Argentine Tango School

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“Becoming Argentina” interviews Marcelo Solis

“Becoming Argentina” interviews Marcelo Solis

 Vance Woods (Independent Writer/Editor | Team Lead – Translations/Copy Editor – USA | Archivoz Magazine | Cataloger Valley Library Oregon State University)

I had the pleasure and honor to be interviewed by Vance Woods (Independent Writer/Editor | Team Lead – Translations/Copy Editor – USA | Archivoz Magazine | Cataloger Valley Library Oregon State University) for his blog “Becoming Argentina”.

We talked about how did I get to where I am today and how did the Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires come into being; about Tango as a multifaceted manifestation in dance, music, poetry, and more; he asked me what is my favorite tango lyric; about Tango, Argentina, and Buenos Aires; about the effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on tango culture; about what it means to be a milonguero; on Tango as an industry as opposed to Tango as a cultural practice, and how these two aspects interact; and why do you I think that Tango has so strongly appeal.
I enjoyed so much this interview and I know you are going to enjoy it too.

Read the interview

Continue learning about Argentine Tango:

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Marcelo Solis answers what is Argentine Tango. He is an expert.

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Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi at our virtual class.

Argentine Tango: What do you need to improve?

Argentine Tango: What do you need to improve?

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi at our beginner class.

Everything good about Tango dancing is the result of practice.

Regular exercise of walking, change of weight, pause, pivots, turns, “paradas” (stops), “calecitas” (merry-go-round), and embellishments create the foundation of your freedom while dancing.
You don’t need a partner to practice.

Many essential elements of Argentine Tango require being practiced alone.

Another aspect needing your attention is musicality:

The way to improve your musicality is to engage in active listening to Tango music, knowing what you are listening to.

Start learning Argentine Tango

The following tips apply either for individual practice as well as practicing with your partner:

1- Improve your walking:

You can always improve your walking.
Start your practice always by walking. You have four speeds for your walk: regular, fast, slow, and very slow.
  • Start with slow, taking 4 counts for each step.

  • Then practice regular speed, stepping on each downbeat.

  • For fast walking practice what is called “corrida”, walking to a quick-quick-slow rhythmic pattern, or down-up-down.

Tango challenges you to make your walk -and your entire life- a work of Art.

More walking exercises…

2- Change of weight:

Change of weight is a variation of walking.
It happens in the same place, without displacement.

Do at least one change of weight when you initiate your dance.

Do not make too many.
 
Here you can find some exercises to practice and improve your change of weight:


Make them with a calm attitude, and while dancing with your partner, this element should give a sense of calm to your partner.

More change of weight exercises…

3- Pauses:

Pauses are among the most important elements of Tango.

When you practice your elements, search for opportunities for pauses.

As examples: 
  • You can make a pause when you do a salida to de side, also called “salida in 2”.

  • You can make a pause in position 3:

  • After change of direction:

4- Pivots:

  • To practice pivots, you can start with bar exercises.

  • If you do not have a bar, use a chair, preferably with a tall back, helping yourself placing your hands on the back of the chair to practice forward and backward ochos.

  • Then, challenge yourself to practice ochos without the help of the bar or chair.

Practice forward and backward ochos with displacements and without displacement.

5- Turns:

  • The best exercises to improve your turns are chair exercises:

  • and 1-2-3 exercises.

Practice all exercises in both directions of turning: clockwise and counterclockwise directions.

  • Practice chair exercises but without the chair.

  • Other elements used in turns are “rulo”:

  • and “enrosques”:

6- “Paradas” (stops):

Another very important skill to develop to dance Argentine Tango is the control of your inertia and the couple’s inertia.

A great way to work on this skill is to propose yourself to be able to stop at any movement from the 1 to 5 already listed.

  • A classical example of stops is the “sanguchito” or “mordida”:

7- “Calecita”:

This element requires that the follower aligns her axis on the top of one of her feet, allowing the leader to pivot her continuously on one direction.

  • See an example:

8- Embellishments:

A good foundation in your dance makes it beautiful.

Think about embellishments as a natural projection of your good technique, not as a kind of plug-ins movement.

If your walk is deficient, no matter what extra moves you add to your walk, it won’t look good.

