Embellishment Tutorial: Circles + Drawing
Tango Embellishment Overview | Basic Tap | Circles + Drawing | Flick | Cha Cha Cha | Foot Excercises
While many embellishments are fit in between the steps that the man leads, circles and drawing on the floor are for the most part done during a pause, where you have extra time and are waiting on one foot. A few things to remember:
- You are always trying to blend the edges of your steps together, so no one can see where one step ends and the next one begins. Do not show a break between your steps and stand waiting on one leg, with the feet collected and the free leg hanging motionless. As soon as you 'collect', the free leg goes right back out again. The free leg is fluid and continues to dance to the music even while you are standing still.
- The leg you are standing on is straight, just as when you stand still in regular life, you stand on straight leg. The leg is straight but not locked. Locked means that your muscles are tensed. You do not have to bend the joint to be unlocked.
- You always have two feet on floor for balance, whether moving or standing still. Your weight is over one foot or the other, but your free foot maintains connection with the floor and can always help you with balance if you start to wobble, like a kickstand. You should never feel like you are balancing over one foot.
- Your free foot is always pointed, fully, from the ankle (unless you specifically decide to flex it, in which case it is fully flexed). You don't even have to worry so much about pointing your toes -- make sure that ankle is stretched. When pointing your foot, the top of your foot is in line with the rest of your leg. A pointed foot is always ready for an embellishment, looks pretty, and is also ready to cushion your next step. (Your ankles are your power from each step, as well as your shock absorbers into the next.)
Variations and Timing
The direction of circles generally is up and away from the center, similar to the arm motions of the breast stroke when swimming. So the circle with the right foot goes clockwise, and the circle with the left goes counter-clockwise.
You can vary the size and the speed of the circles, from very slow to very quick, or from very small (just from the knee down) to large sweeping circles with the whole leg. It all depends on what you are hearing in the music, of course.
You can can do circles, semi-circles, or taps and sharper accents if you hear an accent or something more rhythmic in the music.
Generally the leader will pause and give you space to do these sort of decorations during slower, more dramatic, or vocal-heavy music, when there isn't a lot of emphasis on the upbeat. These movements are not for vals or milonga, both of which keep moving.
Exercises for Home
-Stand in front of a mirror and practice making smooth, even, ROUND circles of varying sizes and speeds. You MUST listen to the music while doing this and fit the movement to what you are hearing.
-Practice side to side steps, blending the step and the embellishments together in a seamless fashion.
-Practice a side step with the right foot, pausing to decorate, then flowing into a back step with the left. Repeat.
Circles and semi-circles of varying speeds during side-steps.
Dancer in video: Jennifer Bratt
Shoes: Comme il Faut