The Code: A Notation System for Argentine Tango
A Seminar with Andres Amarilla & Meredith Klein
October 29 & 30, 2011


What is The Code?
The Code is a notation system for Argentine Tango which Andres Amarilla developed in 1997 and has been using and refining ever since. Andres taught Meredith Klein The Code in 2005 and this shared means of writing, reading, and “thinking” tango has greatly informed their teaching and enabled them to achieve greater and greater complexity in improvisation. Andres & Meredith began teaching The Code in 2005 in Buenos Aires, gave a full seminar on the subject in Pittsburgh in 2006, and have been sharing The Code with students in private lessons since then. An iPhone app on The Code is forthcoming in 2012.

Why Learn The Code?
The most common complaint among tango students is that they have trouble remembering the steps they learn in class, and therefore are not able to incorporate the new material into social dancing. The Code addresses this exact problem by providing a means to easily and logically notate every tango step and sequence. Although reading & writing The Code takes a bit longer than recording and watching a video, it is exponentially more useful. Engaging with a tango sequence by notating it forces us to think through the sequence in great detail and fully understand how the sequence works. For example, The Code teaches us to see: how the leader’s and follower’s steps fit together; whether we’re in parallel or cross system and how and when we change systems; and what the musical highlights of the sequence are and how they fit into the 8-count phrase, among many other important insights. It is this deep understanding of a sequence that enables us to remember it and dance it well, and that will eventually enable us to improvise complex sequences of our own making.

It may seem that The Code’s usefulness is limited to the leader’s role. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The enormous challenge of following is to instantaneously recognize the step that the leader is asking for and then apply all the correct technique necessary to execute that step well. Learning to “think” tango through The Code speeds up the process of recognizing each step led, and being able to name each movement in real time makes us more able to apply the correct technique to each step. This technical clarity and know-how is the foundation that makes all of the other wonderful things about tango – musicality, expressiveness, connection – possible.

The seminar is extremely hands-on. For the most part, you will not be sitting down taking notes. Instead, you’ll be on your feet, dancing and working through steps and sequences - and sometimes inventing your own. Each student will receive a worksheet packet to use during the seminar and take with them at the end.






photo: Zebra Visual