My name is Igor Polk. I am dancing and teaching Argentine Tango in San Francisco..
Index of this page:
Argentine Tango danced by Anthony Dexter and Patricia Medina in Valentino (1951).
2018 July 25
An article by Sasan Rahmatian on "The Structure of Argentine tango" is published in the Journal of Mathematics and the Arts.
2018 July 3
If you have difficulty performing what is taught in a dance class, here is my advise:
The real problem is in your body not being able to execute what is proposed. Any verbal explanations will not help it. Do not spend your time and money on private classes. Without much words, as a trainer, I'd like to tell you what can progress you forward at this point of your dancing carrier. You have to exercise more. I recommend running including up and down hills forward and backward. Not jogging, but running with maximal power and speed. Short time, that is fine, it does not have to be tiring. 2 times a week is enough. Fast and energetic walking is also good. And push-ups to develop flexible embrace. For correct posture, the hands should be on the level of solar plexus. All this can be amended with a healthy dose of other simple exercises, preferably from gymnastics, at your discretion. More than anything else, I recommend Chinese gymnastics with swords. From tango: forward ochos and women's part of Ocho Cortado. Do not wait, start now. It is a slow process. But you will be very satisfied in 6 months.
2018 June 28
2018 May 27
What are the good qualities of Tango followers?
1. First of all, you have to be a good dancer. Your body have to be well developed, you should be able to twist your body, be able to make beautiful figures with arms, feel free on the dance floor, be very musical: to feel the music and be able to express it in your body(!!!) and steps. This is the most important advice. Good dancers differ from the rest in how they move, especially body, quality of movement. Some lucky ones have it naturally, others - have to work hard on that.
2018 May 16
About the embrace during HER pivoting.
I am afraid I may discourage some of you. "doesn't prevent her from pivoting by squeezing hard" has double meaning. Under this phrase, some people understand that during pivoting she can detach from him with the result of moving her very upper torso away. This is possible, but it is not perfect. The perfect execution is this: her upper torso (above solar plexis) stays with the leader attached. Lower torso, below solar plexis move away from him (and he does the same) with delivering energy to the pivot. Pelvis stays toward him either. It is a complex, double-spiral structure. It is possible to hold her tight at the level of upper torso or pelvis (yep) and make her produce a perfect pivot (F or B). This requires great body abilities from a woman and a lot of knowledge from a man who must move his own body in a similar way. Shortly speaking, ribs go away, upper torso and pelvis stay attached ("parallel" among partners somone would say). Sorry for the long explanation, but who said that the dance can be put in words simply..
Or in other words, if HIS right arm is on the level of her ribs - it MUST be soft and flexible. If his arm is on the level of her shoulders or hips - it CAN hold tight.
2018 May 14
Last week I was at the Purdue university TRIZCON2018 innovation coference.
See you at the class!
2016 Dec 09
The book is ready !
2016 Nov 1
I have found a nice video explaining "Hip-push". It is well known in belly dancing.
I have found the "hip-push" phenomena myself during search of the origination of Syncopa rhythm in a body of a dancer.
Note on performance: It is not done by "muscles" or "excessive extending of pelvis" ! It is a pure mechanical way of bone movements in the hip-joint. You can even hear "a click" inside of your pelvis! It is heard through the bones.
Yep, it is belly dancing done with the parter! Do you like it ?
What I mean is better explained here as an "opposite hip-push":
To tighten the hips means to tightly press the legs toward each other when one stands. This tenses psoas major and other accompanying muscles (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psoas_major_muscle, see "addictor'-s). It feels like compression within pelvis and in the inside of thighs. It is easy to achieve when the legs are tight together, but the same tension has to be preserved always, during all steps. This gives stability and a pool of energy readily available. These are the major muscles which pivot a dancer all around, like in the yesterdays class, and for ladies the same. These muscles are trained ( and can be felt ) when doing squats without taking the heals from the floor (important detail ! ).
