Tango in New Zealand Tango in New Zealand
Articles

English/Castellano Tango Vocabulary

The following is a translation of common terms used in the dance community and is compliments of Maggie Cohan-Hughes of the UK - http://www.tangofocus.com

(March 2004)

 

PARTS OF THE BODY

los

aductores

 

adductors

el

brazo

 

arm

la

cabeza

 

head

la

cadera

 

hip

la

cintura

 

waist

el

codo

 

elbow

el

cuerpo

 

body

el

dedo

 

toe

     

finger

la

espalda

 

spine

el

hombro

 

shoulder

la

mano

 

hand

el

ojo

 

eye

el

pecho

 

chest/breast

el

pie

 

foot (feet)

la

pierna

 

leg

la

rodilla

 

knee

el

taco

 

heel

el

tobillo

 

ankle

TIME

a menudo

often

 

a veces

sometimes

ahora

now

     

antes

before

 

despues

after/later

otra vez

again

     

siempre

always

 

nunca

never

POSITION

arriba

above

 

abajo

below

detras/atras

behind

/back

 

adelante

in front/forward/

to the front

cerca

near

 

away from/far

lejos

adentro

inside

 

afuera

outside

abierto

open

 

cerrado

closed

junto

together

 

separado

apart

aca

here

 

alla

there

izquierda

left

 

derecha

right

sobre

over

 

abajo

under

al otro lado

across/

on the other side

     

junto a

beside/next to

     

al lado/al costado

sideways/to the side

     

diagonal

diagonal

     

a traves de/por

through

     

entre

in between

     

aldredor

around

     

 

VERBS 1

   

(past irregular in brackets)

 

useful phrases

abrir

 

open

 

step sideways/with legs apart

ayudar

 

help

   

cerrar

 

close

   

flexionar

articular

 

bend (bent)

   

andar

 

step

 

take a step to…

bailar

 

dance

   

bajar

 

lower

 

bend down

cambiar

 

change

 

change partners

caminar

 

walk

   

comenzar

 

begin (began)/start

 

let’s begin

marcar/conducir

 

lead (led)

   

corregir

 

correct

   

dar

 

give (gave)

   

descansar

 

rest

 

take a break

deslizar

 

slide (slid)/glide

   

dibujar

 

draw (drew)

   

empezar

 

start/begin (began)

   

empujar

 

push

   

enseñar

 

teach (taught)

   

equilibrar

 

balance

 

find your balance

escuchar

 

listen

   

estirar

 

stretch

 

stretch out

ficarse

 

see (saw)

 

pay close attention to

girar

 

turn

   

hacer

 

do (did)/make

   

ir

 

go (went)

   

juntar

 

join

 

put your feet together

levanter

 

lift

   

mantener/quedarse

 

keep (kept)/stay

   

mirar

 

look

 

Watch

mostrar

 

show

   

moverse

 

move

   

olvidar

 

forget (forgot)

   

pasar

 

pass

 

Take your weight into…/Put your weight on…

pivotear

 

pivot

   

practicar

 

practise

   

preguntar

 

ask

   

preparar

 

prepare

   

relajar

 

relax

   

repetir

 

repeat

   

seguir

 

follow

   

sentir

 

feel (felt)

   

separar

 

separate

   

soportar

 

support

   

sostener

 

hold (held)

   

tener

 

have (had)

   

tener que

 

have to/have got to

   

terminar

 

finish/end

   

tirar

 

pull

   

tocar

 

touch

   

trabajar

 

work

   

traer

 

bring (brought)/

take (took)

   

venir

 

come (came)

   

ver

 

see (saw)

   

ADJECTIVES

suave

soft/ gentle

 

duro/rigido

hard/rigid

relajado/flojo

relaxed

 

tenso/rigido

tense/rigid

grande/largo

big/large

 

pequeno

small/little

     

chiquito

tiny

alto

high/tall

 

bajo

low

pesado

heavy

 

liviano

light

rapido

quick/fast

 

despacio/lento

slow

tranquilo

quietly/gently

 

ruidoso

loud

recto/bloqueado

straight

 

articulado/flexionado

bent

directo

direct/straight

     

limpio

clean

 

sucio

messy(dirty)

fluido

flowing

   

broken up

diferente

different

     

MORE WORDS

el

abrazo

 

embrace/dance hold

 

la

barra

 

bar

 

el

borde

 

edge

 

el

circulo

 

circle

 

el

compas

 

timing/beat

 

el

cruce

 

cross

 

la

direcion

 

direction

 

el

eje

 

axis/balance

 

el

espacio/lugar

 

space/place

 

la

figura

 

figure/steps

 

la

fuerza

 

force/power

 

el

giro

 

turn

 

la

linea

 

line

in a line

el

medio

 

middle

 

el

movimiento

 

movement

 

el

ocho

 

ocho

 

el

paso

 

step

 

la

pausa

 

pause

 

el

peso

 

weight

 

el

piso

 

floor

 

la

pista

 

dancefloor

 

el

punto

 

point

 

el

ritmo

 

rhythm

 

el

tiempo

 

time/timing

 

