight in under the first metatarsal (ball of the foot) and we pivot there. Whenever, a tanguero starts moving on their heels, I have to remind them that what they are doing is kathak and not Tango.

In Tango the leader does not move his shoulder up and down at all. Whereas, in Indian folk dance, Bhangra, there is a major usage of shoulder moving up and down. When a tanguero, in India, starts lifting his shoulders up and down, I have to remind him that what he is doing is bhangra and not Tango.

Especially in milonga, where they start, not just bouncing but also moving their shoulders. It looks an eyesore. Here an example and imagery of swan comes very handy. 

Some of my participants cannot keep their free leg completely free. One can produce graceful movement only when one is grounded on one leg. Then you are balanced and your axis is right above your weight bearing leg. If you do not have a free leg, you cannot produce any of boleos, ganchos, etc. Some of my followers bend their weight bearing leg while doing a gancho. In effect, the hip of the weight bearing leg, is swayed out. Here they look like Indian apsara.

There is one more imagery which has always helped me teach rock step in milonga to my Indian leaders. My Indian leaders never seem to get it in one go but then I give them an example of Indian Super star Amitabh Bachchan. Sometimes I even play this famous Bollywood song of this actor. See the way he is moving in this song. The moment, they are told about it, without fail, they start doing perfect rock step.

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I teach tango in India, where close proximity with the opposite gender is a taboo. The men also get uncomfortable to embrace a woman. Sometimes, students in my class start shivering when they have to embrace me- their teacher. So I tell them- I am your guy friend, whom you are meeting after ten years. How would you come and hug me? Immediately comes a proper embrace.

Tango teachers need to innovate and come up with indigenous ways to connect with their participants and make them understand the concepts, help them develop connection, musicality and of course, also the embrace.

Categories: Tango