This is a simplistic advice. In fact we need 1) muscles twisting the pelvis left and right, 2) moving the tail left and right (our tail is not moving, but the muscles are there and they are very powerful, imagine a dinosaur !). These essentially includes all muscles in the pelvis-to-waist and thigh areas. The major thing is that they must work in "twisting" manner, those which twist right then left. Ochos and compact molinetes are the exercises for it. But just keeping the muscles tight like it is explained in the first paragraph gives great results. I do it when I dance. It goes for salon style too when the major source of energy is torso.
2016 May 29
What is art? Art is what affects feelings and generates ideas. Of crowd or just one person, now or in the past.
2016 March 22
Long time no posts, Facebook takes over..
Here is the video of the demo dance of the last class:
Demo videos are available on the Igor's YouTube channel.
We have made a Facebook page where these videos will be also linked to:
Thank you, and welcome to Igor's tango classes!
2016 April 22
A video explaining hip-bump and other hip related movements: twist, slide...:
2016 April 21
It is hard to say, but emotions do not define the dance, therefore they can not be its language.
It is very difficult to say about emotions.
The whole surroundings at a tango party facilitates blockage of feeling from outside disturbance as well as from inside one.
2015 July 10
At a regular group class a teacher rely on students who come regularly. She expects most students to know something what she taught before and she may lay down the background for future lessons. This is the time for some drilling exercises. Also, a teacher should create a relaxation atmosphere: people want to have fun.
2015 June 24
2015: Erin Malley and Doruk Golcu ! Milonga.
2015 March 19
"Масштаб вашей личности определяется величиной проблемы, которая способна вывести вас из себя." Фрейд.
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2015 Jan 18
When argentinean teachers talk about "intention" as a lead and leading backwards with the back they speak about "Body First" steps, dancing "walking up-hill".
2014 Dec 23
We should talk less about Rights, but more about Fairness and Freedom.
2014 Dec 23
Наивные украинцы, во всём слушаясь своего дядю сэма полагают, что за усердие их наградят эмиграцией. Так это и есть general idea - заселить украинцами канаду, а украину - немцами.
2014 Dec 20
Yeah... the book is very difficult. It is like a mathematical book. Even worse. What can I do :) the logic demanded it. Every sentence needs thinking and work. It is very compressed. One think follows from another and depend on previous material. But it is the theory. I definitely should write a simpler book, hopefully eventually I will be able to find time.
Do not hesitate to jump forward. Several chapters are easier and can be understood without much connection to previous material.
While reading, you should try everything many times until the body starts to understand it. It is not possible to progress through the book without practicing. All words are very week in description of human movements. And the goal of my book. It establishes the mathematically solid vocabulary for the complete description of human movements and dance in particular. It is difficult, hey, everything serious is difficult. Have you tried to read Euclid geometry?
By the way did you read other dance books? ( And no one ever written about technique. ). They are very difficult to read, even though the material is much simpler, just describing steps. Too many things are involved. And believe me, it was very difficult to write.
2014 Dec 13
2014 Nov 5
November 22, Saturday, PA JCC Theater.
Photo (C) Steven He
2014 November 12
My goal and NN's goal are different. His goal is to establish here a tango community of social dancers which closely resembles the way of tango life in Buenos Aires.
It is very different. For example, NN would tell that ganchos are "illegal" and wrong to do. I would say that they are a nesessary element.
I have danced with quite many argentineans including pretty famous ones. I do not think they all are examples of the very good dancing. Far from that. One thing is to look at them, another - to feel their dancing. I confidently say that here, in SF, I have met local women with the skills far exceeding the skills of many Argentinean celebrities.
And I am correct, since Tango, as all masters whom I respect say, is an improvisational dance. What does that mean. It means not dancing as everyone else. It is opposite to "dance like everyone else". The best dancers dance like no one else. Every master strives for his own style and does not want to look like someone else.
