The DVIDA Syllabus - examined

8th September 2009

"Living DVIDA Loca" - Louise Heath


The DVIDA (Dance Vision International Dance Association) has a syllabus for teaching Argentine Tango, based on a Bronze - Silver - Gold progression.

Syllabus details are here - I've reproduced these below, with comments.

Of course, the review is incomplete - the syllabus needs to be taught at a DVIDA school, rather than on their own, which may be why they haven't put information in on technique (embrace, axis and so on).

Those caveats out of the way, here we go...

Bronze I

  • 1) Basico - Basic
  • 2A) Cambio de Peso en el Lugar - Weight Changes in Place
  • 2B) Paso al Costado - Side Step
  • 2C) Cadencia - Rock Step
  • 3) Caminada - Walking
  • 4) Ochos Para Adelante - Forward Ochos
  • 5) Ochos Para Atras - Back Ochos


With the exception of 1) (which I assume is the Basic 8 figure), this looks spookily similar to the content of the first and second classes I teach in my beginner's course - for example, here.

I don't think the Basic 8 is appropriate for what I teach, so I'm happy to leave that out.

Bronze II

  • 6) Molinete a la Derecha - Windmill to the Right
  • 7) Molinete a la Izquierda - Windmill to the Left
  • 8) Basico en el Sistema Cruzado - Cross System Basic
  • 9) Caminada Variacion - Walking Variation
  • 10) Caminada Con Giro - Walking with Turn


"Windmill" is a fairly ugly term, but basically this is the giro, walking in a cross system, and changing tempo. Seems reasonable enough.

Bronze III

  • 11) Sacada con el Pie Izquierdo - Displacement with the Left Foot
  • 12) Sacada con el Pie Derecho - Displacement with the Right Foot


Mmm....sacadas... dunno. Could be just my personal preference, but I'm not keen on these for beginners.

Full Bronze

  • 13) Boleo con Cruzada en Espiral - Boleo with Spiral Cross
  • 14) Parada, Barrida & Pasada con Gancho - Stop, Sweep, and Pass Over with Hook
  • 15) Parada, Sandwich al Reves & Pasada con Media Luna - Stop, Reverse Sandwich, Pass Over with Half Moon


No no no. Boleos? For beginners? Are you people completely insane? I'm not totally sure what the others are, but they sound a bit too sequence-based for my tastes.

Paradas are just blocks - surely these are easier than boleos or even sacadas?

Silver I

  • 16A) Molinete Right with Block
  • 16B) Molinete Left with Block
  • 17A) Back Ocho with Right Foot Barrida
  • 17B) Back Ocho with Left Foot Barrida
  • 18) Back Boleo and Forward Boleo
  • 19A) Parada at Position 2
  • 19B) Spiral Cruzada
  • 19C) From Cruzada to Position 2
  • 20) Media Vuelta


Ummm. Well, it sounds ... interesting...

Silver II

  • 21) Scissors Outside Partner Left
  • 22) Molinete with Sacadas
  • 23) Ocho Cortado
  • 24) Back Sacada


I quite like these - the Ocho Cortado is mostly taught as a sequence, frankly, and giros with sacadas are a good technical challenge.

Silver III

  • 25) Gancho Left and Right
  • 26) Molinete with Ocho Cortado


Ganchos seem reasonable at this level - but weren't they covered already in Step 14)? It looks like they're recommending teaching a gancho as part of a sequence, then teaching it later as a step. Which seems strange.

As for "Molinete with Ocho Cortado" I'm not sure what the benefit is here - it's simply a combination of two previously-learnt steps, surely ( numbers 6) / 7) and number 23] from the list)? OK, so they learn to chain moves together, but chaining two sequences is like chaining two sentences - I think it's the wrong way to go in terms of dance.

Full Silver

  • 27) Left Turn Combination
  • 28) Barrida from Parada at Position 2
  • 29) Boleo from Molinete
  • 30) Calecita


Calecita (Carousel) is a good move to learn, it takes a while to get it right. Not sure about the others, they seem again to be combinations of previously-learnt steps?

Intermediate Gold

  • 31) Revolving Forward Ochos
  • 32) Revolving Back Ochos
  • 33) Sacada de la Pierna
  • 34) Sacada Left, Sacada Right, Sacada de la Pierna
  • 35) Promenade with Leg Wrap
  • 36) Overturned Forward Ochos
  • 37A) Cruzada to Position 2 with Carpa
  • 37B) Carpa from Outside Partner Left
  • 38A) Enrosque, Lapiz and Block
  • 38B) Enrosque Variation and Back Sacada
  • 38C) Man's Planeo and Barrida
  • 39) Grapevine and Media Vuelta


"Sacada de la Pierna" - "leg sacada"?? Surely all sacadas are leg sacadas...? It's possible that (looking here) Sacada de la Pierna is a sacada out of a leg wrap, so much more using the leader's leg to provide the impulse than normal. Or, possibly, something totally different...

That aside, some interesting stuff here - I don't recognise many of these immediately, so that seems reasonable as an indication that these are fairly advanced / rare movements.

Full Gold

  • 40) Walking in a Circle with Sacadas
  • 41) Enganche Sacada from Cadencia
  • 42) Man's Back Sacada, Lady's Back Sacada, Sacada de la Pierna
  • 43) Progressive Left Turn
  • 44) Cadena
  • 45) Colgada


Not sure I've ever seen a cadena, but it sounds interesting... I suspect it's very similar to a twirly-chained-sacadas sequence I like.

Colgadas, but no volcadas?


This is an example of how they define number 14.

Basically, it's a 17-step sequence, with very detailed instructions on how to get to each specific position.

So, presumably, you'd need to learn this sequence, and get it right, in order to pass the exam. Presumably, also, you'd need to learn similar sequences for many of the other 44 items.

Clearly, there's a lot of work gone into designing this syllabus; each part is meticulously documented, there are diagrams and notations and stuff. I assume this follows similarly-thorough descriptions for ballroom dancing. So one has to respect the effort taken over this.

But... well... there's no indication of how each sequence should be led. There's no indication of when it should be led. There's nothing about musicality. There's nothing about axis. There's nothing about posture. There's nothing about embrace. So, possibly I've got the wrong end of the stick, and there's a whole separate examination and syllabus on these very issues - but if so, I can't find it. So in the absence of such topics, I'd assume that this will simply teach you how to execute 40-odd sequences, very well.

There's nothing inherently wrong with this, and some things are near-impossible to teach outside of a sequenced way; giros and ochos coratdo for example. But, you know, it's not all about sequences. Learning to dance based on sequences is like learning French from a phrasebook (and only from a phrasebook).

The Program overview here sounds good - but, again, it's all move-based. How can they claim that (for example) "leaders will begin to develop their own improvisational skills and musical interpretation" from Bronze I, if these are not examined? Or am I missing something?

The descriptions seem to overuse Spanish - it kind of feels like they're throwing in the Spanish to make it sound more glamorous. Surely it'd be easier to simply have one description, rather than a Spanish and an English one for each sequence?

So, I guess, the actual steps taught seem to be reasonably well-organised. But it's not including the heart of the dance. Maybe it's impossible to do this in any syllabus - but then why bother with it?

- David Bailey, 8th September 2009

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