Argentine Tango Blog 2009

My name is Igor Polk. I am dancing Argentine Tango in San Francisco. This is my personal tango site where I express exclusively my IMHO opinions for my own pleasure and pleasure of my friends. And I do not promise to be objective. If you are ready for it, proceed..

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2009 December 26

More Treena's Tango art:

( published with permission )

2009 December 20

I'd like to share with you my recent video:

Happy Hanukah, Christmas, and New Year !  


2009 December 06

"When you dance, I have seen you moving your body. It looks nice but I have heard from many tango teachers that the body should be immovable. How do you account for that? "

Look at the dancers on stage. Do they move their body? Not all the time, but they do ! Movement of the body is the characteristic of the dance, it is essential.

When I dance with various ladies, they all fall into 3 categories. First ones are those who move their body. No more to say about it, it is great ! Second ones do not move their body. The feeling is like dancing with a robot. They do not understand the subtleties of lead and rhythmical plays. To lead them I have to push them or use other tricks to make a dance. Not nice ! The third category do move their bodies, only very little, not visible. That is enough and the dance is great, but the general public can not see it.

For a woman to be able to move her body, a partner support is essential. If a man is too rough, too rigid, too forceful, too "wrong", she will tighten her body as if going to a defensive position. This man takes away her freedom and she will not move under such conditions. Scroll down to "Defensive Dancing" post to read more about it.

If I try to move my body, and a woman does not respond, I feel like hitting a wall. I am not going to do it either.

Some ladies, unfortunately, do not know that a body can move, and they are pretty happy about it. If she haven't tasted a pie, she does not know how it tastes, does she?


2009 November 24

Some sad non tango news:
More than 1% of population of Russia are infected with AIDS. 37% of 1.8 million drug addicts in Russia are infected. 30% of all prostitutes are drug through injections addicted. 6% of homosexuals are infected. In 2008 6.5% of all pregnant women coming to hospitals in Saint Petersburg were infected.

The population of Russia is 141 million now. At 1990 the population started sharply to decrease. It was 148 million then. If the rate of population increase stayed the same like before 1990 since 1960, the current population of Russia would be about 165 million.

2009 November 23

Sometimes I feel that a partner in a dance become an Angel.


2009 November 22

I had an honor to learn from Graciela Gonzalez.
Graciela Gonzalez


2009 November 13

The best teacher learns from his students.

His ladies propel him to the edge of his choreographic experience. His leaders allow him to dance new.


2009, November 11

Sent: Thursday, November 05, 2009 01:12
To: Igor Polk
Subject: ???, ??????

мне нравится читать ваш блог - я там и многое увидела (сегодня - картинки Катринки), и поняла, и сходила по куче линков и отсылок.
я люблю с вами танцевать - тоже мне новость, все любят с вами танцевать, но что делают все я не знаю, а для меня это всегда шаг до границы своих возможностей, иногда - перешагивание за них. Иногда - смущение, иногда - полет, но всегда - новое и еще чуть-чуть.
я ужасно люблю смотреть, как вы танцуете с другими - люблю пластику, свободу, фантазию, силу, нежность и то, что это не generic tango, а именно ЭТО танго.
но больше всего на свете я люблю ваши уроки - продуманность, несуетность, каскад маленьких упражнений, похожих на жемчужинки, которые потом склдываются в замечательное ожерелье. Весь урок  - это один длинный танец, с развитием, кульминацией, просто экстазом и развязкой. 
и пропала тетрадка,где можно было все это сказать простыми словами: спасибо, Игорь! "

2009, November 4

My friend, 'Katrinka', made several drawings during a tango practica. I find tango images of an artist penetrate deeper into the world, more than a photographs. Artists can express feeling, cumulative processes and poses, which is almost impossible in photography. Watching the drawing is like reading someone's mind. They convey the ideas directly, in a distilled form. Look how Katrinka, with the fresh look, was able to grasp and convey some of the most important tango concepts:

2009 November 2

Yesterday I've seen Mariano and Paula perform at Gracia. These are the most incredible tango dancers ! Everything it perfect - rhythmics, musicality, complexity of the dance - they dance fast and so reach with elements and figures. Their creativity is superb, they knowledge of tango is beyond anyone else. Their dances are true masterpieces. Without doubt they are among the very best tango dancers ever visited San Francisco. May be they are the very best !

I have heard they are good teachers too. Here is the Mayumi's schedule of their workshops in San Francisco and Bay Area. Check it out !

2009 October 19

A young Tango couple has attracted my attention. These are Mariano Bielak y Paula Gurini.
I can not refuse an opportunity to be acquainted to, learn from, and enjoy movements of this most promising of the young Tango dancers. So, we are going to have workshops with them: ( Click on the image to see the schedule )

Paula Gurini y Mariano Bielak in Palo Alto


2009, October 19

"I have watched you. Everyone is dancing just tango, but you are dancing THIS tango !"

2009 October 12

Many people ask me "Do I need to have a partner to learn tango?". You do not need a partner to learn tango. Once a good dancer, you will have a lot of them. Whom you need is a good teacher.

2009 October 12

Do you want to be smarter? Dance Tango ! One more evidence from Nature Neuroscience. Motor training actually increases amount of gray matter in the brain and white matter of connecting neurons ! "..The first evidence for training-related changes in white-matter structure in the healthy human adult brain". The research was made on juggling, but I am sure juggling with legs making boleos, sacadas, and leg wraps should not be less effective. Besides it is much more pleasant. The results where obtained after only 6 weeks of training ! Imagine, just 6-12 lessons of tango, and you've got smarter without reading newspapers and watching TV !


2009 October 9

I have looked through the old mail and have found a letter from Richard (Ricardo) Newton dated 2007-11-02. I'd like to share with you some of it:

About Tango walk:

"I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Julio and Corina.  Although it was my first, I learned that some of the attendees have been their students for many years.  At one point in the workshop Julio stopped class.  He appeared to be frustrated by having to take time to repeatedly correct some students.  He said he had been coming to our community for eight years and had hoped to be able to teach something more, but that once again we would have to return back to basics before we could move forward.  We returned to the walk.

