Tango, The structure of the dance, the key to it's secrets revealed
The book of the secrets of Tango

writer: Mauricio Castro

By Daniel Sosa
translated by Dolores Iglesias Rocha


  Mauricio Castro is a theoretical musician who studied at the prestigious school of Berkley in the United States. Some years ago he started meddling in the world of tango through his dance and teaches tango today. His theoretic forming led him to questioning on how the movements were made and to write them down, this is how "Tango, The structure of the dance, the key to it's secrets revealed" was born. A book, that according to Castro is "the handbook of a beginner dancer".


- How did the idea of this book come out?

- It came up when I started giving dance lessons. I saw somebody else dance and right then I began analyzing what I usually do to make that same movement work. For someone who is just beginning it is difficult to understand because his eye is not trained. When you see somebody dance what captivates is the “flavor” and the “tone” of it, one does not concentrate on the structure.

- It seems like you leave the esthetic aside...

- No, I divide the dance so I can make a better study of it. What the tango missed was precisely what is concerning the structure. A year and a half ago, what I found very complex was organizing the steps. Traditionally what were taught were the sequences; a beginner would learn four, an intermediate would know 50 and an advanced student around 150, this makes me think that the differences between dancers would depend on the quantity of sequences he would know. A sequence would be five or ten steps, what the tangueros usually call “figuras” (figures). Then they are added among each other. I thought it was a very complex way of organizing the dance because when one starts the initial sequence one must already have in mind at least five or six steps that one must follow. That cuts down the freedom of improvisation. That is why I tried figuring out the way to organize the steps, so that both the man and the woman, know which are the possibilities and are conscious on how to combine the steps.

- What did you think would be the usefulness of the book?

- Well...describing structures, because the language of the book is mental. It would be wrong if I were to esthetic and movements. I realized that when I tried explaining the basic steps. One can write three volumes and give them to someone else to read and that someone is not going to understand it. The beginning of my work was not this book. What I wrote first is will be coming out in volumes three and four. It so happened that I showed my first rough draft to somebody and that person told me that it was way too advanced. That is how I came up with the basis of this work.

- Was the book written in order so that the readers can learn to dance as they read?

- I ask: Can a person become an excellent dancer while only watching videos? My answer is no. The forming in any art discipline is carried out through  the use of more than one mean, it may even be multi-disciplinary. My book is a very good reference, its the exact information that one may transmit through this mean: structural instructions that can be reasoned. All I wrote in this volume has no contradiction, in any tango style, it makes sense even in the way it is danced in Finland or the United States which are both very different from how we dance it.

- When the reader begins the first chapters he realized that he needs another person to put into practice what he’s read. Can you say that it is a book for two?

- For the beginners and intermediate it is a handbook to be used that way. The advanced ones can try the steps with their imagination. The first exercises are an excuse to face a man and a woman, to make them feel comfortable.

- You mention Tango Argentino a lot. Is this a varying or is it the traditional?

- Its a specific mode for Argentina, within the same argentine tango there are different styles that trespass the boundaries of the esthetic. I particularly though that it wouldn’t be practical to divide the tango according to the esthetic, for example into tango de salón, or “canyengue”, that differ in their movements. I think that it is more useful to divide them into technical elements that the dancers use because if not there comes an almost philosophical discussion that takes place when one compares a dancer that does it “apilado”-with his body tilted backwards-, with another one called “de salón”. The technical difference is that some share more the axis than others. As regards the elegance we can discuss for hours without being able to come to an agreement.

- The structure that you talk about would be the skeleton of the dance...

- Exactly...

- I guess you had to study and go through all of the styles.

- As a matter of fact I did not look outside because I did not find in the exterior something that would work for me. I began creating to be able to organize my dance in a simple way. My previous experience as a musician taught me that to be able to improvise one needs to have many simple resources and easy to handle. That is what I looked for.

- In Tango does the man always “lead”?

- There are certain fields of tango where the woman can propose; give the dance a stop and the man is who has to wait for her.

- Why do you think that the structure of tango was not analyzed before?

- It is the natural evolution of things. This already happened in contemporary dance. First came the esthetic movements until someone decided to write about it. It happens to any popular dance, and even more so to the tango that has a high level of complexity in certain fields.

- How would you recommend your book?

- I would say that it is the easiest way to progress and to learn fast. The visual method is a basic form but very instinctive, the evolution in art goes together with the intervention of the reason. Learning instinctively can take 20 years, just like it happened to most and best dancers. One needs more memory each time to be able to hold more sequences. I think that the esthetic part is a posterior process that takes place after the first five years of study. Besides in this book one may find tools so that one can create oneself. This is how one can stop the mixtification, something that some dancers used to have before having some magical sequences that they would not pass on to anybody, by any cause. If one knows the structure, the secrets are over.

The book “Tango, The structure of the dance, the key to it’s secrets revealed” can be found on Yenny libraries and in virtual The dancer also has an Internet site where he gives details of the book and where free demonstration videos are shown.