“Tango and Chaos” by Rick McGarry

We are happy that
is on-line again!

This is the place where our tango journey has begun. At some point we have noticed that learning choreography does not work. On “Tango and Chaos” we have found a lot of explanations of what is going on. Rick made a lot of very accurate observations, which was very valuable for us.
On the other hand, when it comes to practicing, we felt that a lot of ingredients where missing. And there is no a consistent recipe. A lot of very interesting observations is not a recipe yet. This situation leads to our journey of figuring out how do “gears” work. That is, we have started digging from the other side. I.e. Rick made observations, we have started searching for explanations of his observations.
For example this chapter:
ends with a picture with a caption:
“The dual nature of tango. This is a picture worth studying.”
So, we have started studying it. And we have noticed that there is a trap. We can mimic “cats and horses legs” but this is just a “shallow copy”. What we need is an understanding of natural body dynamic that leads to the mentioned observations. When we write body, we mean “the One Body On Four Legs”.
And we have found it 🙂 Yes, it is the Weight Shift described previously:
The Woman’s “cat leg” is the Projection before the Weight Release and the Weight Shift. As the Woman, if you start practicing with your partner the Tango walk based on the Weigh Shift, the “cat leg” is the natural way to do it. That is, it is the Natural Dynamic of the One Body on Four Legs. The same with the Man’s “horse leg”. This is the natural leg dynamic during the Weight Shift. As the Man, just start practicing the Weight Shift with your partner.
The best part is that everything looks consistent and it works in practice 🙂

There are more details and we will write about them.

The Yin and Yang of the Tango

It is quite interesting to think about the Tango while listening to the parts of the interview 🙂


In 03:08 you can hear fading voice “This is very un-western…”

When you want to move — you are moving. And when you move, you are determined to move! Not accepting even one inch less than 100 percent of your honest feelings. Not anything less than that. So that is the type of thing you have to train yourself into. To become one with your feelings so that, when you think — it is

Flow in the living moment. — We are always in a process of becoming and NOTHING is fixed. Have no rigid system in you, and you’ll be flexible to change with the ever changing. OPEN yourself and flow, my friend. Flow in the TOTAL OPENNESS OF THE LIVING MOMENT. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Moving, be like water. Still, be like a mirror. Respond like an echo.




What Are We Doing Here?

We keep asking ourself about the Tango. Our thoughts are as follow.

Q: Can we dance like the Milongueras and Milongueros without absorbing tango from them?
A: Yes, we can.

Q: What is tango about?
A: 90% emotions + 10% technique (we are not sure, it can be 99%+1%)

Q: Can we make an intellectual description of tango?
A: We can make an intellectual description of the tango’s technique.

Q: So, can we learn only 10% of tango, without the Milongueras and Milongueros?
A: We can dance _just_like_ the Milongueras and Milongueros.

Q: How is it possible? What does it mean “_just_like_”?
A: The Milongueras and Milongueros do extract emotions from tango music by pure improvisation on the fly. Emotions are encoded in tango music. Even they all will gone some day, emotions still will be available in tango music. We can find a technical key that allows extract emotions from music _just_like_ the Milongueras and Milongueros do. So, it will be _our_extract_ of emotions from the _same_source_. And it will be done using the _right_recipe_, the Milongueras and Milongueros’s recipe, which nobody has defined yet. (Of course, we can master the language but our accent will remain exotic.) The problem is that the Key is only one and it gives wide spectrum of visible results. We can find 10 different milonguero pairs who look like they were dancing 10 different types of tango. On the other hand when we keep watching milonguero pairs we feel that they are the Milongueras and Milongueros. We believe, we can find the intellectual description of the Key. (Or we can travel to Bs As to absorb the Key directly from the Milongueras and Milongueros.)


The Weight Shift aka The Weight Change

You have heard somewhere about the Weight Change. It is more about shifting weight of a body, so calling it the Weight Shift is more appropriate. But what does it mean? Can you explain it? Yes, you can 🙂

The Weight Shift in the Tango means shifting the woman’s weight onto her lead leg, by the man.

