Authors'Introduction and Overview

Beginning Tango Vals (Tango Waltz) with
Kelly Ray & Lesley Mitchell (Philadelphia, Pa.)

The practice of dancing Tango steps to the fast waltzes that were composed alongside Tango in Argentina in the 1930s through 1950s is a relatively recent development in Argentine Tango. The result is a fast, smooth dance that joins the seductive and rhythmic melodies of waltz to the complexities of Tango.

Tango Vals utilizes almost the same vocabulary as Tango, the biggest difference perhaps being that in response to the music the dancers tend to choose more turning steps, and also choose not to pause as they frequently do in Tango.

So, how do we take Tango, a 4/4 time dance and fit it to 3/4 time waltz music? Most of the waltz music used this way is fast enough so that stepping on all 3 beats of every measure would be exhausting. One popular and relaxed solution is to step only once per waltz measure, on the accented beat 1 of 3;

Step on 1, no step on 2 or 3, step on 1, no step on 2 or 3, etc.
Syncopated step patterns in Tango and Tango Vals: In Argentine Tango it is very common to move more quickly than the normal cadence simply by double timing, or stepping twice per 2 beats of music instead of the more basic once per 2 beats. This practice is widely referred to by dancers as syncopating. Syncopating steps is also popular in Tango Vals. It is accomplished by stepping on one or another of the two unaccented beats in the measure in conjunction with the first beat, for example on 1 and 3, or on 1 and 2. The next step in either of these situations would be on 1 of the next measure, so that the pattern of steps over two measures of 3 beats each becomes:
Step on 1, no step on 2, step on 3, step on 1, no step on 2 or 3. We'll refer to this rhythm pattern as 1, 3, 1
Step on 1, step on 2, no step on 3, step on 1, no step on 2 or 3, which we'll refer to as 1, 2, 1

You'll see many instances of these various rhythm patterns in the figures, and you may note that the step on the unaccented beat (2 or 3) is often a shorter step in length, landing next to or just beyond the previous step.

Although some dancers never syncopate, stepping on only beat 1 of the measure, the reverse is not true. No one syncopates every measure in Vals. The syncopations are occasional individual expressions of the music and are always combined with some slow steps.

A faster, more challenging, and less common rhythm pattern is a run of four steps over two measures: 1, 2, 3, 1, holding counts 2 & 3 of the second measure. We will not use this pattern in the beginning level figures.

So, let us proceed to the first figure.

Return to Table of Contents