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TANGO'S LEXICON

Susana Domingues portrait
I've created this tango terminology page which I hope will assist in your learning and augment existing lexicon pages




Abbreviations    
  • CW: clockwise
  • CCW: counter clockwise
  • R: right
  • L: left
  • LOD: line of dance


Listed Alphabetically...

Aguja (needle)
an effect in the positioning of the man's working foot during a rulo: tip of foot touching floor and heel straight up, knee bent

Alternate Basic
In the Alternate basic both partners use the L for # 3 and the R for # 4. He may or may not pause for her # 5 but she must cross L over R for # 5 regardless. # 6-7-8 resumes in parallel system (regular basic).

Alternate System
see Crossed System>>

Amague
Sometimes called a Saludo, it is a woman's embellishment similar to a 'frappe' (beating motion) in ballet. It involves quickly crossing one leg in front of, or behind the other, before taking a step.

Arranque
A leaders' device to create momentum during a molinete. It occurs when he pauses while leading her to a side step, then follows with Entradas.

Basic or 8-count basic
# 1: his backward R during her forward L
# 2: his side L during her side R
# 3: his forward R (outside her R) during her
       backward L
# 4: his forward L during her backward R
# 5: his feet together (1/2 step) during her cross L
       over R
# 6: his forward L during her backward R
# 7: his side R during her side L
# 8: he closes his L to his R while she closes her
       R to her L
Bicycle
a woman's embellishment (not led), similar to one backward peddling motion. She extends her working leg in the air, bends knee while lifting knee, places working foot touching the outside of the supporting leg so legs form the # 4 shape, lowers working foot along supporting leg until it is crossed over supporting foot

Boleo
is a movement which appears to throw the working leg in a circular motion. For example, a back boleo can be executed by pivoting the supporting leg (say R) one direction (CCW) while extended the working foot (L) back, then quickly changing directions, pivoting CW on the standing leg (R) before the working foot has completed the extension back. This creates its characteristic whip effect. If the working foot is lifted during the pivot CW, this is considered a high boleo which adds to the appearance of a circular motion. A front boleo can be executed by pivoting the supporting leg (say R) one direction (CW) while extended the working foot (L) front, then quickly changing directions pivoting CCW on the standing leg (R), while lifting the L foot during the pivot. To execute the front and back boleo's simultaneously, it is necessary to join the feet immediately afer each boleo.

Calesita
a movement in which the man leans the lady's axis on his and steps around her placing all his steps equidistant to her supporting leg. If he steps further away from her supporting leg during the calesita it creates a deeper angle and is often called Carpa (tent).

Carpa
see Calesita>>

Change of front
Translated from "Cambio de Frente", simply involves facing a new direction. However, some teachers (myself included) use the term to specifically refer to a particular method of turning for the leader in which he pivots both feet CW (or both feet CCW) at the same time. For a 90 degree turn, he begins in parada position and pivots until he stands straight with both feet apart (or vice versa: start standing, end in parada position). For a 180 turn, he begins in parada position, reaches standing position at 90 degrees but continues turning until he is once again in the parada position. Frequently accompanies the woman's molinete, this effect creates an interesting cadense in her movement.

Contra-enrosque
a leader's inside or outside turn which has been embellished by tucking one foot close in front of the other during his pivot. This creates the appearance of a turning coil, like the turning stripes of a barber shop sign or the threading of a screw. He can further this illusion on an outside turn by immediately following with a transfer of weight and a back sacada. He can further this illusion on an inside turn by immediately following with a lapiz using the foot that was tucked in front. Contra Enrosque is executed while the follower dances the molinete. See also Enrosque >>

Crossed System
Crossed System or Alternate System occurs when both partners move the R at the same time or the L at the same time. See also Alternate Basic>>

Displacement
a loosely used term which refers to a dancer occupying their partner's previous space (not necessarily their exact previous axis). It is always happening in Tango, even in the basic walk. see Sacada>>

Enrosque
a leader's outside turn which has been embellished by tucking one foot close behind the other during his pivot. This creates the appearance of a turning coil, like the turning stripes of a barber shop sign or the threading of a screw. He furthers this illusion by immediately following with a transfer of weight and lapiz. Enrosque is executed while the follower dances the molinete.

Entrada
Occurs when the dancer occupies their partner's previous axis by stepping inside the partner's trailing foot during their molinete. This term is more specific than sacada or displacement, though often interchanged.

Gancho
see Hook>>

Gancho Pasajero (passenger hook)
is a hook (gancho) that is executed on the way to another step. The working leg appears to wrap over the partner's leg while hooking, then releases and proceeds to the next step

Grapevine
pattern in which side steps separate alternating front and back steps: ie frontL-sideR-backL-sideR-frontL-sideR...

Hook
Translated from "Gancho", occurs when a dancer's knee bends to wrap or hook around partner's leg. One should not execute a gancho when the working leg is not in contact with the partner's leg. If a woman is not in contact with the partner's leg when lead to a gancho, she can do an amague instead.

Lapiz (pencil)
while supporting leg pauses, working leg executes an arc shaped figure lightly along the floor during her molinete

Line of Dance (LOD)
since tango is a walking and turning dance, the set direction for group movement is CCW. CW turning is of course allowed but in time, each couple should progress forward along LOD. See Floorcraft section of Dance Tips page for more detail.

Milonga
has 2 meanings: 1) a tango social 2) a related Argentine music and dance which preceded tango as we know it

Molinete (windmill)
a grapevine done in circular form while partners move in a windmill-like formation

Parada Position
supporting leg bent, other leg extended in front, knees together

Passenger Hook
see Gancho Pasajero>>

Planeo
occurs when one holds the quebrada position (working leg pauses) while pivoting on supporting foot during several steps of the partner's molinete

Quebrada (breaking) Position
supporting leg bent, other leg extended behind or beside with foot touching the floor, knees apart

Rulo (curl)
while supporting leg pivots, working leg executes a curl shaped figure lightly along the floor. It accompanies a change of direction (ie. CW to CCW) at the beginning or end of her molinete

Sacada
Occurs when the dancer appears to remove a partner's trailing leg. It is not limited to the circumstances of an entrada ie not limited to: 1) involving a molinete 2) stepping inside the partner's trailing foot 3) occupying the partner's previous the axis.

Salida (take-off)
the start of pattern or sequence. ie # 1-5 of the 8 count basic are considered a salida

Salida Cruzada
In the Salida Cruzada partners dance to # 5 of the basic, however both partners use the L for # 3 and the R for # 4. He may or may not pause for # 5 but she must cross L over R for # 5 regardless.

Saludo
see Amague>>

Tent
see Calesita>>
return to top >>



   
 










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