Posted by: wagrobanite | 04/11/2010

What to Look For: Tango and Rumba

I’m starting a new series called “What to look for”. I know I have missed the first three weeks 😦 However I will look at the Tango and Rumba as those are the two dances being showcased on tomorrow’s show.

First up the tango:

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. Look below for the difference.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Good frame. Evan’s shoulders should be level and not move. His back should be straight
  • A “Strong” lead. Evan 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 Anna all over the place
  • Ganchos. This is a move where it seems that either partner’s leg hooks around the other partners
  • Ochos. Usually this move is done by the follow but can also be done by the lead. It’s a figure eight movement usually done to the side of the lead


For this video, start watching from 1:50. This is the Bronze Level (Lowest level in American Dancesport) Tango at the Ohio State Ball which is one of the largest Dancsport competitions in the country. They are dancing American Smooth Tango

This is International Standard Tango. As you can see there is a marked difference

Jennie Garth and Derek Hough on DWTS. This dance was amazing and underscored in my opinion

Apolo Ono and Julianne Hough… I hated the music for this tango but the technique was amazing.


As with the Tango, there are two different styles of Rumba. There are American Rhythm and International Latin.

The rumba originated in Cuba with influences by Blacks and Creoles. Its movements, like it’s Cuban cousins, Salsa, and Mambo are part of the dance son, which is Cuban music that started in the1930s. Another cousin of the rumba (and closer than Salsa and Mambo) is the Bolero. Modern Rumba came about by French exports in the late 1950s. This site has an excellent history on the rumba and it’s unique place in Cuban dances.

The basic of the Rumba in American Rhythm is “Slow-Quick-Quick-Slow” and this is what is now as the Rumba Box. Look for it as the basic step in Dancing With the stars. In rumba, the hips of both the men and the women should be “rolling” but not over done. They should be smooth and not jerking. The character of rumba is symbolized by this statement: “The rumba is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire”


The 2009 Professional International Latin Rumba at Blackpool (which, for those who don’t know is like the Word Championships in Dancesport). This final is amazing to watch!

Tony Dovolani and Elena Grineko – 2007 American Rhythm Champions of the America’s Ballroom Challenge. This is such an amazing dance. Tony and Elena just sizzle

Apolo and Julianne

Natalie Coughlin and Alec Mazo. Definitely think they were underscored and booted too early



  1. Super article with correct descriptions, the best rumba i have ever seen was from the latin dance champions Brian Watson and Carmen, in the Tokyo all stars dance festival 2008.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: