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4- Tango Terminology (PART 4 OF 4) R - Z

This list is part of an ongoing effort to educate and assist the friends and enthusiasts of Tango in their pursuit of the lovely dance called Tango.


Source: Steve Brown




---R---

Rabona — A walking step with a syncopated cross. Done forward or backward the dancer steps on a beat, quickly closes the other foot in cruzada, and steps again on the next beat. Adapted from soccer. See Contrapaso and Traspie.

Resolución — Resolution; tango close: An ending to a basic pattern similar to a half of a box step. 6, 7, and 8 of the 8-count basic.

Ritmo — Rhythm: Refers to the more complex rhythmic structure of the music which includes the beat or compás as well as the more defining elements of the song. See Compás.

Rodillas — Knees.

Ronda — (La ronda) Line of dance: Refers to the etiquette of dancing in the line of dance by moving counter clockwise around the dance floor, and using concentric lanes in the traffic to facilitate dancing in close proximity with one another. See Codigos.

Rulo — A curl: Used frequently at the end of molinete when the man, executing a lapiz or firulete ahead of the lady, curls his foot in around the lady and extends it quickly to touch the her foot. An older term for lapiz.


---S---

Sacada — The most common term for a displacement of a leg or foot by the partner’s leg or foot. Occurs when a dancer places their foot or leg against a leg of their partner and transfers weight to their leg so that it moves into the space of and displaces the partner’s leg. See Desplazamiento.

Salida — From salir - to exit; to go out: The first steps of dancing a tango, or a tango pattern, derived from “¿Salimos a bailar?” {Shall we (go out to the dance floor and) dance?}.

Salida de Gato — A variation on the basico in which the man steps side left, forward right outside the lady, diagonal forward left, and crossing behind right with a lead for forward ochos for the lady. The lady is led to step side right, back left, diagonal back right, and crossing forward left, beginning ochos on her left foot. This figure enters ochos without using cruzada.

Saltito — A little jump.

Sandwiche — See Mordida.

Sanguchito — See Mordida.

Seguidillas — Tiny quick steps, usually seen in orillero style. May also be called corridas.

Seguir — To follow.

Sentada — From sentar - to sit. A sitting action: A family of figures in which the lady creates the illusion of sitting in, or actually mounts, the man’s leg. Frequently used as a dramatic flourish at the end of a dance.

Stork — See Calesita. Not used often or much recommended but refers to a position of the lady where the working leg is held with the lower leg lifted and horizontal in a figure four, or cuatro, position.

Suave — Smooth, steady and gentle, soft, stylish. A major objective in tango.

Syncopation — Syncopate; syncopated; syncopa: A musical term adopted by dancers and used in a way which is technically incorrect, musically, and leads to endless arguments between dancers and musicians. Musically it refers to an unexpected or unusual accenting of the beats in a measure such as the two and four beats of swing music rather than the more common accent on the one and three beats. Dancers have come to use the term to describe cutting the beat, or stepping on the half-beat, which annoys musicians all to heck. Maybe if they could dance the tango we would pay more attention to them.

Sube y Baja — Literally, to go up and down: A milonga step in which the couple dance forward-together and back-together in outside right position with a pendulum action of the hips. See Ven y Va.


---T---

Tanda — A set of dance music, usually three to five songs, of the same dance in similar style, if not by the same orquesta. The tandas are separated by a brief interlude of non-tango music called a "cortina" (or curtain) during which couples select each other. It is customary to dance the entire tanda with the same partner unless the man is rude or very disappointing as a dance partner, in which case the lady may say gracias (thank you) and leave. See Codigos, Cortina.

Tango — Popular music from the Rio de la Plata region dating back to 1885-95, defined by a 2/4 rhythm until the 1920s when a 4/8 rhythm became common. A popular dance originating in the mid-19th century which descended from Candombe, Habanera, Milonga, and, according to some tango scholars, the Tango Andaluz. The exact origins of Tango are a historical mystery. Also see Susan August Brown's Argentine Tango: A Brief History.

Tango de Salon — An elegant and very social style of tango characterized by slow, measured, and smoothly executed moves. It includes all of the basic tango steps and figures plus sacadas, giros and boleos. The emphasis is on precision, smoothness, and elegant dance lines. The dancing couple do not embrace as closely as in older styles and the embrace is flexible, opening slightly to make room for various figures and closing again for support and poise. Also see Stephen Brown's Styles of Argentine Tango.

