Compact combinations with front boleos

Last night in intermediate tango class, we worked on two close embrace (or open if you like) combinations that included front boleos. I enjoy teaching moves that I lead, but that I don't see out there on the dance floor very often.

This was a continuation of some ideas we worked on the week before, with the added request from a leader to learn compact moves that would keep him interested, but help him avoid crashing into others.

Front boleo at the cross

What I like about this boleo is that you can lead it on a crowded dance floor, with almost no preparation, on any intermediate or advanced dancer who can follow a boleo. It can be a quick move, or almost slow motion, allowing the follower to play with the exit step, adding an adorno, or just caressing her way through the leg motion. Mmmm! This is a move for the follower, not to show off to your buddies watching: it's small and delicious.

  • For this move, you need to have your cross (cruzada) dialed in. If you arrive at the cross with no energy, or off balance, this is NOT the time to lead a boleo.
  • As the follower arrives at the cruzada, and switches weight onto the left foot, the right leg is free and available for a boleo.
  • The leader rotates slightly to the left to free the follower's right leg, and then keeps rotating to the left to create a "con" boleo (both people rotating the same direction, or counter-clockwise here). It is very important for the leader to keep the hips facing forward, or this step becomes a left turn, not a rotation in place for the follower.
  • As the leaders noticed in class, the key element is timing, not force. This is a rebound, not a throw and catch sequence ;-) You need to create rebound in your torso by keeping the hips forward, and then give the follower's leg time to finish the rebound AFTER you until both of you are ready to exit the move.
  • The follower needs to release the free leg (right) at the hip joint while standing tall on the support leg (left). Make sure that you pivot your foot on the floor enough to allow your hips to turn through the space around your axis; don't start the boleo too soon, or you will kick the leader. Keep your heels together in your "V" until the leg has to release, creating the boleo.
  • After the release of the boleo, the follower's body unwinds, or rebounds, back to neutral to allow a walking exit from the boleo.

Front boleo after the walkaround turn

Most intermediate dancers already know how to do traveling back ochos. Most also have good skills at leading turns. This move combines those elements with a spiffy front boleo that is used as a change in direction in the middle of the sequence.

Leader's information:

  • Here, having smooth traveling back ochos sets up for a tight turn, which leads to the boleo.
  • Make sure your traveling back ochos go DOWN the room, not from side to side, leaders. In class, we polished this move to make it more enjoyable for the follower.
  • After either .5 or 1.5 ochos, the leader is on the left foot traveling line-of-dance (LOD). Twist the torso (but not the hips) to the right (clockwise) to get the follower turning around you with a "back cross, open step, front cross" turn.
  • As soon as they vacate the space where they were standing before the turn, step there and rotate in place for the follower's turn. This is a sacada in a way, as you are replacing (or displacing) the follower in space. However, you step around the follower's foot, not through the open space between her feet, so it looks different.
  • As the follower lands on the front cross step (the follower's right foot), rotate as if to make a front ocho BUT don't allow the follower to step forward: keep them on balance on the right foot. Overrotate until the follower's left leg does the boleo, and rebound back.
  • At this point, the ending we learned is my favorite way to use this step on the dance floor. If done correctly, you end up facing LOD, ready to walk down the floor. As the follower unwinds from the front boleo, have them do a left turn (back cross, open step, front cross) around the leader until the leader faces LOD, and walk.

Follower's information:

  • On your traveling back ochos, make sure that you use your hips to do most of the rotation, rather than swinging your legs for momentum. This will make it easier to overturn into the right turn.
  • When the leader and you are both on left feet, the leader will have you overturn to his/her right. This gives an overturned back step to begin a three step turn: back cross with right, open step with left, forward cross step with right.
  • As you arrive on the right foot, you should feel an impetus to pivot, as you would for a front ocho, but without being sent forward into a step. The pivot should be extreme, so that your left leg has to release around your support leg (right) for a front boleo.
  • Let the boleo rebound into a back cross step with the left, open with the right, forward cross step with the left, to end up facing reverse LOD, ready to walk down the floor.
  • Remember that your boleo is a response to the leader's torso rebound. Just like a whip handle and whip tip, your leg trails the leader's initial twist, so you will finish a fraction of a moment behind the leader's move. They should wait for that unwind, and use your momentum to start your turn to the leader's left.
  • Hip motion: we worked a bit on the proper hip placement in a pivot, so that the leg swings more freely. The knees contact each other (like Pringle potato chips), fitting one in front of the other, and releasing back for the rebound. Remember that the boleo energy comes from the hip pivot and leg release, not from winding up and swinging.
  • After the front boleo, make sure that your free foot passes against the heel of your support leg, to avoid kicking the leader :-)

Those of you were in class, try these moves out, and let me know if I forgot to include something that you need to help remember the combos. I've been doing these for so many years that sometimes I forget to explain something when I write it down!