The Weight Shift is the Key to the Tango. That is, it defines the Tango. Doing the Weight Shift in every step is peculiar to the Tango. This is unheard of in other dances. The Weight Shift defines all tango concepts: the Intention, the Projection, the Collection, the Weight Release and the Dissociation. All this concepts are tools that allow to share emotions between the woman and the man and move dynamically accordingly to tango music.
Let’s use simply sketches to explain idea of the Weight Shift and the other concepts. The first phase on the sketch is just after the Weight Release, preceded by the Intention and the Projection. So there is the time for the Weight Shift. The woman’s L leg is anchored to the floor. Her T leg is unanchored already. In this phase woman’s weight is delivered to the man (the Weight Release). The man can perform the Weight Shift i.e. put the woman on her L leg, by pushing her chest. After the Weight Shift, and the Collection, pair stands in start/end position. One Body On Four Legs is ready to the next Intention of the man. L leg becomes T and T leg becomes L respectively.



  • Notice that at the beginning of the Weight Shift the woman’s L leg is on the floor already but the man’s L leg is still above the floor! This delay is significant and it is “very tango”.
  • As the woman, keep step length small and constant. At the start/end position of step (i.e. before man’s next Intention) the woman is standing just a little out of balance, just behind edge of balance. Small step gives, before the Weight Shift, perfect angle for clean movement. If the woman put L leg too far she becomes “heavy”, position becomes wobbly, the movement becomes inefficient i.e. it will require more energy for one step. (Let’s say that step length is constant. Do not increase step length. We will explain it later)

At some time we will upload a video…

The Dancing Brain


Open Letter from Tete to Tango Dancers Around the World

Buenos Aires, December 11, 1998

The tango is a feeling. It is not difficult to learn. Nor is it easy. But it is not danced by figures and steps. It is danced to the music. I know of no dancer anywhere in the world who dances without music. You cannot be mistaken for so long. Dancing without music, you will never learn tango.

Producing Choreography

…there’s something about the temporal structure of the music, the emotional content of the music, that arouses areas of the brain that are still functioning and allows a lost ability to become present as they participate in the music. – Dr. Concetta Tomaino, Executive Director/Co-Founder, Institute for Music and Neurologic Function

Gait Pattern
Effects of Auditory Rhythm and Music on Gait Disturbances in Parkinson’s Disease
Walking with Music Is a Safe and Viable Tool for Gait Training in Parkinson’s Disease: The Effect of a 13-Week Feasibility Study on Single and Dual Task Walking
Rehabilitation of Neurologically Affected Gait with Music Enhanced Treadmill
The Impact of Rhythmic Music on Walking Gait for Individuals with Cerebral Palsy


Connected to the Music, Disconnected from a Choreography, The Milongueras and Milongueros

There is an another use of the “natural” word in the tango context. It is about natural body movement to the music. It is something you can train by opening yourself. On the other hand, if you train youself in a choreography you are losing this natural connection. It is not easy to explain this but we have found an interesting example. And when it comes to the naturality of movements they are performing better:


than those:

Why better? Because he is trying to transfer his natural movements to hers body and she is staying open for this transfer. If she adds something from herself to his internal, natural rhythm, she destroys it and the disease will hit back. This is definition of the tango. This is literally what the Milongueras and Milongueros are doing. And a choreography is just an artifact of finding a free place on a floor, avoiding collisions etc. (Notice that the man got emotional at the end and this became awkward for her so she run away from his emotions.)

So, there is the path to the tango. As the man, you train yourself to move naturally accordingly to the tango music and then you train yourself to transfer this movements to the woman’s body. As the woman, you train yourself how to open yourself to this transfer. What the woman does and what the man does are two complementary worlds. That has nothing common with producing of a choreography.

The transfer can be very subtle but it is always full of energy. The Milongueras are trained to do not drown out this transfer by unnecessary movements

The tango is about being together for a moment not about showing off

The proportion between physical energy and emotional energy changes during the life. Different people have different physical abilities and different emotionally matureness.

