Published October 2003

By Maestro Ive Simard

"Every walk in life, every practice of art, demands concentration and wholehearted attention. Attention is the focus of consciousness." I.S.

In tango, the first thing you learn is walking; the last thing you master is walking. You will need patience, attention and tenacity. The first principle of attention for a beginner is concentration.Concentration is required not only in tango but also in every walk of life. A person without concentration is a failure in tango and in life. Tango is, above all, a way of life.
A step in tango is in itself an entire figure. You will have to walk from one foot, to.between two feet (split weight) and finish on one foot; this is called a closed step. Ask your teacher for more detail on this.

The line which separates you_r body in two halves from back to front and also from left to right is called the line of gravity (LOG). This vertical line, the LOG, is your relationship with the floor and it remains vertical at all times as long as you are traveling. Your body is also divided in two parts--an upper and a lower part--by an imagi­nary horizontal line that divides your body in two approximately at the height of your wrists. This horizontal line meets your vertical LOG at a point called your-center of gravity (COG), which also travels in a horizontal manner. In other words, the position of the body should have the head centered above the shoulders, the shoulders above the rib cage, the rib cage above the hips, the hips above the legs,­ and the weight of the body over the ball of the foot.

In tango we walk, we step and we march. Walking requires moving the thighs from the hip joint. Half of your weight will be carried for­ ward, backward or sideways according to your intention. Stepping takes place when you move the lower part of your leg, from the knee to the foot. It is a foot placement, with no weight involved. Marching involves the hips; it is an up and down swing that originates at the thighs, with your feet detaching from the floor and your weight placed boldly on the foot. Here - again·, ask your teacher to demonstrate this important point.

In synthesis, we have three ways of progressing on the floor accord­ ing to how we account for our weight and the placement of the feet: a neutral action (a walk), a negative action (a step), and a positive action (a march). All three forward moving actions-the walk, the step and the march-call for presenting the knee first and moving your weight from the ball of the foot, to a flat foot. It is not aesthetically pleasing, nor is it good for your anatomy to move onto your heel first. In any backward action, you will move from your thighs first, and then place your weight on the foot. The most difficult action to master is a neutral one, where the weight is split and the COG is divided in two parts. This is the main key to this dance. Here once more, your teacher will help you see this fundamental concept

Ive Simard is the president of the Argentine Tango Master Association (ATMA).

Next month: Impact and correction, compression and leg swing.