by Igor Polk, June 5, 2016 - May 19, 2014
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There are few natural rhythms easily perceived in our body: heart beat, breathing, and walking or running. When a man walks or runs normally, he makes 8 steps per one breathing cycle; 4 steps per inhale and 4 steps per exhale. Running up-hill, a man breathes faster, this can make 3 steps per inhale or exhale. This is an origin of dance and music rhythms: one inhale or exhale phase is one measure. Two measures is one breath cycle, together they count for one phrase. For example, slow Argentine Tango has 4 beats per measure, Vas (Waltz) has 3 beats per measure. Heartbeat also finds its place in Argentine Tango dance.
In one of the styles of tango, perceived nowadays as an older style, a dancer does make 4 steps per measure, if a measure is one inhale. It is as in normal walk. In slower salon style, a dancer normally makes 2 steps per measure. Twice as slow. It contributes to the idea that slow tango is in fact a dance of changing poses rather than a walking dance.
One conclusion is that movements of our body are done in a certain optimal rhythm and tempo. This is defined by our anatomy and mechanics and serves for energy efficiency. Energy efficient movements make the dance light and, at the same time, may generate maximum energy if needed. A man may adjust his mechanical parameters by, for example, tightening his muscles more or less, extending the free leg more or less, moving the center more or less, bending the knees more or less, but it can be done only to certain extent. Changing tempo twice as slow or as fast can not be adjusted to. It requires changing structure of a figure to stay energetically efficient.
Side Step Left From Cunita move is the best when one cycle is done in one measure. I will show what happens dancing it twice as slow or twice as fast later.
Here, I want to point your attention that both, inhaling and exhaling phases have structure. One inhale or exhale lasts for 3 steps, while during the fourth step there is a rest. It perfectly matches the main rule of Argentine tango rhythm: forth beat is a rest, pause. It is also a place of a snappy element like Gancho or Boleo. Dancing with the rest makes a dance out of continuous sequence of steps. "El baile con corte"!