Tango course: Week 6 of 8

7th November 2008

Class Date: Thursday 6th November 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

"To lead a not-pivot, don't lead a pivot" - Amir

"Christ, where have all the women gone?" - David

The start: revision

Yet again, there were two leaders over tonight - despite the fact that I thoughtfully brought a spare follower. Where are the followers going? Is someone kidnapping them or what?

Anyway, again, we started with a review session - forwards and back walking, ochos, etc.

No new insights, technique-wise, just a repeat of previous lessons about dissociation and so on.


A bit variable this time, I thought - some contemporary stuff, Peter Gabriel etc. played. Didn't really get me in the mood some of the time. On the other hand, it made it easier to hear the instructions etc.

Segregation exercises

For a change, we split into leader / follower groups at the start. The leaders firstly reviewed the leader exercises from last week, then we worked on "mirrorred giros" - that is, walking around a shared axis, both doing the same steps (front, side, back).

It was good to work on this; it's really helpful as a dissociation exercises if you're both stepping back at the same time. If you don't dissociate then, you're in trouble...

Partnering up

We got together, briefly did the normal connection exercises, steps and so on.

We then focussed on leading ochos - both overturned and underturned ochos, forwards and backwards, and changes of direction.

At this point, the "To lead a not-pivot, don't lead a pivot" phrase was used - in other words, you don't have to actively lead someone not to pivot. In other other words, pivots must always be explicitly led; no pivot lead -> no pivot follow.

Tip: leaders, if you take a smaller sidestep, this helps increase the pivot angle for the followers. Similarly, to reduce the pivot angle, take larger sidesteps.

Step 1: Two ochos

We did a two-step pattern, which involved using this "size of sidestep controls the rotation" concept in practice.

  1. Forward ocho, large side-and-round step:
    Lead the lady into a forwards ocho to your left, and make a big sidestep to the left and in front of her, so you end up facing her and blocking her line of dance.
    Tip: if you ensure you start off slightly in front of the follower before the step, it's much much easier to step around her.
  2. Pivot the lady clockwise on her left foot, rotate around her, then lead her to step back.
    Tip: Don't do it too fast or too furiously, or balance goes.

From the follower's point of view, it's a forward ocho, then a pivot, then a step back.

The angle of rotation in step 2 can be up to 180-degrees; if you can get to 180, it's a lovely straight-line motion.

Amir then demonstrated how this can also be done in three other ways:

  • Forward ocho to right with anti-clockwise pivot, then step back
  • Back ocho to right with clockwise pivot, then step forwards
  • Back ocho to left with anti-clockwise pivot, then step forwards

Our collective brains then fried...

Step 2: Ganchos

Last week I said:
If I were bold enough to predict again, I'd say that we'd be expanding on that to do sacadas on each step of that pattern next week...

Ooops... Oh well, at least I'm consistently wrong.

So, new step! We worked on ganchos this week, using overturned back ochos (or, alternatively, the back step of a giro) as a starting point.

We separated out again into leader / follower groups, to get the basic form of the steps correct, then came back together to work on the technique.

The pattern is:

  1. Lead the follower into an overturned back ocho (to the right, and back), pivoting as you do
    Tip: Followers shouldn't step away from the leaders when stepping back; they should end up the same distance away from the centre that they started on.
  2. Once the follower has placed her back (right) foot down, leaders should place their right foot over the follower's back foot - ideally, right heel raised, and directly above the follower's right toes.
    Tip: It's easier if your right foot describes a (horizontal) anti-clockwise lapiz pattern to do this - basically, putting your foot forwards then following it backwards.
  3. Finish the step with a small amount of extra energy, which allows the follower to gancho with her left leg, around the leader's right leg.
    Tip 1: The back of the follower's left thigh should be in contact with the front of the leader's right thigh.
    Tip 2: If the follower's left leg is too far away (laterally) from the leaders, this step becomes more difficult and uncomfortable.

Coming Next Week...

James Bond will return, with.... Boleos.

- David Bailey, 7th November 2008