Tango course: Week 4 of 8

24th October 2008

Class Date: Thursday 23rd October 2008, 8pm - 10pm

Teacher: Amir Giles & Jenny Sayer

Class Type Beginners / Intermediates (8-week course)

Location: The Philbeach Hall, 51 Philbeach Gardens, Earls' Courts, London SW5 9EB (map)

(Other write-ups: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8)

Class review

Half-way though already...

The start: revision

We spent quite a lot of time revising the previous weeks' topics. Walking forwards, backwards, working on different techniques. Partnering up, connections, sidesteps, forwards and back steps. Leading back ochos, getting into them from a sidestep+weight-transfer and getting out of them with a weight-transfer+forwards step.

What I've been doing wrong, part 62: When lowering down and preparing to lead a side-step, apparently I lean forward a little, which is confusing to my partner, who not unreasonably thinks I may be leading her backwards. Oops.

We covered crosses, but very briefly - actually, we've spent very little time on crosses in this course, thinking about it....

What I've been doing wrong, part 63: When trying to "definitely" lead a cross, my left arm was leading outwards - thus my partner thought I was trying to lead her (badly) into a side-step. When I stopped moving my left arm (envisage "closing the chest"), everything worked fine.

Not much talk on dissociation this time.

Amir then discussed going round corners, and that it's much easier (for the leader at least) to turn when stepping forwards on the inside leg (left leg, basically), as that means you can take smaller steps,


We then spent some time on rhythm and music. Listening to the music, and attempting to vary the speed and timing within the musical structure.

Amir did this by calling out fast-slow patterns and variations. For example, "slow-quick-quick", "slow-change-change", that sort of thing. We varied between half-time, time, and double-time patterns.

For some reason, this didn't work for me; possibly because of the traffic jams that developed, possibly because I'm just naturally anti-authoritarian and move to my own beat (!). Howeve, I can definitely see the point of the exercise. I wonder if it'd work better to more of a nuevo track, with a more definite beat structure?


Oooh, new moves...!

Amir demonstrated a right sacada from a forward ocho. That is:

  1. Lead the follower to do a forward ocho to the leader's right.
  2. Once she's moved her front foot - and only then - place your right foot forward, under her left shin.
  3. Rotate (naturally) clockwise as you step forwards on this right foot - follower pivots to face you.
  4. Lead the follower into another ocho to your left.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

From the follower's point of view, she's simply doing a forward ocho, then a larger-than-normal clockwise pivot, then another forward ocho.

(Quick Plug: see Ghost's notes on sacadas for more on this step.)

What I've been doing wrong, part 64: When leading this step, previously I thought it was easier to step forwards on my left foot, not my right. Right foot feels like it should be more difficult, but it's actually easier.

What I've been doing wrong, part 65: Moving my foot to do the sacada too early, and so both leading incorrectly, and running a risk of foot-kicking. Timing is important.

Overturned ochos

Carrying on with this theme - at least, that's my assumption - we worked on overturning forwards ochos.

Basically, the idea is that, if the follower rotates more than 180 degrees during rotation on a forwards ocho, then the effect is that the follower is moving backwards. So, the leader can step forwards whilst leading these overturned forwards ochos.

I assume that this will be developed next week, by adding sacadas to the overturned forwards ochos... Anyway, we spent some time puzzling out this "go backwards by doing forwards ochos" concept, which is a bit counter-intuitive.

Tip: When leading an underturned ocho, the leader should take larger side steps. And when leading an overturned ocho, the leader should take smaller side steps.

What I've been doing wrong, part 66: The leader should not take diagonal steps when going forward; instead, I should rotate my hips appropriately and take sidesteps, to achieve the same effect.

Writeup: Tip of the day

During the write-up phase, Amir recommended that we spend time simply standing on 1 foot - 1 minute at a time - to improve our overall balance.

- David Bailey