Walking Is Not Dancing

28th January 2009

(More Next Steps articles.)

"Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk". ~ Tony Stark


Sooner or later someone will tell you that "Tango is walking".

Which is good because I like walking. One of my favourite things is to be led by an intermediate woman who's just learning to lead. Nice gentle walks. No double time, no boleos. It really is a zen walking meditation. There doesn't even need to be music.

That last bit probably should have tipped me off.


Tango is about dancing.

Yes, it is lovely walking around a floor. But to dance tango is something different.

The torso turns, which just seem annoying overkill when all you want to do is walk, let you add expression to a dance. As do those pesky double times. In fact there's a multitude of things you can add to "step forward" - different timings, heights, hesitations in a variety of ways, a range of dynamics, different degrees of torso turning, cross system, inside and outside.

But it's not really walking (unless you walk in a very strange way). It's dancing.

But it's subtle dancing. There's a difference between "doing your repertoire of techniques" and dancing. All of the above are just expressions of "step forwards". They let you dance around the floor doing nothing more than stepping forwards for the whole dance. But to make sense they need to be expressions of the moment born of the connection between the dancers and the music.

Tango is about the subtle. With a clear connection and a deep understanding of walking, a simple step provides a great vehicle for expression.

Walking and dancing

To be honest I think there's a place for both. Just make sure you want the same thing as the person you're dancing with.

 - Christopher O'Shea, 28th January 2009

Related articles