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DANCE 239 A: Tango

Meeting Time: 
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm
MNY 267
Juliet McMains
Juliet McMains

Syllabus Description:

Download Full Syllabus:dan239syllabus_15-1.docx

Course Description: This course will offer instruction in tango dancing, focusing on Argentine tango as currently danced around the world. It will also include a brief introduction to tango vals and milonga. Students should expect to learn about tango dance and music history in addition to acquiring physical dance skills. The course will primarily focus on studio practice, but will also include some reading and writing assignments as well as an outing for social dancing.

Tango dancing is most often practiced in male/female couples with roles chosen based on gender—men leading and women following. Nonetheless, same-sex and open-role tango dancing have become increasingly popular over the past 10 years. No prejudice based on gender will de tolerated in this class, and everyone will be expected to partner everyone else in the class. Each new partner has much to teach us about ourselves. You will primarily be responsible for learning the role assigned to the section for which you are registered, but I will occasionally ask you to dance the other role. For those of you with previous dance experience, I encourage you to work on learning both roles.

Course Objectives:

Students successfully engaging course material should:

  1. Learn basic step patterns of milonguero and salon style tango
  2. Develop skills in leading or following
  3. Develop skills in tango dance technique execution
  4. Gain understanding of tango dance and music history
  5. Develop skills in interpreting tango music

Text: The following book on sale at the UW bookstore is required reading for this course. It is also on 4-hour reserve at Odegaard library.

Denniston, Christine. The Meaning of Tango: The Story of the Argentinean Dance. Anova Books, 2008.


Academic Accommodations

To request disability accommodation, contact the Disability Services Office at: 206.543.6450 (voice), 206.543.6452 (TTY), 206.685.7264 (fax), or email at The University of Washington makes every effort to honor disability accommodation requests. Requests can be responded to most effectively if received as far in advance of the event as possible, preferably at least 10 days.

It is imperative that you meet with the instructor for your course within the first full week of school to make arrangements to discuss accommodations. To assist in defining how many absences may be reasonable, and to discuss the unique environment of studio based dance courses, we will both need to complete a Disability Related Absence Agreement:

This form gets filed with DRS. It is important that you understand that there is no way to make up for missed technique classes. You are evaluated on your time in class and on your own improvement in the class. This absences agreement will reflect this information.

Academic Honesty

Students at the University of Washington are expected to maintain the highest standards of academic conduct. Cheating, plagiarism and other forms of academic misconduct are considered serious offenses and could result in a variety of disciplinary actions, including suspension or permanent dismissal from the University.


For more information on Academic Honesty (Cheating and Plagiarism) see:

For information on Student Standards of Conduct see:



  • Class Participation: Full participation in each class will earn students 10 points per class. Tardy students may be admitted to class at the instructor’s discretion and may only receive partial credit for class. If you are unable to dance due to injury or non-contagious illness, you are expected to participate in class in a modified form. Please see the instructor at the beginning of class to develop plans for modification. Please email me to let me know when and why you miss class, prior to class if at all possible. Some opportunities to make up participation points for absence due to illness will be offered by the instructor on a case-by-case basis. Students are responsible for asking the instructor for makeup assignments at the time of the absence or immediately following it. Your lowest two participation grades will be dropped.
  • Reading: We will be reading The Meaning of Tango: The Story of the Argentinean Dance throughout the quarter. Please read the assigned pages before the class for which they are assigned. Students unprepared for a discussion section may not be given full credit for participation in that class.
  • Assignments: Three required written assignments based on the reading as well as viewing additional materials will be posted on canvas. Assignments should be typed and turned in by the beginning of class for the day to which they are assigned. Late assignments will be graded for half credit. A fourth reading and viewing assignment is also required, but no written assignment is required for assignment #4.
  • Outing & Paper: Students are required to go out to a práctica or milonga at least once during the course. Students must write a 1-2 page paper based on their outing experience. Please see canvas for outing paper guidelines. Group outings will be arranged, but you can also arrange to go out dancing on your own to an approved tango venue. Please submit your outing paper within one week of the outing. No papers will be accepted after December 8.



Final Grades will be calculated based on the following percentages:

Class Participation                                                      40%

Assignments                                                               20%

Outing & Paper                                                           10%

Technical Skill Acquisition & Improvement                 30%

Total                                                                           100%


Assignment Schedule


Tuesday, October 13 – Assignment 1 Due


Thursday, October 22 – Optional Outing to Práctica at Dance Underground (9:30pm)


Tuesday, October 27 – Assignment 2 Due


Tuesday, November 10 – Assignment 3 Due


Tuesday, December 1 – Assignment 4 Due


Outing Papers due within 1 week of the Outing


Catalog Description: 
Provides instruction in tango dancing. Focuses on milogeuro and salon style Argentine tango. Introduces tango Nuevo, tango vals, and milonga. Primarily focuses on studio practice. Includes some reading and writing assignments, introduction to tango dance and music history, and an outing for social dancing.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Other Requirements Met: 
Last updated: 
April 28, 2016 - 9:32am