Steps for Tango v. Vals v. Milonga

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Peaches, Jan 13, 2007.

  1. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    OK. Stupid question. Could someone please describe the differences in steps for tango, v. vals, v. milonga?

    I ask because of a comment made in another thread. Personally, I've never noticed that much of a difference between the steps that are used. Yes, there are some steps that are used more in one dance relative to the others. Yes, there are some steps that just won't work. But a separate category of steps for milonga, or vals? I haven't quite found that.

    Admittedly, maybe I haven't been paying that much attention. I tend to pay more attention to the music if I've got a good lead. If I don't have a good lead, I generally find that the vocabulary of steps isn't that broad. Or, maybe I'm just too much of a beginner to have been shown distinct differences. Or, maybe it's a factor of needing to find a better teacher.

    But could someone please describe the differences, or give me some examples of steps that are milonga steps, or vals steps? Thank you!
  2. Tanguera

    Tanguera New Member

    No difference about the steps, just about the style :)
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    See, that was my understanding as well.

    You've got one complete body of steps in AT. Within that universe, there are subsets of steps that are more or less suited to the different dances. Overlap is common. (In my mind, it ends up looking something like a venn diagram.)

    What has me questioning is AATanguera's post from another thread (the fun for beginners thread), where she talks about each dance being a separate animal with separate steps. That's got me confused.
  4. Tanguera

    Tanguera New Member

    I didn't read that thread yet, but AT, vals and milonga are not "separate animals"... and as you don't use each step you know into each tango music (since they simply wouldn't fit), you just don't dance all the steps into the three dances :)


    You could say that's only a matter of "musicality".
  5. Twirly

    Twirly New Member

    I'll be interested to hear more about this too. I don't see it as different dances or dances using different steps, but as you say more of a style thing and using some steps and not others. It's true that dancing milonga or vals with someone who just "dances tango to milonga/vals" is boring.

    Maybe using traspié and other ways of playing with the rhythm in milonga could be seen as something separate, I'm not sure? In the end it's all leading and following pivots, steps in three directions and weight changes, and using the music.

    Anyway, what do the rest of you think?
  6. FTL

    FTL New Member

    I had the same impression when I started milonga but not anymore. Steps in milonga and vals are generally more compact, otherwise, it is essentially the same as tango. True, some steps are used more often in milonga and vals.
  7. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Fundamentally, the steps are the same. The difference would be in the delivery and the application of the appropriate step combinations. You basically use the same body of work.

    Here's how I do it, IMHO:

    1. Tango: Intense and heavy, dramatic & expressive
    2. Vals: More flowing, tango combinations danced to Vals time (use step combinations that work)
    3. Milonga: Shorter quicker tango steps and simplified in order to keep up with the more light hearted music
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I glad you all jumped in on this.
    It seems like milonga gets a bad rap. It is faster music, and lots of folks want to step between the beats between the two accented beats per bar. (I'm weak in the music education side, so please correct me if I've got the 2/4 time thing wrong. Leading crosses is one way of tryiing to get that extra step in there.
    But you don't have to run around constantly doing traspie. The dance can be plenty varied when you just step on the two main beats. If it is a slower milonga, I put in more traspie.
    Last week at the "my" country western place, one of the instructors taught the "one step". There for several months I was dancing milonga to the really fast two steps. I would do traspie to walk into and out of the "crossed system", bit rarely aked my partner to do it.
    Same deal as in milonga.
    Another reason people may find it "a different dance" is that specific combinations of steps are often taught for milonga. And those patterns then seem to be milonga, not tango, and you have another dance to learn.
    I did not agree with AATanguera's post, but didn't want to get into a discussion about it.
    I'm not sure she would think what I do is "milonga", since her definition seems restrictive. But I dance to milonga, and I usually have a hell of a good time doing it.
    At a certain point in our tango education, hopefully we get to the point where we realize that it is our tango. And as long as we can find someone to dance it with us, and don't run into, step on, or kick other couples, it's as valid as anyone else's tango.
  9. Twirly

    Twirly New Member

    Good point.

    I was just thinking though, didn't milonga come before tango? Is that original milonga the same as we are dancing today? Then shouldn't it really be seen as a separate dance? Hmm. I can feel myself getting into all sorts of thoughts now about what makes a dance a dance and not just a "style". Kind of like what makes a language a language and not a dialect?
  10. fun

    fun New Member

    Hi there!
    I do agree with all of you - especially Ampster who added that there is a tendency to dance different moves to different rhythms :)

    However, I personally have even given up, a long time ago, thinking that there are only 3 rhythms :Tango Tango, Tango Milonga, Tango Vals. The reality is simply that we can find elements of those 3 sometimes in one single song! - especially when dancing to post D'arienzo music and even more so to tangofusions like Piazolla or electronic tangos not to speak of all the alterantive/non tangos we neotango dancers dance to :)

    In many tangos there are moments when not only "Tango Tango steps" but also a few "milonga-ish" steps fit well - or some "valse-ish" fluid/round moves make sense. Open your "eyes" try it out and forget for a moment to worry about what your teachers said or what anyone else is expecting.. and try it out - experiment - stick to what seems to work and avoid what doesn't - talk to each other - especially your partner but also other fellow dancers about their experiences when experimenting with new music .. ;)

    Instead of trying to squeeze the song you hear into one of those 3 categories I find it more meaningful to teach our students to learn to interprete slow moments, fast moments, fade outs, accentuation, strong beats, no beats/just melody - with suitable moves i.e. ways of doing tango moves. If you have tools to do that you simply ...well, dance -irrespective of the category of music you are dancing to.

    We have just recently finished a set of 3 weeks of teaching musicality covering many of these themes. See www.funkytango.com for our actual themes should you be interested.