The woman allows the man for taking the control over her body. Both become the One, to dance out the present moment. There is no past and there is no future. This requires to give away yourself without any specific expectations. It is about to dilute yourself and not about being concentrated/focused on a choreography. The future is something new and an unknown, and in this context the present can scare us. [The future is something new and an unknown, which can be scared.] We expect a pleasure. Who wants to open up to the fullness of feelings? What is the motivation to accept an unspoken emotions that can be transferred only directly from heart to heart? [through the body contact?] It is very intimate to combine empathy [compassion] with sharing his own internal private zone. This intimacy is a mollification [consolation], an acceptance, an excitement… it is the Entrega, that contains fullness of sensations, not only a pleasure.

  • [abc] – We are trying to share our thoughts, feelings and experiences of “the emotional field” of the tango and it is not an easy task. Everything comes down to the practicing of experiencing the tango

Between Words, Between Steps, Between Notes, the Tango

Natural Learning

We wrote that the tango is a natural dance in a some way. There is an another layer of using word natural in the tango context. The tango used to be a natural dance by the way it used to be learn. About 100 years ago people used to learn the tango the natural way i.e. the way you have learnt walking. No teachers were involved. You observed other people and tried to stand on your feet. You tried and fell many times. After 5 years you have became a quite good walker. The tango is not a natural dance anymore in this context. Today people use teachers to learn a tango. Today we have situation like this. You wanted to learn a tango. You found a teacher but he told you that you need to practice the tango for 5 years to enter your first milonga and the most of the time you have to spend practicing walking. This sounds like two jokes in one sentence. You are an adult, you can walk very well and you want to start dancing in next 3 months. You go to an another teacher. This time after one hour you have learned the 8 steps basic and the cross. You saw presentation of the other steps. You could see how cool the sacadas and boleos are. You have bought something valuable and you have felt that you can learn basics in 3 months. You have got a good deal.

Swigert: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”
Lousma: “This is Houston. Say again, please.”
Lovell: “Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.”


Scientists try to understand how the nature works and usually they use simplification process. But there is a trap of oversimplification. If you oversimplify the thing you want to learn you will learn a new thing not the actual thing.

After 5 years of dancing you have become one of the best dancer in you city. You flew to BsAs. You entered the best milonga full of Milongueras and Milongueros. Nobody wanted to dance with you. You went back to your home. You went to your local milonga and started complaining that Milongueras and Milongueros are old people who dance a weird style of a tango. They do not know steps or they are too old to be able to do steps. Your friends understand you. They have taken the same tango classes. They also feel that it is very uncomfortable to dance using the embrace. You know that in the embrace it is nearly impossible to do the steps you have mastered.

The Scientific Way

Science is just a tool. You can use any tool a wrong way. We used to buy steps from our local tango teachers. But at some point we have noticed that we are not able to move accordingly to the the tango music no matter how hard we have tried practicing steps. We have started seeing that Milongueras and Milongueros are able to move accordingly to the tango music but we are not. The tango is a dance and to dance means moving accordingly to the music. And there was much more. We started noticing the connection between the man and the woman during the tango. We started seeing that their movements are very intense in an emotional way. And the most important thing is to move accordingly to the emotions that we can find between the notes, while moving accordingly to the music. We have started understanding the problem. We can change the tango to make it easier for us to learn, but we will end with knowing a tango not the the tango. We have decided to learn the tango. But first we had to learn how to teach tango yourself. We splitted the tango on three fields: the learning barriers, the technical field and the emotional field. Today we think that the most of the tango is covered by the emotional field. We are not sure if this is 80% or 90%. But the technique is just the tip of the iceberg. And at the beginning there are learning barriers: cultural and psychological and an unreal expectations that stop people learning before they even started.

There is an another problem now. Nobody can teach you to feel emotions and how to feel a music. On the other hand the intellectual part can be explained during the one 5 hours workshop including time for exercises. Try to make a living from it as the tango teacher.