I am trying to convey the principles of building a personal style while staying within the boundaries of traditional tango and beyond.
2014 Nov 3
From a conversation: "... If this was true, then someone could have a stroke and lose their sense of rhythm. This has never happened. There are several tests for beat-deafness and nobody has been found who cannot find the beat. This is just an excuse made by people who don't know how to teach and confused students who are mistaught.
2014 Nov 2
Companies and projects come and go. Bosses come and go. A performance review is an official document, only document, which testifies about your achievements and qualities. If you do not have a review at your job you should demand them!
I had several reviews in my professional life and all of them served me greatly later. I am very thankful to my managers who took time and care to prepare them.
If you do not have a review you are at a total mercy of a your superiors in all promotion decisions. If you have a review, you have some argument which can be useful if a situation at job is changing. Demand reviews !
2014 Nov 7
Европа прощай? Россия это и есть Европа. Второй её полюс. Первый, с победой английского флота над испанским в 16 веке - Англия. Россия развивалась на восток, в Сибирь, а Англия, к её счастью, на запад, в тёплую америку. Германия, Польша и все остальные болтаются между двумя этоми полюсами. И этого никак не изменить и этим объясняется вся политика на протяжении столетий и будет объясняться.
А насчёт того, что Россия это "сущая азия", что то мне вам сказать.. Жил я в Белоруссии. Я работал лаборантом в Новополоцком Политехническом институте. Потом поступил в Минский Радотехнический Институт. Потом работал, в том числе в Минском Медицинском Институте. Так вот, все преподаватели и работники этих институтов, а если не они, то их преподаватели получили образование в России.
2014 Oct 24
IndieReader has published a review on my book. Three stars !
" The book is laid out with specific instructions on origins of the movements that a dancer must master in order to effectively dance the Argentine Tango. There are also detailed descriptions of poses and steps that when paired together can create a wonderful dance "
" Polk is able to successfully explain ... intricate steps because of the immense detail he provides "
" Polk's book [is] a huge help for instructors "
Since the book is full with grammar errors I would add one more star :) Don't you agree?
IndieReader provides INDEPENDENT anonymous reviews by the topic experts. An author has no influence on the outcome whatsoever.
2014 Oct 24
Piano Performance, Liszt, Companella, Sofya Gulyak ( Софья Гуляк )
2014 Oct 23
Visualization of rhythms: http://youtu.be/2UphAzryVpY. Check their tango presentation.
2014 Oct 8New article: Three ways to make a Forward Pivot and how it is used in Several Figures of Forward Ochos
2014 Oct 8
2014 Oct 4
A wokshop at a community dance club in San Jose:
2015 Sept 15
A workshop is coming at the DanceBoulevard:
The first workshop was absolutelly fabulous !!!
2014 Sept 09
Some fresh photos by Steven He:
2014 Sept 7
2014 Aug 28
http://youtu.be/uRZaj443zAQ - new video of our class material. I do not like they way we are dancing. but I'll keep it here for the reference of the figures.
So called "contra-body boleo" or just a contra boleo is a popular figure. In the past, around 2000 I have met it at tango nuevo lessons. Now it is taught at milonguero and salon style classes as well. Some kind them works in close embrace very nicely.
There is well felt difference between regular boleo and contra-body boleo. As a regular boleo, contra-body boleo can be both behind and in-front. As an excellent visual example, I'd like to refer to the Homer and Cristina Ladas video on boleos. Almost all boleos here are contra-body.
Here is a simple explanation how it is done on example of boleo behind when a woman is on her right leg. After a back pivot like in back ochos and when her leg is already extended preparing for a step or after a regular slow boleo when her leg is behind her, a man with his torso goes around a woman's axis to his left (it means clock-wise) provoking her to charge more and therefore producing an energetic, deep movement of the leg to her left.
