Argentine tango lessons from SYTYCD choreographers

Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo are offering beginning and intermediate classes in Argentine tango every Monday through August and September in Downey. These are classes that emphasize technique over just learning the steps and have something for everyone, including advanced helpers to make learning easier.

The classes started on August 6, but each night has a different topic so jump right in. The beginners class is 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Intermediate and advance dancers are 9:05 until 10:30 p.m.

Each class is $18 and includes a technique-focused warm-up.

August 13, the topic is milonguero style. Milonguero style refers to a style employing a close embrace in which both partners lean toward each other and have upper body contact. This style is useful in nightclubs on crowded dance floors and usually doesn’t include high kicks and fancy showy footwork.

August 20, Larici and Barrionuevo will teach barridas, llevadas and contraboleos. A barrida is a sweeping motion in which one partner’s foot sweeps the other partner’s foot and places it somewhere else without losing contact.

The term llevada comes from the verb, llevar, meaning to transport or carry. In this step, the man or leader uses his upper thigh or foot to carry the follower’s leg to the next step. You can see how this relates to barridas.

Contraboleos are boleos with a contra body movement. A boleo (from bolear which means to throw) is when either the leader or follower keeps their knees together and with the support leg swivels while whipping the free leg either high or low, in back or in front.

For August 27, the focus will be on sacadas. Sacadas are a displacement of a foot or leg when the leader or the follower shifts weight. They often give the impression that one person is kicking the leg or foot or the other person out of the way.

The couple will not ave a lesson on Labor Day, but on September 10, they will be back to teach giros, enrosques and embellishments. Giros are turning steps or figures and somewhat related to molinetes (windmills or wheels).

The verb enrosque means to coil or twist and an enrosque step is usually performed by the leader as the follower is performing a giro or a molinete. The leader wraps one leg around the other, perhaps catching one foot around the other foot or ankle as if he’s being twisted or coiled up by the follower’s actions.

In tango, embellishments are also called adornos in Spanish. These are small decorative steps, that give personality and flavor to the dance style  of individual dancers. These can include amague (sort of a fake-out step) or golpecitos (little toe taps) or golpes (toe taps) among other things.

September 17, the lessons will be on musicality and navigation. Listening to the music is something that’s easy to forget and the tango and milonga rhythms sometimes accent certain beats.

The last lessons will be on September 24 and the topic will be colgadas and volcadas. These are fun steps that require good connection between partners and core strength. In the volcada (from the verb volcar which means to capsize), the leader takes the follower off her axis and then catches her, supporting her while she sweeps her leg in front of her, or behind her.

In the colgada, leader and follower lean out, sharing an axis and spinning. How far the two lean out and the actual body positions depends upon the height and weight of both the leader and the follower.

The location is a bit out of the way, but there’s plenty of parking.  Whether you’re a beginner or an intermediate dancer, you can learn a lot and improve under the watchful eyes of two of the world’s top tango dancers, Miriam Larici and Leonardo Barrionuevo.

  • Elks Club
  • 1233 Woodruff Ave.
  • Downey, CA 90241

Beginners class is 8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Intermediate and advance dancers are 9:05 to 10:30 p.m.

Each class is $18 and includes a technique-focused warm-up.


For more information, go to


About Jana J. Monji

I've written for the Rafu Shimpo, LA Weekly, LA Times, and, more recently, the Pasadena Weekly and I formerly worked for a dot-com more interested in yodeling than its customers.

Posted on August 10, 2012, in Special Events. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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