How often do we hear our Argentine instructors speak of walking their tango walk around the room upon arising in the morning and before retiring in the evening?  The body appears to require a constant level of maintenance to keep its edge.  One does not find the popular belt colors in Argentine Tango as found in martial arts, which test progress and encourage students to regularly practice and attend classes."

About a 'black belt' ( knowing the basics 'intimately' ):

"At 18, my martial arts instructor informed me that I was ready to prepare for my first black belt exam.  He also told me that I would be required to put in more training hours per week and that  it would also require more of his time to work with me.  Therefore, he wanted to know if I was ready to make this commitment.  Obviously, I felt honored and was ready.  He then asked me what the black belt meant to me.  I suspect I gave him some sort of answer any kid my age would.  He proceeded to explain that the black belt was not a finality, but a beginning.  It represented mastery of basic technique, those tools necessary to begin the real exploration of martial arts.  Similarly, the tango walk, cross, ochos, and the like are the tools of tango.  Only by knowing these techniques intimately are we able to learn and freely explore the depths of real tango. "Freedom to a dancer means discipline. That is what technique is for -- liberation." - Martha Graham "

I can only add that knowing the basics 'intimately' means knowing all tango. Basics are difficult. Everything else is very easy, once the basics are mastered.

About the Advanced Tango:

"I had a conversation a couple of years ago with a milonguero named, Ricardo Vidort (he had passed away last year).  He said he appreciated those people worldwide whose interest in tango has helped resurrect tango.  He asked us if we knew how many tangos there were; we estimated some 20 thousand.  He said there were more than 10 times that number, lost through time, fire and destruction.  He then told a story of a club, which existed in his day, only attended by the best and by invitation only.  He and a friend, both considered quite “good” in the surrounding barrios, were invited to the club but only allowed to watch, not to dance.  He said that he and his friend were very excited and looked forward to the evening, as perhaps it may well be their initiation into the circle of the best.  The tango they saw at that club was of such a high level, it humbled them.  What he saw there, he said, he had never seen anything like it before, nor had he since; nor would we possibly see tango at that level ever.  He said he and his friend were not invited back.

Perhaps it was just a story, perhaps not?  Perhaps it was a challenge to our resurrection of tango, to bring tango to the level it once was, and perhaps beyond?  Perhaps it is the loss of many of the great tangos, which our ears will never hear, or those greatest of tango dancers of that era, which our eyes will never witness?  Perhaps, we need to understand that tango is a gift, an art form that can only be preserved and advanced by each instructor, dancer, and student giving it their best. "


2009 October 7

Our Zina Tango Club moved to new locations:

Palo Alto JCC Group Exercise room K134 ( Building A ! ):
Palo Alto JCC Exercize Room

Monday's Samovar dance room:
Samovar, Palo Alto

They are fabulous !

Yesterday I have conducted the very first dance workouts:

8:10 - 9:10 - "Energy & Movement", $10. Developing free body movements, obtaining energy, developing rhythmic abilities and abilities to express music through the body. Based on Tango movements. High energy workout. If you want to dance well, this place is for you ! Highly recommended for beginners as well as for more advanced dancers.
9:15 - 10:15 - "Dance Meditation and Stress Relief ", $10. Find the way to meditate through the dance. Effectively relieve stress, developing deep internal connection to yourself, the universe, and other people. Not only Tango!

Look what people say:

"Igor, I thought that tonight's "meditation" was exquisite. Just the kind of thing I'm looking for. I think that it encourages innovation and that it also promotes ease of body movement. Both of these qualities are needed on the milonga dance floor. Nothing is worse than dancing with a stiff, repetitive partner, except for maybe dancing with a partner who wants to "drive" a woman around the dance floor like she's an old toyota truck or some other jalopy..."

"замеча... и восхити..." [ splending and enrapturing ]

I understand that there is a lot of innovation we are going to bring into dancing culture, and I invite you to be a part of it !


2009, October 5

Elizabeth McGee

Oh, this woman knew how to dance tango !!! She was one of my partner-teachers. I promise, Elizabeth, I will do my best to convey to the world what you have taught me !
Elizabeth McGee 


2009 September 24

Yair recorded a new video. Here Igor Polk and Julia present authentic Salon Tango Argentino:


2009 September 23

"Treasure hunting"

When one is boldly and aimlessly sails across hectic waters in search of golden ( or rotten ) coins falling from bypassing galleons, it is called "Treasure hunting". Some prefer this kind of adventure instead of steady building of a wealth-producing factory. Systematic approach seems too slow for them. So they hope that a lonely diamond fallen off the torn bag of a traveling salesman will make a change for them. What is an alternative to treasure hunting? Construction of a diamond producing machinery.

2009 September 23

"One can not learn high math, if he does not know what function is".

2009 September 20

An excellent article, sorry, in Russian, " Как выжить одинокой тангере на чужой милонге " ( "Survival guide for a lonely milonguera at an unfamiliar milonga"). I am signing under every line, really useful advice for students who are starting to come to milongas. I will try to make a translation.


2009 September 16

Defensive Dancing

There is a kind of dancing style many women and men dance in. I call it "defensive dancing". It is different for men and women.

A woman dancing defensively is very tight. Overtight. She expects an over-lead at any moment. She is afraid of not-musical movements coming from a poor leader which contradict tango rhythm and feel. She is afraid to relax and enjoy the movement and the moment since she expects to be pushed and pulled at any millisecond. She is used to pivots and boleos which a man does going around her, pushing her with his shoulders. She is afraid to inject any energy in her dance on the ground that her overconfident partner would say "You are not following me". She is afraid to move her body and her legs. Essentially, she is not dancing. She is in the defensive position of martial arts.

Thanks to overall very low level of men's dancing, there are a lot of women like this. Many teachers take it as granted and teach exclusively defensive style of dancing. After all they want us to start dancing with anyone as soon as possible, aren't they?