Tango Fantasia — This is a hybrid tango, an amalgam of traditional tango steps, ballet, ballroom, gymnastics, ice-skating figures, etc. This is what most people see when they buy tickets for a tango show. The moves include all of the basic tango moves plus, ganchos, sacadas, boleos of every kind, sentadas, kicks, leaps, spins, lifts, and anything else that the choreographer and the performers think that they can get away with. Alas, this style of dancing shows up from time to time at the milongas, usually badly performed by ill-behaved tango dancers and frustrated tango performers who insist on getting their money’s worth even if they have to kick, step on, bump into, or trip every other dancer on the floor. This behavior is NOT socially acceptable. Also see Stephen Brown's Styles of Argentine Tango.

Tango Liso — Literally, tango smooth: A way of dancing tango characterized by its lack of fancy figures or patterns. Only the most "basic" tango steps and figures, such as caminadas, ochos, molinetes, etc., are utilized. Boleos, ganchos, sacadas, sentadas, and other fancy moves and acrobatics are not done. A very early term for Tango de Salon.

Tanguero — (feminine; Tanguera) Refers to anyone who is deeply and seriously passionate about any part of tango, such as its history, music, lyrics, etc. In Argentina most tangueros are scholars of lunfardo, music, orchestrations, Gardel, etc. One can be a tanguero without being a milonguero and a milonguero without being a tanguero (very few milongueros would be referred to as tangueros). And of course, one can be an extremely good tango dancer without being either, such as stage dancers, who are quite disdained by real milongueros and tangueros, unless they go the extra distance and become milongueros by going to the milongas, and/or tangueros as well. An aficionado.

Tijera — Scissor: A movement, usually danced by the man, in which an extended leg is withdrawn and crossed in front of the supporting leg without weight so that it remains free for the next step or movement. May also refer to a figure in which the man steps forward in outside position (left or right) caressing the outside of the lady’s leg with his leg (as in 3 of the 8-count basic), then crosses behind himself which pushes the lady’s leg to cross in front. May also refer to a jumping step from tango fantasia (stage tango) where the lady swings her legs up and over with the second leg going up as the first leg is coming down (frequently seen as an aerial entry to sentadas).

Titubeo — Hesitation. See Pausa.

Trabada — Another term for cruzada.

Traspie — Cross foot; triple step: A walking step with a syncopated cross. Using two beats of music the dancer does step-cross-step beginning with either foot and moving in any direction. See Contrapaso and Rabona.

Truco — Literally, trick or stunt: May be used to describe fancy athletic movements in addition to lifts for stage or tango fantasia.


---V---

Vals — Argentine waltz: Sometimes referred to as Vals Criollo, or Vals Cruzada, and danced to what is arguably the most beautiful dance music anywhere (editorial bias!:-).

Vareador — From horse racing; a man who walks the horses but is never allowed to mount them: In tango, it refers to a man who dances and flirts with all the ladies but never gets involved with anyone. May also refer to a man who is a clumsy or inconsiderate lead who “might just as well be walking a horse.”

Vén y Va — Come and go. See Sube y Baja.

Viborita — Viper; the little snake: A figure in which the man places his right leg between his partners legs and takes a sacada to first her left and then her right legs in succession using a back and forth slithering motion of the right leg and foot.

Volcada — from Volcar - to tip-over or capsize; a falling step: The leader causes the follower to tilt or lean forward and fall off her axis before he catches her again. The process produces a beautiful leg drop from her. The movement requires the support of a close embrace.

Voleo — See Boleo.


---Y---

Yumba (zhoóm-ba) — A phonetic expression that describes the powerful, dramatic, and driving musical accent of a moderate or even slow tempo which is characteristic of the music of Osvaldo Pugliese.


---Z---

Zapatazo — Shoe taps: A dancer taps their own shoes together. See Adorno, Fanfarron, and Golpecitos.

Zarandeo — A vigorous shake to and fro; a swing; a push to and fro; to strut about: In tango, it is the swinging back and forth, pivoting in place on one foot, marked to the lady in time with the music.


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