Published December 2003

By Maestro Ive Simard

"People who know what is good for others are very dangerous." I.S.

nside the couple, we must learn how to work with different principles, including turns. To facilitate this learning process we must first understand some basic geometric concepts such as an axis, an axel, and a bearing.

First, try to visualize, the floor space shared by the couple as a circumfer­ence. Think of this space as a wheel, with one dancer taking on the role of the hub, and the other that of the rim-the two pair of feet are the spokes.

At the same time we think about the concept of the couple, we must also think about the individual. The individual dancer has her/his own compass or circle. (A compass is a V-shaped device used for drawing a circle or cir­cumference.) The classical dancer is at the center of this compass, the needle of the compass is figuratively centered at the pelvis; the dancer must remain at the center of this circumference. Contemporary dancers have a compass whose imaginary needle is located at the solar plexus; so, the dancer's movements are wider, the circumference is larger. In general, the higher the imaginary compass pivot point is located, the wider the range of this compass will be.

In tango, the pivot on which the needle of our imaginary compass rests is located at the knees, giving tango a smaller circumference than any dance form. The perimeter developed by our legs around this point (the knees) is obviously shorter. With the help of your teacher and on your own, you will have to discover this principle; your individual compass--which is different for every person.

In waltz, for example, we find a dance compass of two circumferences, a whole circle for the man and a whole circle for the woman. These two cir­cumferences are partially superimposed; they overlap. In this case, tne middle of each one of the circumferences is the proper location of each one of the dancers. ·

In tango, the circumference is one; there is only one dance compass for the couple. If you think of a cylinder whose diameter is that of the dance com­ pass and whose height is that of the tallest dancer, you will visualize the three-dimensional space of the couple. When the dancers perform tango, they must move inside this imaginary cylinder. If any part of the body moves outside of this space, this movement is not consistent with tango.

In conclusion, as is true in nature, there are no straight lines in dance. This includes the horizon, which appears to be straight but is in reality a curve of great dimensions. The straight line is an intellectual simplification. All lines in tango are curvilinear, as are all choreographic elements. In observing nature, we describe some lines as straight. In the same way, we use this simplification as we strive to discuss concepts underlining the tango-dance: concepts such as the radius, the diameter and a chord. However, all lines in tango are curvilinear and should be experienced as such, never as a straight line. In French we call this the 'organic element' in reference to the nature of movement and the nature of the cosmos.

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

Next month: Clarification