Obtaining defensive dancing qualities shows a high level of a woman-dancer. It is difficult to obtain. Getting to learn that, she is able to feel herself more secure with those who do not know tango well and those who are abusive. Obviously one might think it is a benefit, but once one gets there, it is a trap. It is a REAL TRAP ! It is a trap which prevents a woman for a truly free incredible dance. There are 100 more things she can do, if she would not defend herself from the possibilities. But she is not used to do it. She is used to hide within her armor from it. This is not tango. Tango like meditation opens a human being to the world, not hides from it.

A man's defensive dancing has quite different nature but the same consequences. I have feeling that the man's defensive dancing shows up only on very high level of dancing. What he defends from and how? He defends from overall inability of a woman to follow. To follow rhythm, energy, direction, everything. Of inability of her to express right technique. As dancer with good reputation, he is forced to dance with any woman so that she feels well, and actually, he might get into the mood of enjoying and obtaining meditation mood himself, but it is still defensive dancing since he is not free. He is strongly bound to the deficiencies of his partner. It seems that he leads, but in the essence he follows. He follows all the time in everything exactly like a defensive woman follows an abusive man. Not fun !!!

So, how does he "lead" in this situation? His body is very strong. His steps are very confident. His movements are technically perfect. He is not dancing himself - he is also moving that body which hangs on him, and wobbles randomly! He uses subtle pushing, pulling, and stopping technique TO MAKE the woman move so that it resembles the tango dance, and in such a way she feels good about it. In addition to strength, precision, experience, and special technique of moving heavy objects with his body core and the legs, he is following her in every single wrong move she does. With his experience, he assess her abilities and leads her only to the figures she knows something about and is able to move not throughing him out of balance and out of the line of dance.

Here we come. We come to "Defensive Figures". In my view taken as is most popular tango figures are defensive. They allow an experienced man to "perform" them on an inexperienced woman. Figures which require mastery and dancing abilities are not included in the list of popular tango figures most teachers teach. I do not know how this situation developed, that is a topic for the further research.

About the whole notion of "Following". There is a great misunderstanding that "following" means doing anything a man would have in mind his partner to do. Absolutely wrong ! "Defensive Following" serves this role. But the real "Following" is Dancing. The woman feels herself free and encouraged to dance wonderfully in accordance to tango rhythm and structure. A man's "Leading" is not making the woman to dance with his "Defensive Leading" or abusive leading, but creating for his woman opportunities to express herself and create the best dance she can. If a man does not know how to dance tango, he can not expect an experienced tango dancer to follow him.

The same goes for ladies. Do not get stuck there "expecting" my lead ! I move - you move. I am not there to move you - I dance. Tango has certain rules. Each dancer should know these rules and dance to them. Then the dance-together is the real tango dance.

The most negative thing about defensive dancing is that it cages people, blocks their creativity. That is why I often prefer to dance with talented beginners who are musical and moving nice than with well-taught tight defenders. When two defenders meet, a woman dancing defensively and a man who is used to defense, they are not able to recognize true dancing talent in each other because of their bad habits. They miss a rare opportunity to create a great dance, to recognize each other true talent. Only later, if they are able to overcome the weight of defensiveness and become so active, that through their movement and reaction they easily cope and play with most dreadful partners, if they meet, in certain settings, they are able to make an unforgettable dance.


2009 September 9

There are several understandings of what a lead is. What in this situation would be the best advice for men whishing to be the best awaited partner? Here it is:

Listen to a woman !  She will tell you in her movements the way she wants to be lead.


2009 September 7

Some people that some Argentineans say that "it is possible to be learning tango, but it is not possible to have learn tango".

Of course, there are no limits for knowledge, but let us look at the roman digit system. This "system" was cumbersome and difficult to make calculations with. Only people in the rank of "university professors" were able to make multiplication, so it was complicated. Then arabic system of digits came, simple and mathematically clear. New algorithms and algebra were invented so that even children were able easily to do what the cream of mathematicians were hardly able to cope with in the past.


2009 August 31

You know what is the most difficult thing in Tango? Getting rid of bad habits ! They are like anchors, once served their questionable purpose hold you from the movement ahead. Such bad habits like bringing feet together in cross, leading with push, leading with weight change, looking at a partner's chest, loose embrace, "collecting feet" just because "they have to be together", "pivoting" partner with arms and shoulders to make a pivot or a boleo, keeping the body stiff...

It takes uncalculatable effort to get rid of those heavy weights tired to your mind and body once you realize that they are nothing but bad habits. Years ! Many years ! It is much easier and faster to learn how to dance tango from scratch than to get rid of one of those bad habits once they are in your body.

Be aware !


2009 August 24

It is a community of dancers in here. There is an invisible link between each pair of members. An established dancer has these sort of dancers to have the next dance with:

  • Partners;
  • Students;
  • Friends;
  • Interesting dancers, dancers to exchange experience with;
  • Way more experienced dancers, dancers to learn from;
  • Lovers;
  • Unknown yet;
  • So so;
  • Persons to avoid.


2009 August 19

Here is a video of the birthday dance with my students. First part of the dance Joy is dancing with Julia, then I dance with her:

2009 August 17

I am more in teaching now. I dance and teach about 20-24 hours a week. Not much time to fill up this blog. I do have what to say. I really do have incredible a lot what to say about tango, but I say it at my classes these days. Welcome:


2009 July 22

Tango Nuevo: "technique, musicality, improvisation skills and concepts such as: Single and Shared Axis Colgadas, Forward, Back, and Split Volcadas, Organic Wraps (ganchos, enganches, piernasos (piernazos), Linear and Butterfly Boleos, Arrastres, and Tomadas."

2009 July 18

Not tango: ( video )


2009 July 17

Who is following more in a couple? A man or a woman?

The more experienced dancer.

