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One of the defining moments during my competitive years was when I heard an amateur competitor complain to their teacher that they found their syllabus routine “boring” and wanted to move up to a new level. The teacher said that basics are not boring; that they are only danced boring.

That interchange gave me a fresh perspective on the basic figures. Since then I’ve enjoyed watching basics to see how they can be danced in ways that make them look anything but basic.

In fact, the basic figures are the foundation of all ballroom dancing. They are where we develop the technique that grounds us in the character of the dance, musicality, a deep understanding of the balance of the partnership, and the framework that makes lead and follow work beautifully and efficiently.

Recently I came across a video of WDSF World Professional Champions Mirko Gozzoli and Edita Daniute dancing a Tango performance for a group of students. The video actually dates back some three years, but it’s worth checking out. It looks like it represents a demo that takes place after a workshop. They are dancing basic steps, but the routine looks anything but basic. The entire routine consists of figures that we teach in our Intermediate class, taken from the Bronze, Silver and Gold syllabus with very little variation from the technique as it is written in the manual. Not only is it a beautiful presentation of musical expression, there is exceptional fluidity through the legs and feet, as well as superb lead/follow technique. Take a look.

The figures include:

  • Walks
  • Fallaway Reverse Slip Pivot
  • Viennese Cross
  • Back Corte
  • Open Reverse Turn
  • Contra Check
  • Natural Promenade Turn
  • Rock on LF
  • Back Corte
  • Walks to Brush Tap
  • Reverse Outside Swivel to tap
  • Fallaway Promenade
  • Chasse to Whisk
  • Tango Basic
  • Fallaway Reverse Slip Pivot
  • Back Corte
  • Tango Walks to Five Step
  • Closed Promenade
  • Fallaway to Spanish Drag

Another great example of basic Tango danced to an exceptionally high level is this competition in which top couples have to dance basic syllabus figures. There is not even a Contra Check in sight, yet the dancing is outstanding. I would challenge any Silver-level competitive couple to perform their Tango with this kind of quality. Boring? Not on your life!

George Pytlik

Author George Pytlik

Before turning pro, George achieved impressive results as an amateur competitor, holding the Senior (30+) Latin championship in BC, Canada for 7 consecutive years with his wife Wendy. The couple twice achieved a top-3 Canadian ranking in Senior Latin as well as a 3rd place Canadian ranking in 30+ Ten Dance. Today, George and Wendy are professional teachers with a vision of growing a strong dance community in Delta near Vancouver, BC.

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