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Our Tango Instruction is either at the Phillips Recreation Center, 505 W Stoughton, Urbana
or at the McKinley Foundation (Church Basement), 5th & John Streets, Champaign
Lessons Workshop Courses
Instruction for Newcomers to Tango
- We offer two courses for Newcomers to Tango (Foundations of Tango A & B). You can start with either one. There is some overlap, but each course builds a different structure (foundation) of basic steps for learning tango.
- Introduction to Tango for Couples has the same syllabus as either Foundations of Tango A or B, but is a course where you work exclusiveiy with your partner. (Couples may elect to work exclusively with partner in any course.)
- We also offer Introductory Tango Lessons (1-1.5 hr) that provide a preview of each Foundations of Tango course.
- Please contact us (Tango.Society) if you have any questions about our instructional program.
Date & Time Event Description Location Cost Thursdays May 16 - June 13, 2013
7:30 - 8:30 PM Foundations of Tango
No partner or experience required
Cost: $45 /
Mondays June 3 - July 1, 2013
8:15 - 9:15 PM Intro to Tango for Couples
Partner required; work exclusively with partner
No experience required
Cost: $45 /
* - Cost of lesson may be applied towards Foundations of Tango or Intro Tango Couples course.
** - Foundations of Tango A & B have a different syllabus; you may start with either.
What is Tango?
Where can I dance tango?
Who will I meet dancing tango?
How can I learn to dance tango?
How can I prepare for tango instruction?
What is Tango?
Argentine Tango (or simply 'tango', because tango was born in Argentina) is a unique dance that has become popular throughout the world. At its basic level, it is straightforwardly simple, based on walking in unison with your partner in connection to the rhythm of tango music. However, as it develops for the individual dancer, it becomes an incredibly creative dance, where individual movements are strung together in essentially an infinite number of ways in an improvised manner, so that each tango danced is a unique experience. From the outside, to the untrained eye, it is deceptively simple. To the accomplished dancer, relatively simple movements are woven together into a tapestry of rhythm and use of space that is a satisfying playful experience.
Shown below are videos of masters of tango creating an improvised tango dance:
Unfortunately, people in the USA often are first exposed to a different kind of tango. They may see something called 'Argentine Tango' on television (for example, on 'Dancing with the Stars') that looks like what is shown in the video at the left below. This demonstration has little resemblance to the tango danced in Argentina (and the music isn't even real Argentine Tango music).
On the other hand, some people are first exposed to Argentine Tango by visiting a tango show, where one or several couples may dance is is shown in the video at the right below. This is also what one might find if looking for tango on YouTube. Show tango is a very sophisticated form of tango that is danced by professional dancers who have had years of academic training and spend dozens of hours per week practicing. (It is their livelihood.) However, with its high kicks and lifts and drops it is suited for the stage and not the social dance floor, although there are some people unaware of this distinction who may try to imitate show tango on the social dance floor.
The Tango Society of Central Illinois teaches and promotes tango as it is danced socially today in the milongas (tango dance salons) of Buenos Aires, the birthplace of tango. This is the Argentine Tango shown in the set of videos above.
Since 2001, the Tango Society of Central Illinois has offered tango courses at the Phillips Recreation Center near downtown Urbana. Since 2011 we have also been teaching tango at McKinley Foundation on the University of Illinois campus. (See Tango Instruction). We offer weekly courses (usually 4-6 weeks) that fit within the University of Illinois semester calendar. In their emphasis on musicality, partner connection, and navigation, our courses are designed to prepare students for social tango dancing. Because tango consists of natural walking movements, if it is taught as an improvised walk to music, it is relatively easy to learn. People of all ages can learn it. At the same time, the essentially infinite possibilities for improvisation make tango an exciting challenging dance for those who wish to become advanced dancers. This is the way we teach tango in Tango Society courses. After completing one of our Foundations of Tango courses, students should have acquired sufficient skills to dance comfortably at milongas. Subsequent courses improve students’ dance abilities.
We also offer introductory tango lessons (see table above), often before milongas. These lessons are designed to give students the most basic skills needed for dancing tango socially (i.e., a basic understanding of tango musicality, partner connection, and navigation). Although the repertoire provided is limited, you should be able to dance at a milonga after completing one of our introductory tango workshops.
Tango has become a popular dance throughout South and North America, Europe, and some parts of Asia. In the United States, tango social dances (milongas) are held regularly in most large cities and in many university communities. In Central Illinois the Tango Society has hosted milongas at the Phillips Recreation Center in Urbana on an approximately monthly schedule since 1999. Our milongas at the Phillips Center are set up in a cafe atmosphere, which enhances social interaction. (See milonga information.) In addition, we have hosted some milongas at the Illini Union, McKinley Foundation, and elsewhere on the campus of the University of Illinois and, during the summer, in Meadowbrook Park.
The Tango Society of Central Illinois is an active and friendly community that always welcomes newcomers. We have dancers ranging in age from 18 to 80, married and single, with and without regular dance partners. A significant number are students, faculty, and staff at the University of Illinois. We also get dancers from neighboring communities in central Illinois and western Indiana. Our tango community is ethnically and culturally diverse and includes people who have originated from many countries around the world.
Unless it is a course for Couples, you do not need a partner to take a Tango Society course. We regularly change partners during a class session. However, if you have a partner you will have numerous opportunities to dance with that partner during the class.
What you will need is a pair of shoes appropriate for dancing. Most dress shoes with a leather sole will be appropriate. Tennis shoes and other shoes with rubber soles usually have too much traction. Sandals or any shoe without support on the heel will make the dance more difficult. Clothing that limits movements of the legs (e.g., long tight skirts) or gets caught in your partner's legs (e.g., long loose skirts) also hinder learning the dance.
Last Updated: May 10, 2013
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