In certain circles there is a notion that a woman follows, but still, a man "takes care about her", he "does not lead what she does not know" and all that. Nice ! So, who follows whom? This is a dangerous approach. Guess what happens to a lady who assumes that what a man wants is to "take care of her"? She will end up with men who are not able to do anything better than what she is able to do.

But that only relates to women who haven't mastered the dance yet.

A woman who mastered the dance, dances herself. This is a great art to learn. No one can do it without going along the path of tango learning, despite some talents starring here and there on occasion, this is the voice of my experience. So, she dances. And a masterful man leads her to dance and enjoys it with her. No matter if her vocabulary is not large, or she does not follow perfectly. As soon as she dances - it is irrelevant.

That is because the notion of Leading is different on the high level of dancing than all beginners think. It is not "leading" per se. If a woman does not dance, she can not be lead.


2009 July 17

"This is a very personal and suggestive dance that lies on rhythm, unlike the music based on melody"; "Another singular feature is that, when the tango is danced, while the legs draw figures on the floor, the torso sets a different movement.".. Here is an english translation ( on the right ) of a song "This is the way to tango" performed by Castillo. Ah, this is driving me ... tango.

2009 July 16

The people who created tango 150-100 years ago where extremely advanced. Their dancing and their figures are beyond any imagination including their own. They could not describe what they do so incredibly intoxicating and dizzy it was.

Then came people who wanted to dance the same. And people appeared who would willingly teach them.


Teaching should start with something simple. So, oversimplified approaches, elements, techniques, and figures appeared to help people get on the floor as quickly as possible. There are a lot of them. The most common example is stepping to cross bringing feet together.

Most people who had learned that did not become those incredible tango dancers of the past. Anyway, they could not with such knowledge. But they remember well: "cross is when feet are together". Now they teach their students: "Cross is when feet are together, that is a must in Tango".

Do you follow my logic?

Yes, when Masters, Time and tradition is gone, the dance may loose its essence subduing to popular demands. I hope it is only temporary, I hope true grandness of tango will prevail over mediocracy, I hope we will move to new heights and over with restoration of the true approach, not oversimplified ones. Learn most advanced tango ! True Tango !


2009 July 10

Vernon and Irene Castle. This image is taken in about 1910-1918.

Tango Posture

2009 July 9

Talking about teachers.

Here are couple of graphical illustrations to the difference between bad teacher, good teacher and self-learning:

progress with a teacher

Roads to Tango

Discuss it


2009 July 8

Dancers are aware of "plateau", periods when there is no seemingly improvement in dancing. It can last for some time and then suddenly there is a change.

One idea why it is happening is because of the two things which are trained: physical abilities and technical ones. Physical abilities are strength, speed, sensitivity, adaptation, flexibility and pliability, dexterity, and other. These are quantitative properties. Technical abilities are body knowledge of execution of certain elements of a dance. These are qualitative properties. Physical abilities allow use of energy, rise of energy, technical ones - control and minimization of energy. Physical abilities depend on amassment of certain things. These are the "mass" and "size" abilities, technical ones - on ability to do certain things. These are structural abilities.

When a man starts dancing, he always starts with ample physical abilities of one kind and may be with none physical abilities of other kind and of none technical ones. His road is accumulation of knowledge and replenishment of deficient physical abilities. Sooner or later he gets enough of it to start dancing. Usually it means "a plateau". But not all physical abilities are required for dancing, very far from that. So once plateau is achieved, he has exhausted all his physical abilities required for dancing on the technical level he was able to achieve ( and acquired the minimal of physical ones which are new to him).

Then the more subtle process is starting. Technical abilities acquired open the gates for the development of new physical abilities. More precise ones, 1000 times more precise, suitable for the dancing. It takes time to develop physical abilities. And a lot of effort. But here comes a surprise: until the new physical abilities are developed - new technical abilities can not be learned. New technical abilities require certain basis level otherwise they not just can not be learned, but they are unawared off ! And so on.

The simplified diagram of this process is like this:
Basic, wide physical abilities -> simplest technical abilities -> ( simple dancing - plateau) -> new precise physical abilities -> new greater technical abilities -> ( next level of dancing - plateau ) -> ...

Two things can come out of this reasoning. First is that as soon as plateau is achieved, this is time to facilitate the development of new physical abilities. Physical abilities develop when things are pushed to the limits. Otherwise they stay the same. Step larger, faster, twist more, sense better, dance more elaborate, move more precise, richer, adapt quicker, go to the edge of the balance, and so on.

Second conclusion is that the progress in dancing depends, hugely depends, absolutely depends on better technique. If a technique is wrong, not correct, not creative, the physical abilities can not be developed further, and it puts stop on the progress.



2009 July 5

People not involved in tango are not able to understand what tango is. They do not know such thing, they have not even experienced anything like that before, especially if they never went to church. They keep saying that they liked what they see, and they like movement and exercises..

Imagine a door, a plain door to the video renting shop. People come closer to check what is there. There is something appearing from behind the glass but very indistinct: shelves with something like a bunch of books on them.. Boring ! If they do not know what video is they will turn away and never come back. They have no idea that behind those doors there is a whole new universe filled with colors, adrenaline pumping adventures and incredible plots.

It is easy with video: roll a TV set outside and play movies through it and people will pour in. With Tango it is impossible: images are inside. Inside the bodies.

When new people come to Milonga they see that something is going on, they are kind of surprised, but still they do not see a movie on the screen. As if they came to a movie theatre and see a hall packed with people, who laugh or cry, eat popcorn, jump in the chair with their attention attracted to one and the same thing. The new comers see what is outside but for some magical reason they do not see a movie on the screen - they are not able to do it until they themselves implant the tango knowledge and step out on that floor.


2009 June 25

Michael Jackson Dead

a wonderful dancer and choreographer...

Two weeks ago a certain Phillips said on preparation of Michael Jackson for the show at London's O2 Arena, his first shows in 12 years: "Michael's in incredible physical shape, he's got tremendous stamina, he's been working out aerobically preparing for this, and he is totally engaged. He sounds like Michael Jackson. He is laser-focused on making this the greatest entertainment event that fans have ever seen."