VERBS 2

ajustar/areglar

 

adjust

anadir

 

add

apurarse

 

hurry

aumentar

 

increase

concentrar

 

concentrate

conectar

 

connect

confundir

 

confuse

contrar

 

count

cortar

 

cut

crecer

 

grow

cuidar

 

care

decidir

 

decide

decir

 

say

desarollar (se)

 

develop

esperar

 

wait

explicar

 

explain

guiar

 

guide

inclinar(se)

 

lean

necesitar

 

need

oir

 

hear

permitir

 

allow/let

poder

 

can/be able to

respirar

 

breath

saber

 

know

ser/estar

 

be

torcer(se)

 

twist

Abrazo The embrace; a hug; or dance position.

Abrir To open.

Adelante Forward

Adornos Embellishments.

Al costado To the side.

Amague From amagar. To make a threatening motion as a feint: An amague is used as an embellishment either led or done on one’s own, and may be used before taking a step. An example of an amague may be a beat (frappé) before taking a step. See Cuatro.

Apilado Style See Milonguero Style.

Arrabal The slums.

Arrabalero A person of low social status. A person of simple and direct ways who speaks plainly and uses coarse language.

Arrastre A drag. E.g., to drag your partner's foot with your own.

Arrepentida Repentant; To change one’s mind: A family of steps which allow a couple to back away from a collision or traffic jam in a minimal amount of space and on short notice.

Atrás Backward

Bailar To dance.

Bailarin A professional or very accomplished dancer.

Bailongo A lunfardo word to describe a place where people dance, i.e. a milonga.

Balanceo A deep check and replace. See Cadencia.

Baldosa A walking box figure named after the black & white checkerboard tile floors which are common in Buenos Aires. See Cuadrado.

Barrida (from barrer, To sweep away.) Also called llevada. A sweeping motion. One partner's foot sweeps the other's foot.

Barrio A neighborhood in an Argentine city.

Boleo (from bolear. An ornament. Throwing or swiveling one leg with the knees locked together, usually one behind the other. A boleo may be done with the toe touching the floor or higher. And may be executed either high or low. Keeping knees together, with one leg in back, swivel on the supporting leg.

Los brazos The arms.

Cabeceo From cabeza; head: Traditional technique for selecting dance partners from a distance at the milongas in Buenos Aires by using eye contact and head movements. See also Codigos.

Cadena Chain. A movement of two people across the floor in a circular motion. One partner displaces the other partners leg and rolls across the front of their body. The other partner continues the motion. Must be seen to be appreciated.

Cadencia A deep check and replace usually led by the man as he steps forward left. Useful for avoiding collisions and making direction changes in small spaces. May also refer to a subtle shifting of weight from foot to foot in place and in time with the music done by the man before beginning a dance to give the lady the rhythm he intends to dance and to ensure that she will begin with him on the correct foot. See Balanceo.

Caida Fall: A step in which the man steps backward, sinks on his supporting leg, and crosses his working leg in front without weight while leading the lady to step forward in outside position, sink on her supporting leg and cross her working leg behind without weight. Caida may be done to either side.

Calecita Carousel; the merry-go-round: A figure in which the man places the lady on one foot with a lifting action of his frame and then dances around her while keeping her centered over, and pivoting on, her supporting leg. Sometimes referred to as the Stork.

Caminar To walk.The walk is similar to a natural walking step. The body and leg must move as a unit so that the body is in balance.

Candombe A type of dance done by the descendants of black slaves in Argentina. A type of tango music with a marked rhythm played on a drum. The place where black people went to dance (synonymous with 'milonga').

Cangrejo The crab: A repetitive pattern of walking steps and or sacadas in which the man advances turned nearly sideways to his partner.

Canyengue An older style of tango.

Carancanfunfa (also carancanfun) In the lingo of the compadritos, the dance of tango with interruptions (cortes) and also those who dance it that way in a very skillful manner.

Caricias Caresses: A gentle stroking with the leg or shoe against some part of the partner's body. They can be subtle or extravagant. See Adorno, Firulete, and Lustrada.

Carousel: The lead steps in a circle around the follower - keeping them on their own axis.

Carpa The tent: A figure created when the man leads the lady onto one foot as in calecita and then steps back away from her, causing her to lean at an angle from her foot to his frame.

