How To Take Notes on Tango Turns

Lots of students find it hard to remember movements from one week to the next. Or, perhaps even from one day to the next.

You are not abnormal if you find it a little hard to remember Tango movements. Until the human brain has been fully rewired for Tango, we will all probably need various helping devices.  

Capturing movements from class in your little videographic device can be somehow soul-satisfying, and yet, our suspicion is that lots of that video goes a bit underutilized.

Instead, the very act of writing down the structure of something forces us to fully, deeply, and truly engage with the matter and make a more forceful effort to understand it better.

Which means, you'll be more likely to retain it later. Also, you'll be more likely to be able to resuscitate it next week, or at the practica, or in class by following your written-down recipe! 

It may even reveal to you what parts are still fuzzy to you, even though the move seemed to be working okay. So you know more specifically what to ask your teacher or partner to help illuminate.

Fabienne Bongard has this nifty little system for writing down Tango turning steps. Basically, it is a structured way for describing what is happening in a turn! You can even use this method to decode Tango instructional videos, or YouTube videos or whatnot!

Fabienne's Way Of Taking Notes on Tango Turns

1. Give it a title! E.g., "The Milonguero Turn

2. Describe the most salient characteristics. E.g., "Starts in cross system, ends in parallel, goes to handward side."

3. Capture the skeleton of the figure by writing down the shifts of weight in four columns!

Follower's Move Follower's Foot Used Leader's Foot Used Leader's Move
Back cross (Quick) Left foot Left foot (Slow) Forward and around
Side (Quick) Right foot - Pivot
Forward cross tight (Slow) Left foot Right foot (Slow) Side or together


What is nice about this is, as Fabienne says, "I put the feet columns right next to one another so as to see immediately and double check the system." Personally, I also like the fact that the follower comes first. Because, as we all know, in everything, the follower goes first. :)



Mitra Martin

Mitra Martin is Program Director at the Oxygen Tango where her focus is developing an interconnected community learning experience, and facilitating conversation around excellence in Tango as a portal to personal and social transformation.