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What to look for in Lysacek’s tango

Ballroom dancer Katrina Burch sat down with Figure Skaters Online to explain the basics of the tango, which is the dance that Olympic Champion Evan Lysacek and partner Anna Trebunskaya will be performing on tonight’s episode of Dancing with the Stars. Team Evanna is slated to perform second among the couples, who will perform either the tango or the rumba.

To vote for Lysacek throughout the season, call 1-800-868-3406 or visit (Canadian viewers can only vote online.) AT&T customers can also text “Vote” to 3406. Voting opens as soon as the show starts.

Tango, known also as “Baille Con Carte” or “The Dance with a Stop”, is one of the older Standard/Smooth dances. It most likely originated in Spain or Morocco. It was brought to South America by Spanish settlers and there was infused with black, native populations and Creole influences.  As I will explain later on in the season, Tango also gets some of its history from Flamenco dancing. However, unlike Flamenco, Tango was originally danced in lower classes of Argentina by two men. Women were never allowed to dance this dance in early Argentinean history. The position that you seen in International Smooth tango came directly from his. The men’s heads were turned away from each other to avoid the smell that the gauchos had coming off long days on the Pampas. Women were finally incorporated into the dance when the dance was brought back to Europe in the early 1900s. There it became part of the Standard/Smooth dances.

There are roughly five styles of Tango. Argentine, French, International (Smooth), American, and then one that is still danced in the lower class sections of Argentina. Each of the styles is its own, but there are many similar movements for all styles. For Dancing With the Stars, you are probably going to see a mixture of International style and American style, depending on the professional. The main difference between the two is that in International style, the couple stays in a closed frame, while in American, they separate more often.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Good frame: Lysacek’s shoulders should be level, and not move, while his back should be straight
  • A strong lead: Lysacek should be strong and masculine (I know it sounds archaic but it’s the origins of the dance) but he should not look like he’s pushing Trebunskaya all over the place
  • Ganchos: This is a move where it seems that either partner’s leg hooks around the other partners
  • Ochos: Usually done by the follow, this move is a figure eight movement usually done to the side of the lead

For what to look for in the rumba, please click here.


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