Castigada From castigar: to punish; a punishment: A lofting of the lady's working leg followed by flexing at the knee and caressing the working foot down the outside of the supporting leg. Often done as an adorno prior to stepping forward, as in parada or in ochos.

Chiche (pl. chiches) Small ornamental beats done around the supporting foot with the working foot in time with the music, either in front or in back as desired. See adorno, firulete.

La Cintura The waist.

El compás The beat.

Corrida A running step used in milonga, a series of small steps in double-time.

Corte Cut. Corte means cutting the music either by syncopating or holding several beats, taking something away from the principal move. Opposite of Firuletes.

Cruzada The cross. Crossing one foot in front or in back of the other.

Cruzar To cross.

El cuerpo The body

Los dedos The fingers, toes

Derecha Right.

Derecho Straight.

Despacio Slowly.

Desplazamiento displacement. Displacing a partner's foot or leg using your own foot or leg.

Dibujo A drawing or sketch. A dibujo is done by drawing circles or other small movements on the floor with the toe.

Doble Tiemp Double time.

El eje The axis (of the body).

Enganche Hooking or coupling, wrapping your leg around your partner's leg.

Enrosque From enroscar, to coil, twist, or screw. To spin on one foot while hooking the other foot behind, usually while the woman is executing a molinete.

Escuchar To listen.

Fantasia A style of tango for the stage characterized by large sweeping moves, and often many ganchos. Considered inappropriate in a small club or salon.

Fijarse Pay close attention to.

Gancho A hook. Used primarily on stage, considered inappropriate for salon tango.

Giro Turn. When the woman is doing a molinete, the man walks in a circle to his right or left (can be done either direction), sometimes turning sharply, sometimes slowly. One of the basic walking patterns.

Guiar To guide, also to lead.

Izquierda Left.

Juntos Together. From juntar to join together, as in one's feet or knees.

Lápiz Pencil. A circular figure executed with one foot drawing on the floor.

Llevada From llevarto carry or transport. Similar to a barrida. The man can move the woman's foot with his own, carrying it off the floor or across the floor.

La Marca The lead. From marquar, to lead.

Media vuelta Half turn.Usually done when man's right foot and woman's left foot are free. Man steps forward with his right leading woman to take a back step with her left and then leads her to take two steps while making a half turn.

Milonga 1) The music of a dance that preceeded the tango, usually in 2/4 time, quicker and more upbeat than tango. 2) A dance, where people go to dance tango and milonga.

Milonguero An older tango dancer, one who frequented the milongas during the 1940's and 50's. Also refers to those frequenting the milongas and considered tango enthusiasts. May also describe a style of dancing during that period.

Mirar To look.

Molinete Little windmill. A fan. When the follower moves in a circle around the leader, doing a footwork resembling forward and backward ochos.

Mordida Bite. One partner's foot is sandwiched between the other partner's feet.

Ochos Eights. Pivoting forward or backward with the feet together during the pivot and extended during the step.

Ocho atras: ochos backward

Ocho cortado Cut eight.

Orillero The outskirts of the city, suburban. Orillero style A style of dancing from the suburbs characterized by the man doing many quick, syncopated foot moves.

Parada A stop.

Pasos Steps.

Patada A kick.

El pecho The chest.

El peso The weight.

El piso Floor

La pista Dance floor

Pocket: Anytime the lead walks on outside of partner - either hip.

Preguntar To ask.

Una pregunta, por favor. A question, please.

Las piernas The legs

Quebrada Break. The woman is standing on one foot, often hanging her weight on the man. The other foot is relaxed, often slightly raised with the toe touching the floor.

Rápido Fast. Usually heard "mas rapido."

Resolución Resolution. An ending to a basic pattern.

El Ritmo The rhythm.

Las Rodillas The knees.

Rulo A curl.

Sacada A displacement of the feet.

Salida A start, or a run. The beginning of a pattern.

Salida Cruzada The beginning of a pattern with a cross, stepping side left crossing right foot behind left or side right crossing left foot behind right.

Salón A style of dancing for the milonga or small club, as opposed to stage tango (see Fantasia).

Sandwichito: One partner's foot is sandwiched between the other partner's feet.

Seguir To follow.

Sacada A displacement, to move your partner's leg out of the way gently with your own. See desplazamiento.

Sentada A sitting move, the woman sits on her partner's bent leg or waist.

Trabada Fastened, a lock step. The step that the woman takes when the man steps outisde his partner with his right foot and then straight forward left, together right. At this point the woman crosses and this cross is referred to as a trabada.

Una vez mas One more time.

Vals Waltz, done to tango music in waltz time.

The tango is seen as a music of passionate love. It is not. It is the music of loneliness and lust.

Ricardo Gomez