Three to Tango

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We finished the Tango routine Tuesday night. And when I say “we”, I mean OwnerGuy finally put the finishing touches on it. Now it is just a matter of rehearsing and getting comfortable with the choreography and timing.

Group class runs right before my lessons so I watched the tail end. The floor was definitely full – no real possibility for social distancing. I thought they still required people to sign up for group class to limit the size but maybe the allowed size has expanded.

This seems like a good thing though. It is possible most of the couples were on their introductory packages and won’t sign on for anything more but I kind of take this as a sign that at least some people are tired of avoiding crowds and staying inside. I’m sure it is also very good for the studio to help recover from the hit they took when things had to shut down.

As an exercise, I’m going to describe the routine here. Again, for me, the act of writing something down helps commit it to memory and then I can visualize the thing in my head. Helps to take away those moments when you are searching for what the next part is.

So this part might not be very exciting if you aren’t into ballroom. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Because the music starts out slow and low, we kill several eight counts in the beginning with a intro that helps set the story. We walk towards each other looking menacingly at each other. Then, we each turn to the side (my right side faces forward) for another count. We then circle each other, changing positions and face each other with the opposite side (my left). On the next circle, I grab her wrist and spin her and we end up side by side.

In this part, we actually have our backs to the audience but it sets up the rest of it so we deal with it. I roll her in, she does a little thing and then we go into a corte. Come out of that, I get her to ronde and then release her so we have this odd connection – my left hand to her right but it is a pose that makes it look strange. Bring her back in and we do a four step to back into a corner facing the audience.

At this point, the music kicks in and we do a quick grapevine across the short side with a couple of swivels through in just because. Coming out of promenade, I step in front of her to cut her off, bring her around then we go into a quick pivot. The pivot lands with a shape (still working on that since it requires different parts of my body to point in different directions). From that we have two walks – the first comes out of the shape and back to neutral but then we end up shaped again.

From there, I do a slip pivot and then go around her and roll her out to my right so we are side by side and facing the audience. Then, I roll her into a shadow position and we do a couple of curved steps finishing with a check and then some back locks to move out of it. I rotate and bring her across me – going to an extended hold for a hinge. Bring her back and we do some swivels.

Coming out of that is another four step where we end in promenade kind of in the opposite corner from the previous four square. At this point, we are again moving away from the audience. I cut in front of her and give her an inside turn with a hand change. At the end of that, I step out as she turns back and we do a couple of step/point things. That part ends with me rolling her back into frame. We end up close to where we started so we went down the short side and came back.

The next part is a fallaway to an oversway. From frame, I take four steps (forward, side, back, back) so I’ve turned around and I’m now going backwards. On that last step, I flip her back into frame (we kind of go promenade for a bit). Two more steps and then we do a lunge to the left and then the oversway. (this part travels diagonally across the floor).

Come out of that and I send her around my head which feels like a lasso from two step. As she walks around, I turn towards her at the end to stop her from going any farther. Then, I do a waist roll across her to change places (backs towards the audience again) but then do something like a continuous roll in from hustle so she rolls in and back out while we turn around and she’s on my right side and we are facing the audience.

From there, we have two walks and I roll in her and do a quick Viennese cross to come around her and we end up in something called a chair. Kind of promenade position with our front legs in a kind of squat. I’m suppose to do another slip pivot coming out of that to bring her around in front of me. Then, there is a step where I’m rotating on my feet while she’s walking around to set up the alignment for the next part which continues down the long side.

It starts with an open box. On the back half, I close my feet and bring her through and then step out to get her to turn around to face me. From there, we do something that resembles a change of place – basically me shifting weight to bring her around and we end up in a double hand hold. I bring her back to me and she has her arms crossed and is on my right side. My left foot should be free. (I’m now using the video of the last part by the way).

We come out of that with two walks and then I turn around and we do a hand change and she ends up on my left side and I’ve got my right arm behind my back. That leads to an underarm Viennese cross where I drop my right arm but stay connected with the left. That unwinds us so I can roll her farther to my left with a shape. At this point, our backs are to the audience. The last part is me rolling her back in and turning around to face the audience.

At that point, she’s on my left side and we sort of end the thing by looking menacingly at each other again. Like we did all this and called it a tie.

The last part with all the arm movements is one of those weird things that just kind of happened. Sometimes, arm stuff looks complicated but there is really only one way to move to wind and unwind and your body just kind of does it naturally. Or maybe I’ve just been at this for so long that it seems natural to me.

I’ll put this in my notebook as well and that’s where I can make other notes. But I find this type of thing to be very useful in helping to learn choreography. I think we all have different ways of learning. I can watch the videos and will do that but writing down all the pieces really helps cement the image in my head which I can play back as many times as I need. Even if I sometimes have to make up my own names for steps. I’m terrible at the names – I just try to describe the actions.

I sometimes try to explain this process to other students who ask how I can memorize these routines. I’m not sure I ever do a good job explaining because they kind of give me funny looks when I talk about writing stuff down.

We have two weeks left to practice which I would normally be freaking out about but this year just makes everything different. I’m just happy to be back with something to perform. And, with that, I’ll call it a post.

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