TANGO.AMAnything Tango

Al costado – To the side

Al costado – To the side

Argentine Tango, a dance characterized by its passionate and intricate movements, is a dance of improvisation and connection between partners. One of the fundamental movements in this dance is “Al Costado,” which translates to “to the side.” This seemingly simple step is a cornerstone of the dance, providing a foundation upon which more complex figures are built. In this article, we will explore the significance, technique, and variations of the “Al Costado” step in Argentine Tango.

Historical Context

The history of Argentine Tango is rich with cultural influences from African, Indigenous, and European traditions. It originated in the late 19th century in the working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. As tango evolved, so did its vocabulary of steps and movements. “Al Costado” emerged as one of the essential movements that dancers use to navigate the crowded dance floors of milongas (tango dance halls) and to create space for more intricate steps.

The Technique of Al Costado

“Al Costado” is a lateral step that can be performed by either partner in the dance. It involves moving to the side while maintaining a close connection with one’s partner. This step is integral in maintaining the flow of the dance and providing opportunities for embellishments and musical interpretation.

Basic Steps

  1. Leader’s Role: The leader initiates the “Al Costado” by shifting their weight onto one foot and stepping to the side with the other. The leader must communicate this movement clearly to the follower through their torso and embrace.

  2. Follower’s Role: The follower responds to the leader’s initiation by mirroring the side step. The follower maintains a slight resistance to ensure a controlled and balanced movement.

  3. Connection: Both partners must maintain a strong connection through the embrace, using their chest and arms to communicate the movement and maintain balance.

Variations of Al Costado

The “Al Costado” step can be varied and embellished in numerous ways to add complexity and flair to the dance. Here are a few common variations:

  1. Al Costado with Sacada: In this variation, the leader steps to the side and simultaneously displaces the follower’s leg with their own. This creates a dynamic and visually striking movement.

  2. Al Costado with Barrida: Also known as a “sweep,” this variation involves the leader or follower using their foot to gently sweep the other’s foot to the side, creating a smooth, flowing motion.

  3. Al Costado with Enrosque: Here, the leader or follower can add a pivot or twist to their side step, enhancing the visual complexity and adding a layer of musicality to the movement.

  4. Al Costado with Adorno: Both leaders and followers can incorporate adornos (embellishments) such as taps, flicks, or small circles with their feet while executing the side step, adding personal expression to the dance.

Musicality and Expression

The “Al Costado” step provides dancers with the opportunity to express the music’s rhythm and phrasing. Tango music is known for its dramatic pauses, sudden accelerations, and emotional depth. By mastering “Al Costado,” dancers can interpret the music with precision, highlighting its nuances and creating a captivating visual and emotional experience on the dance floor.

Practical Applications

In a crowded milonga, the “Al Costado” step is particularly useful for navigating the dance floor. It allows couples to change direction smoothly and avoid collisions with other dancers. Additionally, it provides a moment of respite and recalibration, enabling dancers to reconnect and refocus their energy and attention.

“Al Costado” may seem like a simple lateral step, but it is a fundamental element of Argentine Tango that offers endless possibilities for variation and expression. By understanding and mastering this step, dancers can enhance their connection, musicality, and ability to navigate the dance floor. Whether performed with elegance and simplicity or embellished with complex adornments, “Al Costado” remains an essential building block in the beautiful and passionate world of Argentine Tango.

Andreas MaierA

Andreas Maier

Researcher in Love with Tango!

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