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Dancesport - Tango

Domenico Soale - Gioia Cerasoli, Italy


Tango History
Tango Characteristics
Tango Interpretation
Couples to Observe
Tango Music
The next Dance, Viennese Waltz
The previous Dance, Waltz


It's Tango time now, which means as a competitor you will have approx. 15 sec to relief your body and mind from the swinging and spatial Waltz movements. The Tango differs considerably from the Other dances, there is now rise and fall, no body sway, the hold changes, thigh veer towards one other and the dancers should prepare there body and mind for the required "staccato" actions. When the Tango intent to starts you feel as a competitor and spectator that in the Ballroom the level of tension and readiness is higher than usual, it seems that a small war is going to start on the dance floor.

What I try to explain here is that many couples don't practice this switching over from
the Waltz to the Tango fundamentals...... in 15 seconds.
Try it and your Tango will improve!

Consider always the roots of the Tango when taking the hold on a Competition, you should radiate already the Spanish/Argentine arrogance, before de music is being played and before having danced a single step. Judges are sensitive people they will notice that radiation immediately.

My conclusion here is, that the Tango competition already starts before.......... the music plays!!

Best Regards

Piet Rullens

Attention: This Information, may not be reproduced without our written permission signed: © Piet Rullens, Rullens Dance Consultancy 1996 all rights reserved For reactions and messages send your mail to:

Tango History

The Milonga is the forerunner of the Tango. The Milonga had already the characteristic head and shoulder movements that suddenly switched over to stillness. In the beginning of the 20th Century the Milonga was danced in small theatres for the High Society from Brazil. in that period the name was changed from Milonga to Tango, the Milonga name carried to many memories from the ghetto's of Buenos Aires.

The Tango was introduced in Europe, actually in Paris in the Argentine community. Until 1907 the Tango was not accepted in London, the dance was to erotic and had many opponents. After some stylistic changes the Tango was excepted by Paris and London that was the time (1912) of the tango-parties, tango-teas and tango-soupier with professional tango demonstrators.

In 1920/1921 the Tango was standardised at the Conference in London, during the "thirties" the staccato actions merged in to the Tango choreography

Tango Characteristics

  • Tango Character: Firm and convincing, Spatial no swing and flow, Staccato actions
  • Movement: Snappy, Dynamic actions switching to superb Stillness. Cat like flexibility
  • Timing: 2/4
  • Bars/min: 33 according the IDSF Rules
  • Accent: On beat 1 and 3
  • Competition: 1,5 - 2 minutes
  • Rise and Fall: No
  • Dynamics: Well balanced combinations of Weight, Time and Spatial motions

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Tango Interpretation

Consider that your Tango must not look mechanical, but your movements must radiate the feeling of an animal (cat - tiger), on top of that you reflect in many figures a certain Spanish arrogance. There is now rise and fall, no body sway, thights and knees veer slightly towards one other (think and feel slim). There is a slight inside edge control in the feet all the time.

The Lady is more to the right and assured somewhat haughty attitude, the couple must radiate the feeling that their bodies absorb in each other, gravity and groundness of the couple increases only in those situations they have to switch to sudden stillness.
As in all dances dancing from the supporting foot is essential, movement of the body is across the feet. The presence of Walks in your choreography will develop your Tango expression, the Tango is rooted as a dance of "Drama and Mood"

Correct timing of the choreography is required to present the right contrast and sharpness between movements and stillness, fighting against or resisting "time" develops a sudden quality to your Tango movements.

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Couples to Observe

There are many famous Champions, one name we can' t forget is "Len Scrivener" from England who dedicated his dancing career mostly to the Tango. An other name that inspired me personally is Anthony Hurley from England. At this moment in the competitive dancing sport, I have found my personal favourites they are:
  • Lucca Barricchi and Loraine Barry
  • Augusto Schiavo and Catarina Arzenton

Tango Music

The CD's that flow into my mind when writing this page are the following: I will come back with my final list of favourites in the near future!
  • "Tango's" Malando Orchestra
  • "Please Mr. Brown" Alma Cogan