There is no doubt now that Michael Jackson is the most popular man on Earth. His art with his songs, "clips" or rather short video shows, images carry huge amount of positive energy and influence so needed in these days filled with virtual realities. He is the man who proclaimed and propagated GOOD no matter how his image might be perceived and aberrated. He left as he lived. Michael Jackson, the King...

Few artists suffered more than him for the art. If any. An artist with extreme artistic power and influence, he called for equality, kindness, social fairness, peace, care about nature, anti-militarizm and anti-totalitarizm. He had to suffer in this world and he did.

2009 June 22

Isadora Duncan (1878-1927), our local San Francisco celebrity once said: "The dancing is the Dionysian ecstasy which carries all the way." It is impossible to mix dancing with thinking.

Peter Lieven said about Isadora: "She is the first to bring out in her dancing the meaning of the music; she was the first to dance the music and not dance to the music."

Sir Frederick Ashton: "She was a little heavy by in that time in her career, but it didn't matter... Anyone of any age could duplicate what she did but not how she did it. When she raised her arms, it was an incredible experience. She could also stand still - and often did - but it was an alive stillness and it was dancing."

* * *
"Orchestra", a word we know from theatre means "dancing place" in Greek. Theatre in Greece begun when people assembled at "Orchestra", near an altar, and danced Dionysian actions. Everyone participated.

2009 June 17

A little about history of tango in Europe: Утомленное солнце.To ostatnia niedziela. Sorry, in Russian.

A tango-to, sovremennoe.

2009 June 5

Why Students Stop Dancing: A Theory.


2009 May 2

Here is a classification of dancers:

A Beginner. He does not know anything. He possibly attended several classes but still does not have an urge to learn tango. He is just curious.

A Student. He became interested what is going on: "wow" has visited him. So he attends classes.

A Very Promising Student, a Practitioner. He's got it ! He was able to hold at least one dance in his life and got carried away with its heavenly greatness ! Now he is attending classes, practicing with others, trying to make sure the dance feeling is with him at every dance. In his dancing he is constantly trying to improve himself, open new possibilities, deepen the knowledge of the dance and surrounding partners.

A Dead Rotten Wood and A Tango Clown. He's got it too. He does not attend classes, he does not improve dancing. He ( or as the case often may be, she ) goes to milongas, grabs a partner and makes an impression of dancing. He does not change for years ! He is awful. He exists only while there is pray: pray of beginners and students who do not know much about the dance and dancing people around. Tango Clowns differ that they are special - they are very visible. A major problem with these guys is that they do not accept that they are rotten wood or a clown. They think they are great dancers. Otherwise they would be.

A Puppetmaster. It is a man's role. There are some dancers who acquired a mastery in one of the aspects of tango. Specifically - overleading. They luck many important qualities to dance truly well, so they prefer to show their skill on beginners. Often ( but not always ) woman in their hands really looks like a puppet ! And a puppet she is. Sometimes they realize it, sometimes not - they have got an impression of being a good dancer. Puppetmastering has its own school: puppetmasters often teach women they dance with. Do they teach them tango? No. They teach them how to be a puppet ! Unfortunately, there are more puppetmasters than one think of at first.

A Dancer. It always means a good dancer. He may be not an extraordinary one, but he knows the rhythm, he respects the partner and moves together with him. It is a pleasure to dance with him. He respects the line of dance. He accumulated enough vocabulary to feel free in any situation. He wears nice cloth. A good dancer allows to make no more than 1-2 dancing mistakes in the whole evening.

A Superdancer. A beginner can be a superdancer too ! A superdancer may often be not good. He is moody. He may not know much. But sometimes he shows an extraordinary talent, especially with dancers who can support and encourage his great dancing.

A Master. A Master can make every dance well, with everyone. He or she knows the dance and is able to impose his knowledge on the partner. He never makes mistakes. He is very successful in fixing mistakes of his partner so that dancing continues to be good. All his dances are very good, innovative, and interesting. He is totally fluent with tango rhythms, vocabulary, navigation, and music. He is equally able to dance with Canaro and Pugliese. He can dance fast and slow, romantic and energizing. He opens talents of superdancers. He is great and his partners know it.

A Grand Master. There is no reason to come to a performance if a dancer is not a Grand Master. What does that mean in tango? The Grand Master dances with figures. Each of this figure is unique no matter how many dances and how many performances the Grand Master has. Is it difficult for the Grand Master? Absolutely not ! The Grand Master is immersed in the art of Improvisation and utilizes innumerable tango ways to alter his dance. All his dances, at every milonga, at every practica are different. This is his way of life and the way of Tango.

An Angel. A learned natural talent of an outstanding beauty. An exemplary dancer. A dancer from whom Masters learn !

Discuss it


2009 April 26

TangoNero Tango band astounds the dancing public at Cocomo ! Read the article about Tangonero:

Tangonero Tango Band

2009 April 21

Facundo Posadas is dancing tango with Christy Cote at Metronome. Video. En exemplary salon dance !


Facundo starts his dance like a dancer in Buenos Aires: moving around the floor nicely and tightly. Then he goes to figures still progressively moving around the floor. Perfect, rich, sweet, and masterful dance full of tango moves.

Discuss it

2009 April 20

The sign of maturity of a tango community is a constant and lively flow of dancers in the line of dance ( LOD ). Numerous tangueros tell in their stories what it was in Buenos Aires: dancers moving all the time with quite high speed along the line of dance in such a way to be able to make 2-3 rounds per song even at the very large ballrooms, salons. The line of the dance was located tightly at the edge of the floor and dancers never moved inside from it. Often second and even third line of dancers were formed, and they were as lively as the first. In the center there were only immature dancers, and those who would like to practice "fantasy" figures.

They told me that the dancers were very instrumental in order to deal with violators. Of course, it all is the man's fault. If a couple stuck in the LOD, other dancers surround them and literally squeezed them inside the floor. The place from which it was practically impossible to return to the LOD.

