Tango course: Week 8 of 8

21st November 2008

Class Date: Thursday 20th 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

"And now, the end is near; And so we face the final curtain..." etc.


The One Where Amir Talks A Lot

Summary: The embrace and boleos.

The start: revision

Some walking, fast and slow, forwards and backwards. We also did a couple of linear giros - we've done those for a few weeks now, actually. No forwards / back ochos, however.

Segregation exercises

Separated - the leaders repeated their exercises as we did a few weeks ago, but adding a boleo-style leg-flick at the end of the last one. More of a gancho flick in fact, but later on Amir pointed out that they're quite similar anyway.

(Aside: a lot of the things Amir's said are to do with how people learn Tango - i.e. the culture of the classes, what to expect, what not to expect and so on. These comments are very welcome, as most of the class are from a Modern Jive background, so "transitional" advice is useful. A bit like this site really...)

Anyway, the girlies did something, well, girlie - I think it was a set of giro exercises from what I saw, possibly with decorations.

Partnering up

We partnered up as usual, did our normal connection exercises.

We then did some work on developing our preparations and intentions, attempting to lead the start of the step (forwards and side), without committing to transfer.

Tip: the preparation part of a step should take longer than the transfer-of-weight part of the step. Which makes sense when you think about it - the transfer of weight is usually very quick.

The Embrace

We spent quite some time going over the various types of embrace - the holds, the hand positions, the body alignments, all the various possibilities.

It was a lot of stuff to take in - this is the part where Amir went into Talk Overdrive, I almost felt I was at a Bianca class for a second - but some of the main points were:

  • A lot of hold is "fashion"
  • It'll vary depending on your relative heights and body shapes
  • Comfort and connection are the main factors
  • There's no single "right way"
  • The hold can and does vary during the course of a dance to fit the steps
  • The closeness of the hold is a "continuum" not a "open or closed" choice. Some holds are closer than others.

We also talked and spent some time practising the "varying of the hold" during different steps - for example, opening-out then closing-up during forwards and backwards ochos.

Tip: Don't lose contact with your partner (with the "embracing arm") when changing hold, because that loses the connection and feels weird.

We did the ocho cortado in close hold to show how some moves are easier that way.

Tip: in the ocho cortado, the first leader step forwards is small,


"At last", I hear you cry.

We started off separated and swinging our legs back and forth, trying to capture a "pendulum" feeling in our working legs - linear boleos, basically.

We did a little move - sidestep then forwards step with extra "oomph", but stopping the lady to give her the energy to move her foot back. Nice simple demonstration of a linear boleo.


We finished off with a routine, using a lot of the sequences and steps we've learnt previously:

  1. Ocho cortado (in close hold), to a...
  2. Sacada with overturned ocho, to a...
  3. Change of Direction ocho, to a...
  4. Back-side-forward media giro, to a...
  5. Circular clockwise boleo with follower stepping forward over leader's right foot, to a...
  6. Step backwards and gancho, to a...
  7. Collapse


We then got several demonstrations to finish it all off.

All in all, and excellent course, I'm glad I did it.

Amir's doing a workshop on Sunday 30th November - details here.

- David Bailey, 21st November 2008