“Básico”, the tango figure of eight steps, is often the first figure new students will learn as dancers. The beauty of this step is that it covers many of the key elements in Argentine tango. With this step dancers learn to move; backwards, sideways, forwards, feet together and the follower learns the position of “La Cruzada” (the cross).
The problem with most dancers is that once they learn this figure they stop studying it and begin dancing it from memory always the same way and always the same rhythm. If you dance with any dancer they will often dance this figure slow, slow, quick, quick, slow, quick, quick, slow. While this is a practical rhythm that fits well with some music, always repeating this in the same way becomes boring, non improvised and less creative.
As we explore the Basico scales, dancers will begin to break free from this limited mold and develop a better ear for tango music, stronger intension in the lead/follow, and help dancers create their own unique style and interpretation of the dance.
I must credit Gustavo Naveira and Gizelle-Anne for inspiring me with these scales. Back in 2010, after already dancing as a professional dancer for several years I took a beginner class in Buenos Aires with these great maestros. I was shattered when ask to change the rhythm on the basic step. A step I thought was only for beginners suddenly became complicated, challenging and incredible fun to play with. Whenever I feel my dancing lacks variety or commitment I often return to the Basico scales as a way to come back to the roots of tango and breathe new life into my dancing.
In the basico scales dancers will learn to deconstruct this pattern so that they can fine tune their technique, rhythm and vocabulary. Not only do these scale cover the parallel pattern of the basico but nine other variations on this theme. We will look the evolution of this pattern and study how the cross-system was introduced in the 1940’s and explore many variations created by the old milongueros and explore how we can use them in our own dancing to find our own voice based on history and experience.
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