Musicality in your dance is 50% of the work. Knowing figures and decorations is one thing, but applying them to a given tango tune in a musical fashion which enhances not only the external look of the dance to your audience, but also enhances your own enjoyment of the dance, is another important factor.
So how can you improve your musicality and improve your Argentine Tango interpretation?
1. The most obvious thing is to listen to lots of tango music… traditional tango music… every day… until you begin to recognise all the popular tunes you hear at milongas. This will take time, but will tune your ear to the rhythms and structure of typical tango tunes.
If you don’t have the money to buy tracks/CD’s you can listen to tango tunes from your favourite video service or music streaming website, and if you have on-line radio, there are some good tango stations out there who stream hours of tango music to listeners. So, no excuses! You can squeeze in 1/2 hour of tango music while travelling to/from work, walking the dog, out running, etc. every day 🙂
2. Learn the structure of what you’re listening to. Most Argentine tango tunes (especially those from the Golden Age (early 1930’s – late 1950’s) do have a recognisable structure.
You need to be able to listen to the music and react to it rather than just hearing it as a background noise. Typically, tango tunes are split into phrases which are repeated (with variation) through out the tune. There are often two or three musical themes repeated also, in an ‘A-B-A-B-A’ or ‘A-B-A-B-C’type pattern.
So as well as getting to recognise popular tunes off by heart, knowing the typical structure of a tango tune allows you to anticipate how you might dance to tunes you’ve never heard before as you begin to listen to the first phrases of the tune.
3. Practise dancing musically, of course! When you are in a Practica, don’t be afraid of trying out steps such as rock steps and rebounds to accentuate not just the stepping beat but half beats too. Try out your adornments in a similar manner, and don’t forget to use pauses as well. Smooth elegant tango dancing will always have some pauses in it. Music is written in phrases and sections. Singers have to draw breath. Each of these elements will result in a natural pause in the music, so use them.
In conclusion, if you make a regular habit of listening to tango music, understanding it’s structure and practising your interpretation at Practica, your dancing will become more musical, and your partners will notice 🙂
For more information about dancing with musicality read our new series called ‘Musicality in Tango Dancing‘