    Using the 3 traditional categories of Tango might help some beginners but is not necessary for a tango dancer who has already the ability to interpret any music by simply adapting and chosing the best moves at that moment.

    In all other dances you have to decide what "dance" it is i.e. matches best - if you can dance Argentine Tango well you simply dance and tune into the music - any music/rhythm or melody - this is why some consider Argentine Tango the King of all of partner dances ;)

    Happy dancing,

    Klaus
  11. FTL

    FTL New Member

    Does anyone dance candombe? The music sounds like salsa and the steps are similar to tango. I don't dance it and have only seen it once. I might be wrong.
  12. Twirly

    Twirly New Member

    I think people usually dance milonga to candombe. A lot of them probably think "oh, milonga" even though it's actually a candombe (I know I usually do!). Again, different feel and style but the same dance???
  13. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Ah, yes, candombe. I know of it, and have looked up the history (but don't remember much of it), but don't know enough to be able to identify it.

    And then, let's not forget cayengue!
  14. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I wholeheartedly agree with you.

    So long as everyone's having a good time, and no one is getting hurt, it's all good in my book. Just keep dancing and enjoy the ride. It's dance...it's connection...it's expression...who can say what is right or wrong? There's no wrong way to enjoy art.

    But this reminds me of another AT debate I've seen come up (OK, so I've started it once or twice :p ), the question of, "What makes AT, AT?"
  15. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Because it might help focus the thread/question, here is the quote that caught my attention from the other thread. THIS is what's got me confuzzled..

    "Although the fundamentals of tango and many tango steps are used in milonga and vals, these are distinctly different dances, and quite frankly, it just ain’t milonga or vals if you merely do tango steps to a milonga or vals. You can simply march your way through a milonga or do tango steps to milonga, but that’s just boring, and it ain’t milonga. The repertoire of distinctly milonga steps is so vast that the best milonga dancers never have to resort to using tango steps." [AATanguera]​

    ???

    Maybe I should see if I can find a "milonga specialist"... Then again, maybe not. If I was to add yet another teacher to the "payrolls" I think DH would kill me! ;-)
  16. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Well my take on Milonga is:

    1. The Rhythm is very different not just faster so some tango steps are simply not possible and given the speed of the dance the staps are inevitably shorter. This leads to a playful game of contra/cortina/cut steps to see what you are your partner can acheive.
    2. There is lot more upper body exaggeration and occasional dips or 'the chicken wing' movement of the arms.
    3. It is best danced with small repetitive sequences; this allows the lead a bit more thinking time.
    4. Some steps like the cross and volcada come across but again they have to be kept in rhythm
  17. Me

    Me New Member

    Everybody has a different answer! But, here's mine.

    Milonga, Vals, and Tango are all a part of the 'tango family' but they are different dances. They are danced to different beats and have different dynamics. It is like saying Foxtrot and Waltz are part of the 'ballroom family' but they are different dances. They are danced to different beats and have different dynamics. They have many cross over elements but each element is danced to a different rhythm and is executed with a different dynamic.

    As far as how to 'dance' each one, well...
    1. Tango is… well, I hate to use the word ‘duh’, but most of us know tango. Generally tango has more foot to floor contact until you start exploring specific styles. Tango (depending on style) allows for more carpa than the other dances.
    2. Milonga has a more of a springing action from the ankles, for lack of a better word. (Not hopping or bouncing.) This sort of lightness is difficult (for me) because you have to be mindful of your center and not bob around. The woman acts as a metronome and follows the dance, while the man engages in more intricate footwork that the woman does not generally attempt to mirror or follow.
    3. Vals has more of a placing the foot on the floor sensation - i.e. when you cross you lift your foot rather than caress the floor as you would in tango. It is, simply, faster than tango, and you just don’t have the time for all of that floor contact. Generally vals has more chain steps.
  18. tangoafficionado

    tangoafficionado New Member

    The main difference between the steps for tango, milonga and vals, are the timing, and concequently, the length of the steps. Personally, I would not say that there are steps that are "exclusive" to either of the dances, however, some steps maybe easier to execute to a tango rhythm, for example, than to a milonga rhythm... and vice versa.

    Again, some steps you may use more often while dancing a milonga, and some while dancing tango or vals. The tempo of the music will help you define that a little more clearer.

    Tango and vals allow you to do wider and more elaborate steps (if that is the style that you are dancing). While the milonga gives you a chance do to more quicker, syncopated movements.

    So, much of that will depend on how YOU night feel the music, and what you and YOUR PARTNER are comfortable dancing. But, you can often use the same steps in all three dances.
  19. Genesius Redux

    Genesius Redux New Member

    There's a very good book I found by Robert Farris Thompson, called "Tango: The Art History of Love." It's got a bunch of chapters devoted to milonga and canyengue. Probably everyone here already knows about it--but it does talk about some of those differences between dances and traditions. I'm a musician, so I can hear musical differences long before I can figure out the differences in dance styles--and since we have precious little AT in Nashville, I'm kinda stuck with books and videos, and whatever I can pick up from my teacher. Anyway, Thompson's book is available, and I found it to be pretty good reading, for an academic book.
  20. beginners_luck

    beginners_luck New Member

    I think that the only difference is in terms of style. You can use any tango step in vals, milonga and tango, but some steps work much better than others in each. Tango is standard for me, where I can do anything without restrictions, while vals is longer and more circular--I like using sacada/barrida combos and ochos more than anything. Milonga is playtime, where I try to never step in the same direction twice, and make my dancing three dimensional, in that I disobey the old maxim of 'don't ever bounce' and lead down and up for different steps. I like crosses and walking variations in milonga since they seem to work best with the music's linear nature.

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