The key points here are: 1) Geometry: A man "Goes around" her. Not a slightest distance away, but perfectly around; 2) Timing: He starts movement to the his left (her right), leading contra-boleo when her leg just finished the extension. 3) Response: a man while going around her is provoking her to charge her body toward him (to her right) more. However for the best result she should keep facing him with her torso actively, it means turning toward him herself. It is her body performing the figure not his. Often women do not do it and that prevents the figure from happening.
After a man went around her no more no less than needed, he leads her a regular "boleo return".
The common mistake in learning this element besides a man "not going perfectly around" is that a woman is "too hasty". If instead of nice extension of the leg, slow, juicy movement, awareness and enjoyment of her leg she just falls back this not going to work.
Now let me show you what is happening during "contra-body boleo" from the point of view of "Twisted Body" dance theory.
To practice overtwisted body, you can use this pose.
2014 Aug 19
A colleague of mine from Italy, Enrico Massetti has made wonderful jewelry for tango dancers.
2014 June 23
From one blog:
"I am strong: I know my strengths;
( yes, yes, I wrote it, but it is for someone else ).
2014 June 19
2014 June 10
Yesterday I have taught in one single beginner's class to several first-time students: pseudo-left turn, right turn, going to cross, ocho-cortado. This is my personal record.
I'll tell you more theory about it, why it came together nicely.
2014 May 30
2014 May 29
Tango steps is a complex art and science ( link ). What would be the most useful brief advice how to make a back tango step? Press a hip joint of the free leg toward the partner as a preparation to the step.
2014 May 28
To lead is to make a woman feel like she is dancing.
2014, May 20
Where is in the book the explanation how pelvis area is used in balance? See the chapter about pelvis, hips, “Origins of movements in Pelvis Region” is at the very beginning. It explains that there is twist of the pelvis itself and another one of a Tail. “The tail” concept is really powerful. The tail can be “twisted” in both directions independently of twist of the pelvis, and therefore greatly variating it applications. The “twist” there is imaginable, it is an abstract concept. Our actual tail does not move. But muscles are still there. They work. They are very strong. I like to compare our little “was a tail” with a powerful dinosaur tail. It suits tango perfectly.
Just saying “tight the bottom” works, but it is not enough. How to use it? Combinations of pelvis and the tail “twists” provide vocabulary for creating new movements. Move your tail!
Once the bottom part is tight, particularly, “twisted”, the balance is very good and the upper torso is being freed for free movements.
Torso is important for balancing too. Good use of torso, rib cage, and muscles connected there provide wonderful balanced movements. One has to feel “stretch in the lower rib cage”.
2014, May 19
Second edition of my argentine tango dance theory book is updated with
This part is not available on line.
2014 April 24
SF Bay Area ATUSA Championship contestants - "Nada" - at Palo Alto JCC, another angle: Published on May 19, 2014 Argentine Tango Salon Style Demo by SF Bay Area ATUSA Contestants @JCC Palo Alto, May 2014 Music- "Nada" by Di Sarli;
and here is the performance of 2014 Salon Tango campions Nicholas and Stephanie. Vida querida" - at Palo Alto JCC
This was the best feeling event of all our parties. Thank you everyone !
* * *
On May 17, Saturday, we are going to have an annual tango party at Palo Alto Jewish Community Center. We already had a party around the New Year, so it turned out to be a semi-annual party.
Musicians: quintet Redwood Tango Ensemble
Before the party, Igor Polk will present his tango book:
2014 May 12
The Verdi Club Milonga on Thursday will end this month . .
2014 May 08
A friend said to me: "I know what makes the new World Tango Champions. The follower executes every movement with perfection. She uses the floor better than any tango dancer I have seen to this date. She has the floor moving up her body through the top of her head with power. She is not lacking in energy in every execution. Every muscle in her body is working. Her whole attention is given to every moment. Because of this, the lead is most likely there also. But I could not keep my eyes off of her. She demanded attention."
