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A Step by Step Instruction
| || || | Dance like you’re indicted! Will this be the new catchphrase on “Dancing with the Stars"? It may be if the DWTS tango by Tom DeLay, the indicted former Republican House majority leader, turns out to be as popular as his flamboyant, rump-bumping romp through the cha-cha-cha. That flashy, high-heeled debut on DWTS left no question that, at 62, the alleged money launderer can still shake his money maker. In fact, DeLay likes a shakedown so much he’ll even do it in rhinestones! Under orders from Dancing’s darling Cheryl Burke (she’s won twice) DeLay’s learned to relinquish his alpha male persona and find (he said) his feminine side—a move that might serve him well should he share a cell in prison. DeLay even learned to follow Burke’s lead—though he wasn’t so keen with a woman on top when rehearsals started. At least that’s what Burke told a Politics Daily reporter after a dress rehearsal.
Dancing’s 2009 premiere featured a shimmery DeLay shaking his thing to the cha-cha-cha, choreographed by Burke, and set to the 1960s hit “Wild Thing.” DeLay’s ostentatious gyrations during his Dancing debut had judges dropping their jaws. Their assessment of the exiled politician: a man with “natural grace,” … “very light on his feet” and “crazier than Sarah Palin.” All of which DeLay takes as compliments, according to columnist Maureen Dowd of The New York Times.
If you want to dance like Tom “The Hammer” (a nickname DeLay earned as House Majority leader for his role as enforcer of the Republican party line) DeLay, then slip on those heels and silk shirt: it’s time to tango.
- Start by erecting a strong frame. In dance terms “the frame” is the way dancers position their bodies together and fuse into a unit that moves in a graceful and rhythmic manner. Practicing proper posture individually sets the foundation for a fabulous tango form. Professional dance instructors like Cheryl Burke (Meet Tom's dancing partner) tell students that centering, alignment and breathing comprise proper posture.
- Begin the tango in a “closed” dance position. This means the lead’s (usually, the man's) right hand rests on the follows (the woman's) left shoulder blade and the follows left hand floats atop the upper part of lead’s right forearm. The lead’s left hand holds, or presses against, the follows right hand.
- Practice the snap-back head motion that some steps of the tango require: the dancers quickly reverse the direction of their heads and face one another locking eyes in a brief, but intense, gaze before returning to their respective starting positions.
- Feel the rhythm of the tango: Slow…slow…quick-quick-slow. Repeat. Dance professionals often tell beginning students to use the five letters T-A-N-G-O to remember the dance’s five basic steps. Slow…slow…quick, quick-slow. Repeat.
- From the "closed" position the lead steps slowly forward with the left foot. The follow mirrors, stepping backward with the right foot, in sync with the lead’s step forward. (Getting the follow right on DWTS would make Tom a desirable partner should he find himself in a federal prison dance-a-thon--even without the animal print vest and heels.)
- Still on the slow beat, the lead steps forward with the right foot. Again, in sync the follow mirrors the move, stepping back with the right foot.
- Following from the quick beat the lead’s left foot steps forward with a stride shorter than the two previous, long slow-tempo steps. This short step forward with the left foot prepares for the lead to next step to the side with the right foot.
- Feet aligned, the lead next takes a quick step right, with the right foot. The technique aligning the feet in this step, called "collecting" the foot, requires the lead to move the right foot up alongside the left foot before stepping the right foot out to the right. Collecting the foot prevents the lead from moving the right foot diagonally when stepping out to the right.
- Slowly, the lead glides the left foot across the floor to the right foot. At the same time, the follow slowly and deliberately steps the right foot over to stand parallel with the left. This is also done in a light gliding motion with the right toe skimming across the floor to step into position beside the left foot.
- Continue the basic tango by repeating steps five through nine until the song, or songs, end.
Tips & Warnings
- Walk with your hips. As the dance begins leaders employ a long, seductive and commanding stride that swivels forward from the hip. The follow performs this action in reverse, as a mirror of the lead. This connected movement demonstrates the passion and desire tangled in the tango
- Partner’s steps should flow in connected symmetry as part of the tango walk. Keeping eye contact with your partner will make this easier.
- If you're Tom Delay's age, or thereabouts, consult your doctor before taking up the tango.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at Salsa TV, Singapore
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