Tango dancers often discuss the importance of dancing to the music, having ‘good musicality’ etc. But what exactly does it mean to dance musically? I tried noting some possibilities, and since some are very basic, while other are more advanced (and should be used sparingly).
I tried to classify them within the usual trichotomy of beginner/intermediate/advanced, thinking that you have to know the very basics, and you should master basically everything in the intermediate before venturing out into the advanced concepts. Some of the advanced concepts should be used with care, such as stepping on the weak beat.
Dancing when there is music and not when there is not (yes, really)
Stepping on the (strong)beat
Make your partner step on the (strong) beat.
(be able to)Dance double time
Dance tango to tango music, milonga to milonga and vals to vals (etc)
Interpretation of the emotional content of the music (e.g. humorous, sad, tragic, romantic etc)
Walk to music with strong walking beat
Dance to the phrasing of the music
Dancing the pauses
Dance smoother to smooth music, more rhythmically to rhythmic music etc.
Leading one rhythm while doing another
Match something in the music with particular step or ornament
Dance the final variation
Predict the end of a song and close in time.
Step on the weak beat (and not on the strong)
Moving counter to the music (e.g. slow down when the music is fast)
Play with rhythms
Fit sequences of steps with the phrases of the music
Repeat and make variations when the music repeats with variations
Syncopated steps (e.g. suspension or anticipation) that fits the music
Something extra :-)