Ballet feet vs. tango feet

Classical ballet training begins with learning the basic five foot positions created in the 1600s by French choreographer Pierre Beauchamp.   One could attend a ballet class anywhere in the world and find the same five foot positions.

First position in ballet

It’s been ages since I put on my ballet shoes.  I never had a full turnout for ballet.  The heels are together with the feet turned out.  It’s the same turnout for all five positions, and it takes years of training from an early age to develop the technique. 

Many dancers in Argentina (classical and folklorico) have made the transition into tango, performing and teaching.  Most of the women have classical training while the men have folklorico training.  The milongueros and milongueras, however, learned tango while dancing at family parties, clubes de barrio and the city confiterias

First position in ballet

Guillermina Quiroga, Lorena Ermocida, Aurora Lubiz, Alicia Monti and Gloria Dinzel started in classical ballet and ended up in tango.  The transition from dancing alone to dancing in a partner’s embrace is a big leap.  They performed in tango shows on stage where they put aside their classical training.  

There are tango teachers with ballet feet who haven’t made a complete transition to tango.  Consequently, it is common to see new adult dancers with ballet feet in tango.  They practice what they’ve learned in women’s technique classes and dance it in the milongas.  The only difference is they are dancing on their toes wearing stilettos.

First position in tango -- where the dance begins and ends

All social dancing uses the same foot positions.  Classical technique is beautiful to see in a great ballet like Swan Lake, but it has no place in tango.

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2 Responses to “Ballet feet vs. tango feet”

  1. LoveTango Says:

    Even though never danced ballet, I started dancing tango with a slight ballet feet. I noticed that my feet are often in the way of the lead, and trip them once in a while. I think the problem was caused by my foot not align with the direction of movement. Since I corrected that, no lead has been tripped by me.

  2. Lawrence So Says:

    The reason feet are slightly apart is mechanical; it provides stability during movement. The more the movement, the more stability is needed, the wider the stance. This is why the feet are apart in various dance forms (including ballet), martial arts, athletics/sports. It isn’t a style thing, it’s a balance thing.

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