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Are you contemplating a trip to Argentina to study tango? Following are some Spanish dance terms used in teaching Tango, and a Spanish-English dance vocabulary. You are welcome to print out this information and use it in your travels to study Tango. These are terms that are in common use in the studios. We spent a month studying tango in Buenos Aires and made extensive notes on vocabulary, technical dance terms, and slang (lunfardo). Please don't copy it to your website without a link back to us! Or just put a link to this page on your website!

This information © www.tangocincinnati.com.


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Tango Terms

Adelante
Forward
Al costado
To the side.
Atrás
Backward
Adornos
Embellishments.
Arrastre
A drag. E.g., to drag your partner's foot with your own.
El abrazo
The embrace, as in dance hold.
Abrir
To open.
Amago
(from amagar, To feint, to make a threatening motion.) An amague is used as an embellishment, usually a flick of the foot done before taking a step. It may also be a frappe, a beat done with the foot before taking a step.
Bailamos?
Shall we dance? This is more commonly said than a complete, formal sentence, like "Quisiero bailar contigo" (I would like to dance with you). Also, you sometimes hear "Quieres bailar?" (would you like to dance?).
Barrida
(from barrer, To sweep away.) Sweeping your partner's foot with your own. Also called llevada.
Barrio
A neighborhood in an Argentine city.
Boleo
(from bolear, a type of throwing/swiveling that gauchos do with the boleadoras (a rope with balls at the end of it) in order to tumble down the cattle.) An ornament. Throwing or swiveling one leg with the knees locked together, usually one behind the other. A boleo may be done with the toe touching the floor or higher.
Los brazos
The arms.
Cadena
Chain. A movement of two people across the floor in a circular motion. One partner displaces the other partners leg and rolls across the front of their body. The other partner continues the motion. Must be seen to be appreciated.
Caminar
To walk.
Candombe
A type of dance done by the descendants of black slaves in Argentina. A type of tango music with a marked rhythm played on a drum. The place where blacks went to dance (synonymous with 'milonga').
Canyengue
An older style of tango.
La Cintura
The waist.
El compás
The beat
Corrida
A running step used in milonga, a series of small steps in double-time.
Corte
Cut. Corte means cutting the music either by syncopating or stopping for a moment, taking something away from the principal move. Opposite of Firuletes.
Cruzar
To cross.
Cruzada
The cross. Crossing one foot in front or in back of the other.
Derecha
Right.
Derecho
Straight.
El cuerpo
The body
Los dedos
The fingers, toes
Despacio
Slowly.
Desplazamiento
displacement-Displacing a partner's foot or leg using your own foot or leg.
Dibujo
A drawing or sketch. A dibujo is done by drawing circles or other small movements on the floor with the toe.
Doble Tiemp
Double time.
El eje
The axis (of the body).
Enganche
Hooking or coupling, wrapping your leg around your partner's leg.
Enrosque
From enroscar, to coil, twist, or screw. To spin on one foot while hooking the other foot behind, usually while the woman is executing a molinete.
Escuchar
To listen.
Fantasia
A style of tango for the stage characterized by large sweeping moves, and often many ganchos. Considered inappropriate in a small club or salon.
Fijarse
Pay close attention to.
Gancho
A hook. Used primarily on stage, considered inappropriate for salon tango.
Giro
Turn. When the woman is doing a molinete, the man walks in a circle to his right or left (can be done either direction), sometimes turning sharply, sometimes slowly. One of the basic walking patterns.
Guiar
To guide, also to lead.
Izquierda
Left.
Juntos
Together. From juntar to join together, as in one's feet or knees.
Lápiz
Pencil. A circular figure executed with one foot drawing on the floor.
Llevada
From llevarto carry. Similar to a barrida. The man can move the woman's foot with his own, carrying it off the floor or across the floor.
La Marca
The lead. From marquar, to lead.
Media vuelta
Half turn.
Milonga
1) The music of a dance that preceeded the tango, usually in 2/4 time, quicker and more upbeat than tango. 2) A dance, where people go to dance tango and milonga.
Milonguero
An older tango dancer, one who frequented the milongas during the 1940's and 50's. May also describe a style of dancing during that period.
Mirar
To look.
Molinete
Little windmill. When the follower moves in a circle around the leader, doing a footwork resembling forward and backward ochos.
Mordida
Bite. One partner's foot is sandwiched between the other partner's feet.
Ochos
Eights. Pivoting forward or backward with the feet together during the pivot and extended during the step.
Ocho cortado
Cut eight.
Orillero
The outskirts of the city, suburban.
Orillero style
A style of dancing from the suburbs characterized by the man doing many quick, syncopated foot moves.
Parada
A stop.
Pasos
Steps.
Patada
A kick.
El pecho
The chest.
El peso
The weight.
El piso
Floor
La pista
Dance floor
Preguntar
To ask.
Una pregunta, por favor.
A question, please.
Las piernas
The legs
Quebrada
Break. The woman is standing on one foot, often hanging her weight on the man. The other foot is relaxed, often slightly raised with the toe touching the floor.
Rápido
Fast. Usually heard "mas rapido."
Resolución
Resolution. An ending to a basic pattern.
El Ritmo
The rhythm.
Las Rodillas
The knees.
Rulo
A curl.
Sacada
A displacement of the feet.
Salida
A start, or a run. The beginning of a pattern.
Salida Cruzada
The beginning of a pattern with a cross, stepping side left crossing right foot behind left or side right crossing left foot behind right.
Salón
A style of dancing for the milonga or small club, as opposed to stage tango (see Fantasia).
Seguir
To follow.
Sentada
A sitting move, the woman sits on her partner's bent leg or waist.
Sacada
A displacement, to move your partner's leg out of the way gently with your own.
Trabada
Fastened, a lock step. The step that the woman takes when the man steps outisde his partner with his right foot and then straight forward left, together right. At this point the woman crosses and this cross is referred to as trabada.
Una vez mas
One more time.
Vals
Waltz, done to tango music in waltz time.