Argentine tango dance lessons are part of a musical genre and social dance with origins in Argentina, from where it spread to Uruguay and later on worldwide. In the United States, people confuse ballroom tango, which was derived much later, with argentine tango. There are various styles that make up the Argentine tango dance. These styles originated from different eras and regions and were even in response to the changing clothing fashion and crowding of dance venues. Although the current forms have their origins in Uruguay and Argentina, these dances were also influenced by styles reimported from North America and Europe.
Argentine tango dance lessons are performed in an embrace, which ranges from ‘closed’, where the lead and follower are connected chest to chest, to ‘open’, in which the follower and leader come together at arms length or it can be somewhere in between. Traditional styles are often associated with close embrace, whereas the open embrace is flexible and accommodates the many figures and embellishments related to tango nuevo. Essentially, Argentine tango dance lessons are all about walking with the music and the partner. Musicality, which is dancing aptly to the speed and emotion of tango, is a very important aspect of dancing Argentine tango.
Social Dance vs. Competitive Dance
Ballroom tango dancing steps, which were regulated by dance studios, have remained unchanged styles for many years. On the other hand, Argentine tango musical form and dance has been dynamic, with frequent changes taking place daily in Argentina’s social dance floors as well as in main tango centers in other places worldwide.
Argentine tango continues to rely on improvisation. While there is wide range of sequences or patterns of steps which are used by Argentine tango dance lessons instructors, even in a sequence, each dance movement is directed not only by quality and speed but also in direction (dance steps can be sharp, pulsing, smooth and so on…). Even though Argentine tango has evolved mainly on dance floors, there is an annual Argentine tango competition in Buenos Aires hosted by Argentina’s government which attracts competitors from all parts of the world.
One prominent difference between ballroom tango and Argentine tango dance lessons is seen in the feel and shape of the abrazo or embrace. In ballroom tango, both partners’ upper bodies are arched away from one another, even as hip contact is maintained, in a balanced frame.
This is exactly the opposite in the Argentine tango. In this dance, the chests of both partners are closer compared to their hips and in most cases, the contact is at the chests’ level (with the point of contact differing, being determined by the leader’s height and how close the embrace is). For the close embrace, there is complete contact between the follower and the leader’s chests and when dancing, their heads touch or are close to each other. Though in the open embrace the space between the partners can be as much as desired, for optimum communication, there ought to be full contact alongside the embracing arms. Because Argentine tango dance lessons are mostly improvised, partners need to communicate clearly to make the dance a success.