Movement in the LOD allows the wonderful sense of freedom while having about the same number of dancers on the dance floor. There is no sense of suffocation like currently is present at some San Francisco milongas.

Last time I have experienced the most horrifying picture for every good tango dancer: at Metronome at the end of the dance the people spread around the floor like squares on the chess board taking their "slots". There was so much room to dance moving, and no one did. Except for one brave dancer who boldly left the line of dance and to his enjoyment and freedom danced outside of it, thank there were no people around. Great ! Dancing outside of the floor is better and easier than on the floor. Paradox !

I was told, there was one tool to influence good, respectable, mature dancing in such situation. It is "forming a bus". A group of 2-3 good dancers start moving tightly and progressively around the floor effectively influencing those who stuck to the center of the floor. These people dance chaotically, and regularly leave the LOD stepping to the center. So taking their place in LOD is easy. Since there are several of good dancers involved, they do not let those to come back to LOD propelling them even farther to the center. Those who understand will join.

The rule of respecting people first of all and most of all requires those who do not move to free the space for those who do. And those who do, are able and should take care of it.

The dance floor stagnation is quite a recent phenomena. It appeared about 1-2 years ago. I have observed myself and even participated in a wonderful 2-line LOD in Portland. Not any more, I am told. I do not remember any stops at the Golden Gate tango club, it was always fast and spirit-rising movement there. I was always free to dance at Verdi club. I have observed a very nice LOD at the Beat nights. This dance-floor-stagnation plaque affects even Buenos Aires I was told. Something facilitates it. What?

Discuss it

2009 April 18

Verdi club is back !

Thursday April 30th
Milonga from 8:30pm-1pm
Doors open 8pm

Hosted by Christy Cote
& Adolfo Caszarry
with DJ Emilio Flores

Verdi Club
2424 Mariposa Street
San Francisco, CA  94110

2009 April 17

Sun is 109 times wider than Earth. It is located from us about 11000 diameters of Earth. The Moon is about 3.6 times narrower than Earth. It is located from us about 30 diameters of Earth. So, what is so strange about it?

It is very strange ! How come that all these numbers are such that very often during sun eclipses Moon covering it has about the same visual diameter like Sun?

2009 April 16

Tango dance knowledge is disseminated around like sand, gravel, boulders, and jewels. My teachers gave me what I recognized as nice beautiful jewels. We do not often recognize their value immediately.

I remember to the last detail the lesson Christy Cote gave for the deep apilado. It was 8 year ago ! Before I have started to dance.

I remember how Hector Petrovich has shown me a step which helped better understanding of 8-count basic. Later it became a root from which I have understood tango structure.

I remember how Ruben has shown us one posture, only one posture, and said something about it.. And it became the cornerstone of understanding tango body mechanics.

It turned out there were not just jewels. There were diamonds !

I carefully collected these diamonds, sifting them from sand and gravel, sometimes checking their value with experts. Some of the diamonds I have found myself.

And you should know, Californians, where sparse scattered jewel stones lead. To a vein !


2009 April 15

System properties. There are many of them, but here is one which is closely related to good dancing:

If the parts are great, there is always unexpected greatness in the whole.

There is more in it, if one knows that "the whole" is hierarchical: several smallest parts create one small figure, several small figures create middle size figure, several middle size figures create a large sequence, several sequences create the whole dance.

Essentially it means that the details are everything !


2009 April 14

"I like dancing with him", said a beginner. Yes, he is dancing wonderfully ! Excellent movements, great musicality, carefullness about a partner, but .. But !
One thing is TO DANCE. May be using the whole vocabulary of Ballroom dancing. And there is another, very different thing - to dance TANGO.

2009 April 13

Women learn tango much faster than men. Every one who tried to lead knows how difficult it is: a leader must navigate around the floor, perform figures, care about the lady leading her and following her inadequate responses, and most importantly he must dance ( ! ) himself despite all these "responsibilities".

So, is it enough for ladies drop learning as soon as they feel more or less comfortable at the dance floor and just go to Milongas to dance? No. NO !


In our times when men learn together with women, it is quite clear that the average level of men dancers is way below the average level of women dancers.

All the men at Milongas are of 3 categories. Say, 10 out of 11 are not very good dancers. And 1 is very good. Look, it takes roughly 10 men to dance and suffer with in order to get a chance to dance with that unique 1 good dancer, the only one who can give you a true pleasure of dancing. If you miss, and you will not show your talent, or he will not recognize you as an interesting dancer, you will wait your turn again dancing with all those 10 mediocre men. At best ! But much more likely you will wait your turn for YEARS !!! Every good dancer has a long long list of ladies to dance with, and you just have been dropped from another list of his potential newcomers.

And more.. Much more! Good dancers do talk among themselves. Like:
- How is she?
- She is good.
- Ok, I'll invite her next time to check her out..
Getting a dance and showing yourself from the best side accelerates your "promotion" rocketing you to the circle of the good dancers. And failure to do so "demotes" very efficiently either. When the answer was:
- Ah, she does not listen to me.
- Can not move her feet.
- She does not know what a boleo is.
- She pulls me all the time.
After this your only choice is to pick up your belongings and go away to another milonga until those good dancers forget about you.

So, ladies, in this cruel time you should really strive for perfection until you dare to go to the dance floor.

And your continuous education is your help. You've got that chance to dance with the best dancer just because he is giving you that chance to check if you progress, if you are promising, if you are worth his efforts to dance with him, if something really great comes out of this partnership in future. If he encounters you again, and dances with you, and feels your improvement - oh! That is a green light working in your direction! So, as ancient said - a goal is nothing, movement is everything. True.

So, your goal should not be just waiting for a chance to dance with the best dancer.

