Intermediate Tango review Dec09

Of all the requests this session, we focused most on the following: ocho technique and boleo technique for followers, and leading sacadas and boleos. I'm not ignoring the requests for ganchos and  volcadas: that's my plan for next session, as well as tackling a bit of vals timing--and anything else you'd like, as usual.

As we have a one-room schoolhouse in this class, with beginning intermediates and advanced intermediates in one class, you may not recognize all the variations I note here: some of them I only gave to those of you who wanted more to do. You all made wonderful progress this session and I can't wait to see what the New Year brings!

Kinds of sacadas

  • Front: The person DOING the sacada is stepping forward through the step of the other person.
  • Back: The person DOING the sacada is stepping backwards through the step of the other person.
  • Side: The person DOING the sacada is taking an open step through the step of the other person. (Note: some of these sacadas can also be seen as front, or forward moving sacadas; lots of folks like to argue about what to call these steps)
  • Linear: The path of the person RECEIVING the sacada is linear, or approximately linear. An example of this would be the sacadas we did from grapevine steps moving line of dance (LOD).
  • Circular: The path of the person RECEIVING the sacada is circular, or curved. An example of this would be a sacada done through the follower's turn.
  • Leader: The leader is DOING the sacada through the step of the follower.
  • Follower: The leader is leading the follower to do a sacada through the step of the leader.

Sacadas that we did:

Leader front sacada through the follower's front cross step

  • The version we did of this move traveled down the dance floor, line-of-dance (LOD).
  • Although we did it in parallel system, it also works nicely in crossed system.
  • The leader faces out of the room, and leads a side step LOD. Note that there are two parallel tracks here, each moving LOD around the room. The leader is on the inside track, and the follower is on the outside track.
  • The follower is led in a front cross step ONTO the leader's track (so, forward diagonal LOD) with the left foot.
  • The leader steps THROUGH that step with the free foot--in parallel system, with the right foot (in crossed system, it will be the left foot that is free).
  • The position of the couple puts a lot of torque on the follower's hips, so make sure that there is time for the follower to unwind before moving through space again. As a follower, I like to take the next step as a front cross LOD or around the leader.
  • The leader MUST continue to lead the follower's step with the torso while stepping forward into the space vacated by the follower. Remember that the leader's hips should follow the leader's move and then pivot upon landing the step. Try to avoid stepping sideways into this step!
  • The same move can be done with the leader starting on the outside track and the follower on the inside track, still moving LOD. In this case, the follower's left step is the side step, with a right forward cross step to the outside diagonal LOD; the leader travels parallel to the follower LOD, and then steps into the sacada with the free foot.

Leader back sacada through the follower's front cross step

  • Here, the follower is led exactly the same way as the step above: a side step, followed by a forward cross step that travels to the other "track" LOD. 
  • The leader steps LOD with the left, facing the follower. Then, the leader pivots in place as far as possible and changes feet, onto the right. This leaves the left leg/foot free to step through the follower's forward cross step.
  • It is SUPER important to remember that the leader's energy and focus remain with the follower. In this move, it is not possible to remain facing the follower during the sacada, but do NOT abandon the follower by removing your energy! Think of your tango connection like a ball bearing, surrounding your body at the height of the solar plexus. The connection may move, but it does not fade. This helps your follower and you complete the move without losing balance.
  • I like to lead this move, then lead a front boleo for the follower, moving into a turn around the leader; but there are hundreds of possibilities.
  • This step is doable to both sides, but is much easier led with the leader facing out. As the embrace needs to change for this step to work well, it is easier to close and open the closed side of the embrace, rather than messing with the open side :-)
  • Embrace changes: I think of this embrace change like Francois Truffaut's famous movie fades, where the picture from the camera lens gradually shrinks (called an iris shot) as the aperture is closed to darkness.  The closed side of the embrace shrinks until there is no space, as the leader's right arm slides behind the follower. The follower's left arm slides behind the leader. Then, as the move resolves, the embrace returns to normal with the same slide, but reversed.

Leader back sacada through the follower's open or side step

  • Again, this is easier if led when the leader is facing out of the room, due to the issues of closing and opening the embrace. I'm going to save messing with the open side of the embrace, for an advanced class.
  • Here, you can again lead a partial grapevine (parallel or crossed system) down LOD.
  • After the follower's front cross step, lead the open/side step onto the leader's track, stepping through for the sacada so that the leader ends up on the outside track, facing into the room.
  • Because the follower is not executing a cross step during the sacada, there is less of a need to unwind here.
  • Leaders: if you are in parallel system, you will not have to switch feet before doing the back sacada, as your left foot will already be free.
  • Note: you can also do a leader's front sacada here, instead of pivoting for the back sacada.
  • I like to lead either a petite back boleo here, or collect and walk to the cross.

Follower back sacada through the leader's open step

  • The follower's back sacada is a bit harder to lead; you need to be able to tell the follower to overturn and keep the feet collected, in order to avoid bodily harm from their heels!
  • If the leader keeps the hips stable and turns the upper torso/solar plexus, then the follower will be able to overturn to their extreme rotation. If the leader opens the hip, the follower has a much harder time doing this. So, if the step is not working, leaders: check your hips!
  • Followers: If you maintain your axis, it should be easy to keep your feet collected under you, without tight ankles and legs. Try to break the step down into: overturn, rotate in place and step.
  • Leaders: Keep your eyes open. If the follower's free leg is swinging free, GET OUT OF THE WAY or your shins will be bruised. A lot. Ask me how I know this.
  • The follower's back sacada can go through pretty much any step of the leader, so figure out what foot you are comfortable on, and travel with the other one.
  • This step is easier in a circular sacada pattern, but is doable traveling LOD.

Note: There are three parts of a back sacada!

  1. Overturn the person doing the sacada.
  2. Rotate in place while maintaining that extreme torque in the body.
  3. Take/lead a back step.

A lot of people try to do back sacadas without step #2, by crossing their feet behind themselves while stepping.  This is much less exact, and results in an out-of-control step or two, until balance and connection return. Step #2 isn't really visible, but it is an intrinsic part of the move. It gives the leader a moment to prepare the step and make sure all is in order, before either stepping or requesting the follower to step. Thanks to Luciana Valle for teaching this to me!

Fun variations using these moves:

Combo #1: Leader front sacada through the follower's forward cross step; front boleo; unwind and continue LOD, or gancho.

Combo #2: Leader back sacada through the follower's side step; baby back boleo; volcada; exit.

Combo #3: Follower front boleo; follower back sacada through leader's step (any step); turn.

Combo #4: Leader front sacada through follower front cross step; leader front sacada through follower front cross (the two have now crisscrossed down LOD and are facing original facings); one step LOD; leader back sacada through follower's side step.