Embellishments should arise seamlessly from the work you do on your dance.

  • “Cepillo” (brush):

  • “Rulos” (circles):

  • “Cross and go”:

9- Musicality:

The way to improve your musicality is by engaging in active listening to Argentine Tango music.

Every day we publish a song on our blog.

Subscribe to our blog to receive your daily song…

Osvaldo Pugliese, Argentine Tango orchestra.

Keep in mind:

Practice regularly and consciously, taking care that the practice provides nice sensations of joy to you.

By doing so, you are making yourself generous in extending this joy to your partners and the other dancers that share with you the dance floors of the classes and milongas.

That’s not all:

Dancing shouldn’t be your biggest challenge.

It should rather be the time of amusement, of creativity and exploration of yourself, socializing, relaxing, and releasing stress in a calm and friendly atmosphere.

However, in other to be able to dance with such sensation of freedom and confidence, you will need to expose yourself to a challenge that is greater than dancing Tango, and that is the class and practice.

Also:

  • Take care of yourself, with stretching and regular exercising.
  • Healthy habits of eating and sleep will positively influence your dance.

In sum:

Dancing Argentine Tango presents itself as a way for you to organize your life towards empowering yourself, helping you to achieve your life’s goals, and even provides you with such goals:

To make life beautiful.

Learn to dance Argentine Tango

Continue learning Argentine Tango:

More articles about Argentine Tango

Marcelo Solis answers what is Argentine Tango. He is an expert.

How to dance Argentine Tango?

An introduction to the most important details

Find the answer

Anibal Troilo and his orchestra | Argentine Tango music to learn to dance

Argentine Tango music

Music to learn to dance

Listen and dance!

History of Argentine Tango: El Cachafaz and Carmencita Calderon at Tango (Movie 1933)

History of Argentine Tango

Tango is a culture

Learn more about Tango

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi

Looking for tips about learning Argentine Tango dance?

Looking for tips about learning Argentine Tango dance?

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi

From absolute beginner to a great milonguero/a Tango dancer.

Because you have realized the value of Tango, we are offering here a guide into your Tango journey.

You’ll become more yourself within a community. 

Our human nature makes us social beings: we cannot survive in isolation, hence, success is possible for an individual only with the support of one’s peers.
 
That is to say: you learn to dance Tango not only because of your personal taste and choice. There is also a group of people who share your affinity for Tango, and even you will not agree (and you do not need to agree) with everyone in matters of taste and choices, your success regarding Tango will be always tied to how you relate to those other dancers.
 
Even if you never dance with most of them, you will still be sharing the same dance floor and seats around it at the same milonga.

Not everybody has the same sensitivity.

If you are willing to take the challenge, as a great milonguero/a does: aim for the highest, most beautiful, most poetic, and most sublime.

For me, that is Tango.

With such people, I feel at home, and that is my environment.
That is what I would like to share with you.
My reason for doing so is that my goal is always to become a better dancer, and by inviting and challenging you to have the same goal, I count on you to challenge me in the same way.

We mutually challenge each other to become better dancers.

This is not going to make us rivals or enemies. On the contrary: we will develop a deep friendship.
 
I won’t be distant (like on a stage). I will be approachable. I will dance with you or next to you on the same dance floor. I may have more experience than you, but it may turn out that you are more talented. However, on the dance floor of a milonga, we are equals in essence.
The goal of becaming better dancers cannot be quantified.
How do you quantitatively express a good example of a human being?
How do you quantify excellence or the admiration that someone awakens in you?
It is easy to get confused in a world that values quantification the way our civilization does.
For instance, does the number of members in my Facebook group express the level of my dance?
I could set a goal to end the year with over 2,000 members.
That is really easy to do. By the end of this year, I will achieve this goal. Will that make me a better human being?
 
Let’s make a thought experiment (you now know I like them):
An alien comes to our planet and meets with several people. He meets an industrialist called Henry Rearden, a writer and poet called Oliverio Girondo, Gordon Gekko (a banker), Doug McKenzie (a garbage collector), a nurse called Ratched… etc. and a milonguero called Blas Catrenau…
 
What this alien will immediately perceive is the egalitarianism and spontaneity of the milonguero, who approaches him the same way he approaches everyone.
 
