Each of the verbs I review here refers to a noun which is used to define an element of tango. Those elements are walking, stepping, turning and stopping as well as some common figures and embellishments.
FIRST LEARN HOW TO WALK
If you decide to learn tango and enroll in a beginner course, the first thing your teacher will teach you is most probably stepping. In tango, this simple walking step is called “caminada”. This word comes from the verb CAMINAR which means “to walk” in ordinary Spanish. If you look up the word caminada in a language learner’s dictionary, you will probably find nothing. Because it is not used in ordinary Spanish to mean a foot step; it is only a tango terminology.
When you want to say “foot step” in the usual context, you may use (la) pisada or (el) paso. Paso is used to mean the step in dancing as well. . As in “paso de vals : Waltz step”. Do not use pisada in this case. The word pisada is used only to mean “foot step”. And the corresponding verb is PISAR: to walk on, to step on.
SALIR is somehow a difficult Spanish verb. It is actually one of the first verbs a beginner student learns, but it can mean more than one thing. Its primary meaning is to leave, to go out. But it can also mean to set off a journey or to exit or to come out. The tango term salida comes from salir and it means the starting point of the dance.
Corrida stems from CORRER: to run. It means a short sequence of running steps in tango.
ADD SOME FIGURES AND TAKE A BREATH
Whenever a kind of crossing of feet takes place in tango, a cruzado occurs. It originates from the verb CRUZAR – to cross. Cruzado means crusader in ordinary Spanish. Cruzado and cruzada are also used as adjectives meaning crossed in Spanish.
A giro is a turn in tango. It usually occurs when the lady steps around the men. Note that you can use giro with the same meaning in ordinary Spanish as well. It stems from the verb GIRAR: to turn.
In spanish (la) entrada means “entrance”. In tango, it is a figure in which the man steps forward or enters the space between his partners legs. It stems from ENTRAR: to enter.
Arrastre means dragging the partner’s foot in tango. In ordinary Spanish, it means dragging or pulling. It comes from the verb ARRASTRAR: to drag.
Parada is a stop in tango and in everyday language it means a stop too. By placing his foot close to the foot of the follower, the man stops her. From the verb PARAR – to stop.
(el) Freno means brake in Spanish. In tango the terms freno and parada can be used interchangeably. Freno comes from the verb FRENAR: to stop, to brake.
AND NOW INTRODUCE SOME STYLE & DECORATION
The reason why Argentine Tango is so unique is probably because it can be improvised. To improvise, dancers use some sort of embellishments. These embellishments are called adornos in tango. Adorno means ornament or decoration.
Some examples of such decorations are amague, castigada, enrosque and abrazo.
Before taking a step, an amague may be used as threatening motion. It is some sort of fake move. It stems from the verb AMAGAR, which means “to feint” in ordinary Spanish. Castigada originates from the Spanish verb CASTIGAR : to punish. Castigada and amague are tango specific words only.
While dancing, the man and woman may be in closed embrace (Abrazo cerrado) or in open embrace (Abrazo abierto). To embrace (or to hug) is called ABRAZAR in Spanish. And its noun form is (el) abrazo, which can be used with the same meaning in ordinary Spanish as well.
Sentada is an embellishment in which the lady mounts the man’s leg, to create an impression that she sits in. Sentada means “sitting” in ordinary Spanish. It originates from SENTAR: to sit.
Enrosque stems from ENROSCAR-: to twist. Enrosque is a term specific to tango, it is not used in everyday language.
IN A NUTSHELL
1. abrazar: to embrace (irregular)
2. amagar: to feint (irregular)
3. arrastrar: to drag (regular)
4. caminar: to walk (regular)
5. cruzar: to cross (irregular)
6. girar: to turn (regular)
7. pisar: to step on (regular)
8. castigar: to punish (irregular)
9. enroscar: to twist (irregular)
10. entrar: to enter (regular)
11. frenar: to stop (regular)
12. parar: to stop (regular)
13. sentar: to sit (irregular)
14. correr: to run (regular)
15. salir: to go out (irregular)