The teaching of Argentine Tango usually follows a curriculum that is sequential: Tango 1, Tango 2, Tango 3, etc, where each class series is prerequisite for the next. As the student progresses, at a certain point she completes her tango foundation. After this, the subject matter branches out into topics classes of one sort or another such as Rhythm of Vals, or Milonga Traspie, or an element class such as Boleos or Barridas, or whatever.
What constitutes the Tango Foundation?
One's Tango Foundation serves one basic purpose: to be able to dance well while executing a variety of vocabulary to traditional music, with a comfortable embrace on a relatively crowded dance floor. If you can do that, then as to your foundation, you have arrived. Said another way, the goal is that you can happily, comfortably, expressively, and competently dance tango with other competent dancers in a traditional tango environment.
Breaking this down further, a tango student’s foundation includes the following, done competently as a lead or follow:
A comfortable embrace
An elegant walk in both parallel and crossed feet
Can move to the cross from many positions
Can dance in place
Can execute simple turns
Can execute front and back ochos
Can execute simple boleos
Can change rhythm from single-time to double-time
Can slow the dance down slower than single-time
Can respond to the phrasing and melody of the music
The vocabulary of Argentine tango is extensive. And the challenge in executing more and more exotic types of movement is enjoyable. But the traditional dance, especially on a crowded floor is far less than the full vocabulary of movement possibilities.
On the crowded dance floor of a Milonga, for the heartfelt dancer, the challenge and meaning of the dance changes. The point of tango is to find a way of expressing feelings and emotion within the redemptive embrace. Tango music and dance expresses sadness and loss, longing and affection. Feelings are transformed through the act of making something beautiful with another person.