Well, let us consider other men. These 10 men are different. 5 of them are sincerely trying to get better. They go to classes, they practice, they are trying to be good dancers with you. You feel their progress from milonga to milonga, and you help them to develop by dancing well with them. Be their friend ! Some of them are talented and will grow faster than you might expect. And then when they grow and become 1 of 11 they will dance with you because they feel you have been their friend. Yes, they will ! At least for the time they feel you are progressing either :)

5 others show no progress whatsoever. They are horrible, and they have no intention to improve. They act as negative magnets - if you dance with them, you loose your chances to dance with a good dancer ( 1 of 11 ). Because he thinks if you dance with those, you can not appreciate talent, you are bad, not worth invitation.

So, if you know a man who is cruel, who is pushing and pulling you, who does not listen to you, who does not listen to music and rhythm, who is not interesting, who runs around the floor like a rabbit, who is trying to twist you into figures no matter what, who is bumping to other dancers, who does not move along the line of dance, who does not keep you on the edge of the floor, who plainly does not know tango, and he is consistent in that and have no intention to improve make yourself a big favor - do not dance with him. If he is your friend - you can try to find a way to express that you want him to improve - invite him to good classes, ask him to be your partner at a private class, or just boldly and gently point him at his mistakes, if you can find the right words.

The only purpose in dancing is to dance with a good dancer and have pleasure, and that what your tango life should be about.

* * *
You should not take seriously what I wrote up there.. "Good dancers" do not really talk among themselves. Very rare. They are busy dancing. They look at each other ! And they see everything about their partners. If she is smiling, if she is enjoying the dance, if he is happy dancing with her, that says all, all at once. The only working test how good a dancer is is a Mona Lisa's smile on the face and a laugh after an especially great figure. Happiness and joy are the ultimate results of the ultimate dancing.

Discuss it

2009 April 9

Daniel TrennerDaniel Trenner, one of the most important men in tango revival, historian, videographer, dancer, and teacher gave a class and a lecture today. Daniel specifically pointed out at the crisis of the floor craft these days. People do not move along the line of dance any more ! That creates the horrible sense of crowdness. While if there were a movement along the line of dance, it would not feel at all - dancers would be free in their movements. He mentioned that one of the causes of that is general inability to make turns - giros in tango terminology.

As Daniel said, in the past, dancers at the Buenos Aires milongas moved along with such a speed that a novice dancer was not able to enter the dance floor ! And that was good. I myself had experienced the same at Portland and some San Francisco milongas. Not any more.

Daniel appealed to more experienced dancers and teachers to show an example of moving nicely along the line of dance so that we can have that inspirational lively rotation which makes us all feel free.

Daniel Trenner was at the source of tango the way we know it. He was one of the few westerners discovered and learning tango 24 years ago. He has created a huge collection of videos of old and new tango masters which served as the source of inspiration and knowledge for modern generation of tango dancers, nuevo and milonguero alike. His work on tango promotion is unsurpassed. Daniel Trenner is giving workshops in San Francisco now.

Discuss it


My tango friend Christine from Denver:


2009 April 3

The essence of my school of Tango is that a WOMAN MUST KNOW HOW TO DANCE TANGO. That is she who is dancing tango. I am strongly against the idea that any woman can be brought into dance just taking her there by a much more experienced men which usually push and pull her around ( even though I can do it myself wonderfully ).

Equally, I am very much against the trend which makes a woman just a subject, well trained subject of a poor man's leading as it looks like is happening everywhere around. Adopting how to dance with those who do not know how to dance, is this the fate you are looking for, ladies ?

A woman must know ( Know, not guess ! ) how to dance ( Dance, not be lead ! ) tango ( Tango, not something else ! ).

And dance it with her man. Dancing it with her man who is dancing ( Dancing, not just stepping or stumbling or pushing ! ) tango ( Tango, not something else ! ) knowing ( not learning using your as a tool ! ) how to do it.

There is no leading, no following in the conventional sense. There is DANCING TOGETHER.

The next principal of my school of Tango is that there is no difference between open and close embrace. IT IS THE SAME !
Well, except apilado with lean. Otherwise it is just the same. Something is easier to do in open, something in close, but all the most important things are the same.

Another principle is that there is no difference in dancing with small steps and with large steps. IT IS THE SAME ! It is the same to dance on a social dance floor or on stage. There is no special "social tango" or "show tango". Everything is exactly the same, except scale.

As it was said in the "Tango Bar" movie: "There is only one way to dance tango: RIGHT ". There is no Nuevo, no Milonguero, and no Salon. There is only one way to dance tango - right. And that is the final principle of my school.

Discuss it


2009 April 1

Tango is called "A walking dance" not because anyone who can walk dances tango, but because one has "to walk like in tango" in order to dance it.


2009 March 27

Today a new Tango Orchestra - Tangonero band presented its dancing program at Allegro. This is a great group ! Playing wonderful danceable tango with mastery and charm. I congratulate Alex Roitman and other musicians on great work they did !

Perfect, visible tango rhythm, variations, quality playing, beautiful creative passages create good feel of real tango and at the same time the young group already has its recognizable personality. Not overcomplicated. Slow or fast: you should listen to their milongas ! Huge repertoire. Shortly - perfect band for a tango party. I am looking forward for the next event !

Next performances:

Sunday April 26 Cafe Cocomo 8:30

Sunday April 5


853 Valencia St (@ 20th), SF

Friday April 10

Tango Magdalena

580 Grand Ave, Suite #305, Oakland

Monday April 13

Milonga La Cumparsita

The Slovenian Hall
2101 Mariposa St (@ Vermont), SF


2009 March 24

"Utomlennoe Solnce".. I think Polish people can be proud that Russians call this tango a russian one. And indeed it is - written, recorded in Russia, sung in russian and performed by many russian musicians. And most importantly, beloved by Russians. It became a symbol of the whole russian historical epoch. May be it was written by a Pole, but it became Russian.

( by the way, I have heard that Petersburski was in Buenos Aires, even performed there ).

2009 March 24

Guido Bronfman of Hojarasco presents his tango music.