He will be surprised he even hugs him as a greeting.
 
Another aspect is the way the milonguero moves, his expressions, the way he walks: he seems easily in control of himself.
 
His words are sometimes a little cryptic. He speaks assuming that the alien understands what he is talking about.
 
However, he speaks with such comfortable self-confidence that the alien cannot avoid agreeing with Blas, even he does not know what Blas is talking about.
 
For Blas, and for any milonguero in general, it does not matter the way you look, your degrees, your wealth, or your job. If he has something to say about you, he would say it only if you ask his opinion, and only in regard to your dance.
 
Now you can continue on your own with this experiment.
 
Imagine any other characters (anyone you want to include) and let me know how you see the alien’s experience meeting them. You can write it here:

Back on Earth, once you’ve made up your mind and accepted that there is no better way to spend your time in life than making it a work of art and that in this endeavor you won’t find anything that makes more sense than dancing Tango, hence, becoming a great dancer (a realization that can take you a period of time ranging from one day to many years), then, the following advice may help you:
  • 1. Be disciplined, regular, and committed to your study of Tango. While dancing Tango is amusing, it is also different from other ways to amuse yourself. Choose these unique characteristics of Tango to be the main core of your dedication to learning it. Steps, choreographic patterns, socializing, close proximity to partners, are all aspects that Tango has in common with other dances and other kinds of activities. On the other hand, its music is unique; and, also, unique is the approach that milongueros have in relation to Tango: for them, Tango is not a “way of life”, but “Life” itself. 

  • 2. If Tango is life, then your Tango teacher is a life-coach. He or she is teaching you how to live Tango. Your relationship between you and your teacher is based on trust, mutual understanding, sympathy, and patience. Tango makes both of you meet at a very humane level, where both need to accept their own limitations and flaws, as well as good qualities. The potential for improvement of Tango is infinite. In the face of such a wide-open horizon, both student and teacher are students of Tango. Your teacher is your guide through Tango, but also your road companion. Choose carefully.
  • 3. Tango is a world. Your Tango teacher is a bridge to it. Allow yourself to know that world, its inhabitants, its culture. A Tango teacher who is doing a good job will have different levels of approximation to your definitive contact with Tango and, eventually, living-breathing-existing-embodying Tango. The first pool in your “decanting” to Tango will be your teacher’s inner group of students. Not anyone who shows up to class, but those who show up in class regularly, and are noticeably there to learn about Tango. Be perceptive of this difference. Then, your teacher with or without this inner group will take you to your first local milongas. New questions will arise there, that you will need to discuss with your teacher. Eventually, you will visit Buenos Aires. You must trust your teacher with this. He or she, if authentic, is your most reliable connection to Tango in Buenos Aires.

Start learning Argentine Tango:

Watch, listen and read…

 

Argentine Tango dance classes online.

Virtual classes

Online

See schedule:

Marcelo Solis teaches Argentine Tango private lessons.

Private lessons for couples, single students, and with two maestros. What to choose?

Private lessons for couples, single students, and with two maestros. What to choose?

Argentine Tango Masters Miranda Lindelow and Marcelo Solis

Private lessons are the best way to learn to dance Tango and the subtleties of this art.

What is the most efficient way to take your private lessons?

  1. With a partner?
  2. Alone?
  3. With a teacher of the opposite role? 
  4. With a teacher of the same role? 
  5. With a master couple? 

All the options are good.

Let’s see the pros and cons of each approach:

1.1 Taking private lessons with a partner with one teacher:

The main advantage is that you and your partner can practice together. Both of you receive consistent advice because you are learning from the same teacher, and he or she is able to watch you both dancing together.
 
The disadvantage, in this case, is that you are dancing with another student and not with a knowledgeable and experienced dancer. 

1.2 Taking private lessons with a partner and with teachers in both roles (a master couple):

The advantage here is that you both receive expert advice from an experienced leader and follower and that in addition to each of the teachers working individually with both of you, by dancing with you and watching you dance, both teachers can demonstrate elements that you’re working on by dancing together.
This set up is ideal; no cons.