2014 April 21
Wow ! The US tango competition was a real blast this year ! Amazing experience !
2014 April 20
Our dance ( Cecilia is in white-red dress, I am in black ). Day 1, round 4, song 1. We have made 10 turns of different kinds, forward and back ochos during the first 1.5 minutes we were recorded. Song 2.
2014 April 16
Laban notation does not take in account the technique. It is only visual. The good thing is that it is suitable for any style of dance. But at the same time it makes the record very cumbersome, overweighed, and difficult to read for a dancers.
My notation is a shorthand of my technique. It has graphical and symbolic form, and is actually very short. Graphical form is easier to understand, but symbolic is also not difficult ( and it is shorter ). More important is that the symbolic form allows to present “transition”, i.e. mechanics of dance figures. Of course, it is all related to Argentine Tango only, but I feel it can be used in other places where appropriate.
Do not pay attention to symbolic formulas, just skip it. Graphical formulas are more useful. Video will never be able to replace abbreviation, it is not abstract enough, many things are just not visible. My abbreviations show what happens inside the body, other abbreviations – only what is visible.
2014 April 15
Very mistaken are those who think that the dance must contain elements of great physical abilities. Large theatrical movement, kama-sutra poses, rabbit-fast steps is not what defines a dance. All this belong to a totally different area: manipulation of spectators to program their mind in a certian way. A dance is defined by correct body postures ( 14 of them on one leg), variety of perfect rhythms, combination of steps into figures, adaptation to a dance partner and environment, inventiveness, musicality, feeling, enjoyment of movements to music and in community. All that is available to any average people. The conclusion is that everyone can dance well !
2014 April 2
Javier Rodriguez and Virginia Pandolfi Tango and Milonga:
2014 April 2
About “breaking down preconceived idea about tango”. It goes in two directions. One is innovation. I mean innovation in usual terms, another one is going to very basis. It is my direction. It serves innovation, because it discovers very basic and therefore powerful mechanisms of generation of all available moves, figures, and dances. It goes well beyond the usual established thinking. That is what my book's most important result. And that is what you going to get studying it. Not just “new” ways, but ALL ways! This is what mathematical approach gives. Think about it. It is overwhelming?
2014 April 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDhpSB1Ao8w ( not tango: Final Fantasy Dance Battle )
2014 March 12
How to make tango friends for a woman. Valuable friends.
On the way in doing this, do not ask others for dance unless you are a master. Look approachable, but not insisting. Do not sit in a corner. Be communicative, but do not spend time talking. This averts. Watch other dancers and do so with a pleasant, approving, open face, it attracts. Dance well with whoever invites you. And go to workshops where more advanced students go, that is the way to secure friends. Good leaders observe dancing couples and choose whom to invite by observation, this is true. Well, that is only if they are looking for a new partner, have no friends in line to dance with. The most valuable is elegance, axis, ability to follow, good spirit. On your face an enjoyment of dancing must be read. This is important and attractive. The most advanced dancers will look at the feet and quality of turns. Tricks attract clowns. No adornments, god save you from this! The best time to get to new partners at the beginning and at the end of milonga, when there are less people. Also less popular events, where there are fewer people serve well as meeting grounds. Wear attractive dress. Sexy, yes, it does work. But elegant and tasteful. The cloth has to be pleasant on touch, not slippery, not rough.
The paramount is quality dancing. This ultimately defines everything.
2014 March 03
The figure A. This is a variation on 8-count basic. It introduces back ocho for a man and a woman on step 3. To the best of my mind this figure was taught be Puppy Castello and presented here, in San Francisco, by Graciela Gonzales. Stages of the figure:
2014 February 21
Computerized dance: Nobuyuki Hanabusa;
2014 January 21
Oops, 2014 already, I should start a new page...
Here are some gems. Maestros
2014 March 01
2014 Feb 27
I prosto stihi
2014 Mar 1
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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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