2009 March 17

From the internet:

"Daniel Trenner used to say (more or less) "When you're learning tango
technique, practice BIG - because it's a lot easier to scale down BIG
training than it is to scale up small training." "

2009 March 14

I'd like to share with you this photo of the siberian town Mirny and the Mir diamond quarry. It is like tango. Little 9-storey buildings and lights on the surface, and an incredible depth beneath.

2009 March 7

Verdi club is closed. :(


2009 February 27

Many people are looking for secrets in tango, miracles - how to swallow a pill and tango like a pro.

There are no miracles in tango. There is the way in it, and it leads through hidden treasures which may be called "Tango Secrets". But there are no miracles.

The way to tango is long but it is well paved. It leads from a station to station, which can be called tango secrets by those who blindfoldedly wonder in the woods. But for those who follow the road they are not secrets. They are milestones.

There is luck in tango. One is lucky to meet someone who clearly shows this road and lead the way. Avoiding dead ends. Wondering around in search of miracles one might stumble over the tango road pavement. And here, yes, it would be a miracle to recognize it and go in the right direction.

Those who are not looking for miracles but for the road are more lucky.

2009 February 17

"Shall we dance" - the best movie about dancing. Look for Japanese movie of 1996 or 1997 !!! It is a wonderful wonderful movie ! Here is the youtube "Shall We Dance" clip. Sometimes it is called "Shall we danSU". But on my DVD it is called "Shall we dance" ( this is an Amazon link ). Get it ! This is good dance, for good people. Family movie. Very funny comedy. Here another wonderful clip from the same grand "Shall We Dance" movie.

Vote for it ! Take these links. Put them on your websites.

2009 February 11

Йа щас упаду пацтол !!!!!!!
Here are Gloria and Eduardo dancing in the old russian New Year movie "This merry planet"(1973).

I remember the movie premiere very well. I was a boy.. I was very moved by a "flying saucer", and of course missed this tango completely.

Here another humorous student dance. Funny words are in this song. Here is russian Milonga performed by musicians and dancers from Denver. Yes!

2009 February 11

Is there anything more useful than Tango? Tango gives you the second youth !

2009 February 9

"It is well recognized that women are more choosy about sexual partners. Natural selection has armed women with dance to improve their powers of choice. Natural selection has also equipped men with a useful fear of this weapon. That’s why men won’t dance."

Read the whole interesting article.

Of course, it is also an opportunity to show off their abilities of natural dancers and fighters.

The article is concluded with: "Since there are other ways to win a woman than [dancing], for most men, it is best to avoid comparing oneself with rival mates on the dance floor. Women do not rate dance ability above all else. It is but one of many factors. They also like intelligence, kindness, a handsome face, and of course a fat wallet. "

Dance is not only a mean to evaluate fighting skills. It is also testing the working skills. Coordination, reaction, smartness, rhythmics, leadership which are all very important for high productivity abilities, physical or intellectual. And in the past when people lived simpler lives that was the number one! Nowadays, I guess, it is less important. Or not? Good thing is that dancing better than anything else can help develop these seemingly natural abilities. Dancing does develop intelligence, kindness, and even handsome face. Not to speak of confidence and good proud posture. I've seen it a lot in my classes.


2009 February 4

I like to show the lead clear and grand !  So is the lady. She'd like to accept the lead moving clear and grand.

2009 February 3

Here is an interview with Pablo Veron, one of the prominent figures of modern tango about Tango Nuevo.
Here are videos of Vanina Bilous y Roberto Herrera he was talking about:
Mala Junta;
some elements incorporated into an interview ( note apilado example ).
These videos are a tango encyclopedia.

Here are some highlights of Pablo Veron's interview I find valuable:

"I hope that the dance of the past will be studied more to rescue dynamics that are sort of hidden, to revisit them and from there to take off with a good base."

Tango "is the most complex, deep and paradigmatic partner dance that exists".

"To dance thinking is the least advisable way, it restricts to the maximum every creative impulse. Dance is emotion, senses, instinct."


2009 February 2

Tango is a walking dance. It does not mean that anyone walking can dance tango. It means that one has to practice a lot to walk like in tango.

2009 February 1

Sorry, in Russian. My English is not good enough to translate. A dancer said:
"Это удивительный танец ! Он заводной, он забойный !"

2009 January 21

On January 24, in Vienna, there will be a Russian Ball. The second most expensive ball in Austria. Even though there is no tango in the dancing program, the soloists of Mariinski Ballet will perform Tango on music of Piazzolla specially choreographed for the ball by Alexey Miroshnichenko.

2009 January 20

- Alicia Pons is coming to Bay Area soon. Accompanied by Robert Hauk.


2009 January 17

We are under the flood of codes currying many symbols. Good or bad, phones, TV, internet, newspapers, letters, job relations, even simple things like shopping through on us overwhelming amount of information to deal with. Mostly useless and often annoying.

Tango give us the rest: there are no codes to process, only feelings for a dancing couple.

2009 January 16

Just an interesting fact: Buenos Aires has a well developed metro system with the very first station opened in 1913 !
"The Buenos Aires Metro has been historically characterized by the presence of murals and other artistic works in its stations, constituting a true museum throughout its entire system"

2009 January 13

Mariella Franganillo and Junior Cervila - Coming this March 21: Mariella Franganillo and Junior Cervila are going to dance in the concert of tango pianist Pablo Ziegler in Hearbst Theatre. Pablo Ziegler is one of the most known tango pianists and composers in the world - he played for Astor Piazzolla ! Now he has his own quartet. Mariella Franganillo is one of the best professional tango dancers. She is partnering with Jorge Torres in the videos I have included in my best tango links. Here is the complete information: "Tango Meets Jazz ­ Pablo Zigler Quartet, Stefon Harris, and Mariella Franganillo, March 21, Herbst Theatre, San Francisco"




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My name is Igor Polk. I dance tango in San Francisco.
Argentina Tango, Argentin Tango, Argentinian Tango, Tango Argentino

Copyright©2009 Igor Polk
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