Ghost Guide To Tango: Sacadas


This article discusses the topic of "sacadas" (displacements).

Principle - displacement

Definition: A sacada is the most common term for a displacement of a leg or foot by the partner's leg or foot. Occurs when a dancer places their foot or leg against a leg of their partner and transfers weight to their leg so that it moves into the space of and displaces the partner's leg. (Taken from Tango Terminology page).


  • Return the foot to the centre of the wheel - keep collecting. It seems like you're making a longer path, but if you don't collect and then sacada, you'll often find her foot stays just out of reach
  • Sacada under her shoulder
  • Cut the line the follow's foot would take to her next collect. The sacada is made by the lead changing the vertical angle of his leg as he steps. It can be made clearer by stepping across slightly to the other side of the followers
  • Can do illusionary, just touching or with oomph similar to barridas
  • Make sure sacadaing leg is rotated out so soft part does the contact.
  • Need to do in the early part of her movement
  • Sacada is done calf-to-calf.
  • Think "Triangles": Look at position of feet - either isosceles or equilateral.

Basic sequence

From a sidestep left
Sidestep left, put right foot towards inside her left; sacada out her right foot as she comes to collect.

Rotate sacadaing leg out.

Back Sacada sequence

Sidestep left, pivot her 90 degrees anti-clockwise. Lead her to take a step back to block position, but start to turn anti-clockwise as you step instead of mirroring her.

As you lead her to take one more step back, several things happen. Your turning motion "opens the door" between her feet. make sure your left foot brushes your right as it passes into the back sacada - it's easier if you think of it being preceded by barridaing her right foot with your left as you open the door. Lead can either stay weighted on right foot or shift axis over by completing the step and transferring weight to his left foot

Alternate entrance
Block to right but don't complete sandwich. Anti-clockwise turn her to step over lead's right foot. Parada then clockwise turn her to again step over lead's right foot with her right. As she steps over with her left, lead step to left with his right, collects and back sacadas.

Yet another entrance
Sidestep left. Lead stealth weight transfers to cross system. Lead her to underturned 45 degree back ocho to left, as lead steps forward with his left. Lead collects pivots and back sacadas with his right foot. After back sacada can lead her to start to giro clockwise allowing lead to sacada the inside of her right leg with the inside of his right.

Chains to
If you freeze with left leg in back sacada position and reverse her she can either

  • Front sacada your leg out of the way to giro.
  • Gancho your left hip - can add in small volcada

If you freeze right leg where it is but retract left leg she can gancho your right leg.

"Step, pivot-step, step" back sacada sequence

Begin linear giro. Both sidestep left, lead ending up slightly to left of follow. Follow does back ocho step as a "stepandpivot" lead steps to left in a front ocho. Keeping follow facing the same way ie don't turn her into face lead, she takes another step back as lead b sacadas. Lead has option to barrida her right foot back as she steps back.

Lead her to step, pivot, step. Or step, pivotstep, step.

Very important to keep lead's heel close to the ground. There's a very effective way to do this. Step backwards with your heel in the air and you'll see your foot is aligned in the direction you're stepping. However if you rotate you foot out slightly, about 30 degrees and bend the weight bearing leg before you step back, you'll find you can keep your heel on the floor. NB The foot still travels along the same path, but is just angled slightly off it. It's also easier if you angle the supporting foot again about 30 degree, but this time in ie the same direction as the sacadaing foot.

Note: if back sacada to left with lead's left foot, it will be a smaller step - he can either reverse the follow into a rear boleo etc, or he can complete the movement by taking a sidestep to the right with his right foot. If the lead back sacadas with his right foot, he can take a bigger step and weight transfer comfortably if he wishes.

Option to come up to toes off weight-bearing leg to reduce the amount of lowering of the leader's torso

Forward ochos front sacada to back sacada.

Go to cross in cross system. Block with lead's left foot. Begin leading front ocho, lead collects left foot and does first sacada with his right, leads a second ocho and do back sacada with his left.

Need to bear in mind you're both doing "Step, pivot, step." for the timing

The lead moves perpendicular to the follow on both steps. The follow does a 90 degree shift on the first sacada.
Remember to collect.

The lead "opens the door" again so can barrida her left foot open with lead's left at the beginning of the backs sacada.
Lead can do a stealth weight change as he collects for back sacada and instead back sacada with his righ which is more naturally closer to her left leg and so feels "safer"

Lady Back sacada


Back ochos - overturn clockwise.

Americana reversed into overturned back ocho.

Chains to giros.

The embrace changes. Effectively put her right hand in towards her right rib so that she has to turn more to re-form the embrace on her right side. Leader's right hand is also on the back of her right ribs adding an impulse

Lead her to lunge on her left, take her back to collect, don't weigh change, acw pivot to overturned back ocho as you step to 10 o'clock on right foot. Either stop or possibly continue with back ochos?

Lady Front sacada

Man leads follow to walk forwards. He does overturned front ochos crossing her path so she sacadas him.

Or back sacada (but freeze with left leg out) lady to a boleo and then reverse it to step her into front sacadaing lead's left leg. Continue into giro.

Don't lift her up first (volcada lead) - just pull her forwards.


Interupt the sidestep of a giro.

Very similar to gancho.
From sidestep left place heel of lead's ganchoing foot by the heel of her right foot. As she pivots to left for b ocho her heel will move left making space for lead's toe in enter. Don't. Pivot where you are. Important to turn her cw. It works well to imagine the teacher standing off to the left watching the move. At the end you want to be facing them so you can ask what they thought. Feel the energy build up as her leg envelops yours (which needs to be slightly flexed) and then at the peak straighten your leg to sacada her out into back ocho / giro.

 - Christopher O'Shea