Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dance Style: Tango

Tango music originated from Argentine, Brazilian and Spanish influences. The earliest traces of the Tango date back to the latter half of the 19th century-to the Milonga, an Argentine folk dance with Moorish, Arabic and Spanish ancestry. Years later, the Argentine Gauchos (streetwise single men) danced a modified version of the Milonga, in the seedy bars and bordellos of Buenos Aires. The dance hold in Milonga is called "close embrace", where the couple are literally dancing chest to chest. This was considered far too risque for polite society.

The dance was later taken on by renowned ballroom dance performers, Verne and Irene Castle. They toned it down so that it could be danced in a socially acceptable manner. The International and American Tango danced in ballrooms today developed from this offshoot. The dance's unique style is expressed in quick double takes with the head and stalking panther-like movements complete with lunges and dips.

"Tangueros" (Tango dancers and singers) did not fair well under Peron period but performance Tango known as "Fantasia" developed in the mid 1950s and sustained interest in Tango in general around the world. As a performance based dance, Fantasia uses many acrobatic movements such as lifts, dips, twirls and ofcourse the characteristic hooking and kicking steps called "Ganchos" and "Boleos". Fantasia can be classified as its own variant, though experienced dancers can carefully execute Fantasis moves while dancing socially.

When the Argentine Tango crowd refers to "Tango", they totally ignore the American, International and Fantasia offshoots. Instead, they are referring to the social dance style used in "Milongas" (Argentine Tango dance parties) around the world. There are three basic types of social Tango -- Milonga, Valtz and Tango. Each of these three has its own distinctive features and music. Milonga, the original, is danced very close, to very fast music and has a lot of staccato foot changes and taps. You dance on every beat of the music. Valtz is danced to Viennese Waltz music, hence the name. It is more flowy and is danced more frequently on the first beat of a measure or the "1" of "1-2-3". Tango is the most sensual of the three, danced to slower, moodier music. It is therefore more precise. Controlled smooth movements allow for the intricate footwork so often associated with this dance. What makes this dance truly unique is that the gentleman can set up situations for the woman to "play" or do embellishments. Whether one dances in the "close embrace" or in the more formal ballroom hold is decided by each couple. Often at Milongas each style are played in sets of three or four and a couple will tend to dance the set together.

Tango has a flavor quite unlike any other dance. The basic rhythm is an 8 count Slow-Slow-Quick-Quick-Slow. The music itself leads to excess. It is a dance that is ironically both showy, yet very intimate. Tango has also been immortalized in such films as "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse"(Rudolf Valentino), "Scent of a Woman" (Al Pacino), "True Lies" (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and "Assassination Tango" (Robert Duvall).


"La Cumparsita/Tango Please"(Medley) Strictly Ballroom soundtrack
"Por Una Cabeza" by Tango Project
"Habanera" from Carmen

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dance Tip: Audience Orientation

Wouldn’t it look a bit awkward if you attended a show where the performers bowed to the set backdrop instead of the audience? To ensure that you are facing the audience at the end of your dance, give yourself some prep time. Figure out the total amount of time it takes do your grand finale and head to the center of the room 20 seconds before that. Listen for the distinctive audio cue that indicates that the song is ending. From that point allow yourself 15 seconds to dance toward the center of the room, another 10 seconds to position yourself to face the majority of the audience and 5 seconds to actually hold the dip. You would need more time if you are doing a more lengthy grand finale like multiple twirls, unwraps, lassos, double handed spins, etc… During your final pose, you can choose to look directly at each other, look slightly above your guests heads or the groom can look admiringly at the bride will she gazes off in the distance.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dance Style: Samba

The Samba originates from Brazil. It was and is danced during the street festivals and celebrations such as Carnival in Rio.. The music has an joyful contagious rhythm which makes even non dancers want to get up and dance. It was first introduced in the U.S. in a Broadway play called "Street Carnival" in the late twenties. The festive style and mood of the dance kept it alive and popular to this day and the rhythm pervades popular music. The South America Samba is slower and more fluid than its American counterpart, which is danced to a faster tempo. Both styles have the basic "Samba Bounce". The beautiful music of the Gypsy Kings epitomizes the addictive Samba style but many modern singers have Samba rhythms.


"Copacabana" by Barry Manilow
"Stop" by Mark Anthony
"La Isla Bonita" by Madonna
"The Girl from Ipanima" by Sammy Davis Jr.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dance Tip: Dancing in the Wedding Gown

The Bride should check to see if she can step backwards in her dress without stepping on the hem. If it pools at your feet, your new husband and your guests may step on it while dancing with you or hugging you. During your dress fitting, take a couple of large steps in every direction and raise your arms over your head. Make sure the dress fits so that you have some freedom of movement. If your dress is too long and has a crinoline, discuss the option of trimming the crinoline with your seamstress. Bring your wedding shoes or a pair with the same heel height during the fitting. We suggest that the gown's hem is not all the way to the floor, especially in the front. Trains can and should be bustled during the reception. This will be the best party of your life and you want to be able to move around, dance and hug people with wild abandon! .A few lessons before the wedding, a dress rehearsal with petticoat, shoes and veil is a good idea. This helps to eliminate surprises and possible distractions on the big day.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dance Tip: Dancing With The Bouquet

Despite the images in magazines of a wedding couple dancing together with a bouquet in the bride's hand, don't do it! These models are not really dancing. They are staged poses. The first dance is a moment dedicated to showing the wedding couple moving together as one, a symbol and celebration of how the newly married will dance through the rest of their lives as a married couple. Holding a bouquet in your hand complicates things and may interfere or block the photographer from getting a good shot.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Cinderella and Prince Charming go to the Ball!

This ball features the best ballroom dancers in the area with general dancing all night long and a fabulous featured performance. Plan on practicing your new dancing skills and navigating a dance floor in formal clothes. Great preparation for your wedding day!

Event: YULETIDE BALL CHAMPIONSHIPS When: Dec 31, to January 3, 2010. Where: The JW Marriott Hotel 14th and PA Ave.W DC 

Organizer: Ron Bennett 
Details: The New Year's Eve Gala (sit down dinner, general dancing, show)  and ballroom competitions throughout the weekend.
Contact:, 301-972-2416 


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Save Money on Your Engagement or Wedding Ring!

SAVE up to 25% on engagement or wedding rings! Mervis Diamond Importers is hosting a Holiday Trunk Show featuring fabulous designers and their collections. This exciting event is taking place at 4 area branches from Dec 4-6.  

The Wedding Dance Specialists are flattered to be one of the few wedding vendors invited and would love to meet you and answer questions! Join us in Chevy Chase on Sat. from 11-4. For details and to RSVP click below:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Gift Certificates Available!

The holidays are just around the corner and so is the wedding! Are you looking for the perfect gift? Giving the gift of dance is a gift that lasts a lifetime. Since social dancing enriches lives and relationships it is a thoughtful and elegant gift to give to a newly engaged couple or their parents. Gift certificates are available for any of our a la carte lessons, Wedding Packages or Other Packages. Purchasing the gift certificate can be handled online or over the phone at (703) 626-7016. We will gladly snail mail or email the gift certificate to you or whomever you designate as the recipient.