2.1 Taking private lessons alone with a teacher in the opposite role:

You will be dancing with an expert. Your teacher can sense the internal mechanics of your dance and demonstrate the nuances of the dance by transmitting them directly to you via sensations.
It would be good for your teacher to have a chance to see you dance from the outside too. 
In this case, you can take private lessons with a partner once in a while, take your teacher’s group classes, or ideally come to Buenos Aires with us, where we will be able to assess your understanding of Argentine Tango by dancing with you in the context of Buenos Aires’ milongas, watching you dancing with great local dancers, introducing you to our Maestros and getting their feedback on the state of your Tango.

2.2 Taking private lessons alone with a teacher in the same role:

You will be able to focus on the specifics of your role while receiving expert advice from an experienced dancer.
You will be able to dance with your teacher, but it is overall not exactly the same as dancing with a partner of your opposite role.

2.3 Taking private lessons alone with teachers in both roles (a master couple):

This set up is ideal because you can dance with both of them, receive feedback from dancing with them, and from what they can see watching you dance.

Your best option is to set up a combination of all of these kinds of private lessons, including taking group classes and going to Buenos Aires with your teachers, since they are the ones who, being part of the Buenos Aires Tango scene, should introduce you to it.

See your options for private lessons

Neither group classes nor private lessons alone will make you a good dancer.

You need both.

  • If you take only private lessons, you make Tango a private relationship with your maestro, which is not enough to understand what is Tango.
  • If you only take group classes, you are not going to get deep enough into the fine details of Tango to make you a good dancer.
To dance Tango you must be a good dancer.

Start learning Argentine Tango:

Watch, listen and read…

 

Argentine Tango dance classes online.

Virtual classes

Online

See schedule:

Marcelo Solis and Mimi Mehaouchi dancing Argentine Tango at a class.

About our Argentine Tango introductory series for beginners

About our Argentine Tango introductory series for beginners

Marcelo Solis and Mimi Mehaouchi dancing Argentine Tango at a class.

If you are planning to purchase a new device, a telephone, a new computer, or a new car, or even a house, you would probably try to educate yourself about what’s offered on the market, searching the internet, and also going to stores and open houses to see in person and listen to what salespeople have to say, and ask them questions.
With these actions, you educate yourself to make the best possible choice.
You might also prefer to save time and go ahead with your purchase, trusting the reputation of a known trademark, or from your own experience using other devices.
 
For instance, when I purchase a new computer, I always prefer the same brand that I have used for many years, so I don’t need to fully research all the options, since I trust that company.

This saves time.

On the other hand, if what you plan to buy is a house, you will need more time for research and visits to open houses since houses are not as standardized as smartphones, computers, and cars.
And what if you are going to purchase something that is even less standardized, like Argentine Tango lessons?

Join our next introductory classes

What I mean is that there is not much available information that can explain to you what Tango is, since what Tango is cannot be explained solely by words, not even with words and images, and not even through videos.
The only way to know what Tango is is doing Tango.

That is why in our classes we educate you about what is Tango.

In our introductory course, we share our own experience, knowledge, and passion for Tango with you.
 
We would also like to hear about what brought you to Tango.

In our introductory classes you will learn:

  1. How to use your body efficiently with good posture.
  2. How to listen to Tango music and move to the cadence.
  3. Basic elements of the dance, footwork, and technique.
  4. How to maintain a good connection with your dance partner that facilitates moving together.
  5. A sequence of steps that you can use to start dancing Argentine Tango. 
We provide you with resources to aid your learning process: music, videos, and articles with information about Argentine Tango. 
 
We are always open to your questions.
We firmly believe that there is no better way to spend our time than dancing Tango.

We invite you to find out why.

Join our next introductory classes

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Sofia

Would you like private lessons?

Virtual lessons available

In private lessons, we share with you the powerful beauty of Tango:
  • Good, relaxed posture.
  • Awareness about your body, surrounding space, and your partner’s presence.
  • How to listen to Tango music.
  • Basic Argentine Tango patterns.
  • More complex patterns and combinations.

Book your private lesson

Start learning Argentine Tango:

 

Argentine Tango dance classes online.

Virtual classes

Online

See schedule:

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