Walking Scales

In Argentine tango, “La Caminata” (The Walk) is one of the most important elements. To quote Robert Duvall, “The beginning and the end of the tango is the walk.” La Caminata can be danced in a cat-like fashion -smooth and elegant -ready to pounce, or with a dominant, heavy stride, moving deliberately with the music. While students often assume the walk is a basic movement, the mastery of it’s technique, feeling and musicality can distinguish someone who dances with presence and passion from someone who dances disconnected from the music and their partner.

In the Walking Scales we will look at movement variations that offer a variety of options to navigate around the floor. For these scales we will use numbers as a guide to count how many steps it takes until the leader returns to their initial starting point.  In this manner we will look at and classify patterns that take only one step before starting over and call these patterns ‘walking on one’, the next scale taking two steps before returning to the beginning position, classified as “walking on two”. This format will be used to name the remaining patterns, walking on 3, 4, and 6. Aside from these classic patterns and variations we will explore a few exceptions such as cross-system walking patterns and cadenas (linked steps that involve many sharp pivots).

We must construct our movement like writing a melody or a paragraph. There needs to be a clear opening statement (intention), strong consistent material (the walk) and an obvious ending (conclusion). When working on steps/scales, it is not only important to master the memory and ability to dance all variations and scales but also to put a focus on the musicality and cadencia (cadence) of the scales.

“A good dancer you recognize by the way he walks, not by acrobatic figures”

Pablo Veron