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Steps for the Social Dance Floor

This series of classes focuses on popular steps for use on the social dance floor. We have compiled a list of popular moves that we have seen used by some of the very best Argentine Tango Dancers. If you travel to Argentina and visit some of the milongas, you will see these moves being used by the Milongueros. Here are some of the criteria we used for putting together these steps:

  • They keep you moving in the line of dance without disrupting others.
  • They are musical and express the rhythm of Argentine Tango.
  • They are full of expression without being flashy or dangerous to others.
  • They feel great to the leaders and the followers.

While these moves are great for tight spaces and crowded dance floors, they also require a high degree of skill, balance and communication between partners.

Intro to Barridas, Pasadas y Paradas

A Barrida (a sweep, a drag) is the dragging of a partner’s free leg during a Caminata (walk) or Giro (turn). During this series, we will examine the proper technique for leading and following both external and internal Barridas in both open and close embrace. During the class we will also look at Paradas (stops) and Pasadas (passovers). Barridas are also known as, Arrastre (sweep, sweeping) and Llevada (carried, carrying).

4 Parts of a Step
Each step that we take in tango consists of 4 separate parts. Imagine that your supporting leg is your right leg, meaning that your weight is completely on your right leg:

  1. We send our free leg (left) to find the floor where we are about to step
  2. We begin to transfer our weight to our new supporting leg (left)
  3. We finish transferring our weight to our new supporting leg (left)
  4. We collect our new free leg (right) next to our supporting leg (left).

Practice finding and feeling all 4 parts of a step by taking slow, deliberate side steps. Feel every moment of the step.

Barrida Technique
Barridas are largely about positioning. While walking or turning the leader wants to stop his embrace while the follower is between her steps, so that she is mid-stride with her legs apart. He then positions himself over his new supporting leg, without shifting his embrace which might cause her to complete her step. He then uses his free leg to find the leg he wants to sweep. He leads her to transfer her weight to her new supporting leg and sweeps her free leg. Once he has completed the barrida he should lead her to settle her weight over her new supporting leg and to collect.

Tips:

  • Triangles - We are often forming triangles when we do barridas. Notice in the video, if you look at the 12sec mark, when the the barrida is being initiated we could form a triangle by drawing a line from the mans left to the woman's left to the two left feet. Then when the barrida is executed the triangle would simply flip, seen at the 15sec mark.
  • The leader wants to find the forward part (toe area) of her free foot with the forward part of his foot. He does not want to go in too deep. See Image 1 below.
  • The leader starts with his free leg’s knee bent and straightens it during the barrida. His supporting leg should be bent slightly, so that he can be grounded and very well balanced during the barrida.
  • Once the barrida has been initiated, the follower wants to apply just a tiny amount of pressure against his foot, so that she can easily stay with him. This would include going up into the air with the feet.
  • Technically the barrida is usually an illusion. The leader is leading her to step and it only appears as if her foot is being dragged, but it is nice to have enough pressure so that the drag is felt.
  • The leader should turn to get the hip of his free leg close to the hip of her free leg. This should result in his supporting foot being parallel to her supporting foot. See Image 2 below.
Image 1
Image 2

Figure 1: Simple Sacada

  1. We start out this move with back crosses (ochos). When I lead her back cross to the open side of the embrace, I initiate a barrida with my right to her right.
  2. I then lead her to take weight on her right. My weight is still on my left and I don't collect.
  3. I lead her to take a forward cross step, passing over my right foot (pasada) as I take weight onto my right. We pivot to return to our neutral position.
  4. We could do an arrepentida to return to line of dance.

Figure 1: His and Her Sacadas

  1. We start out this move with back crosses (ochos). When I lead her back cross to the open side of the embrace, I initiate a barrida with my right to her right.
  2. I then lead her to take weight on her right, while I collect my feet around her right foot (mordida / bite).
  3. I leave her on her right while I switch weight to my left and then lead a back cross to the open side of the embrace (my left side and her right side) for both of us.
  4. As we complete our back crosses, I lead her to execute a barrida to my left with her right and switch weight to her right. In the video, notice the triangle we create at 1:19. Also, leaders need to adjust their left foot at the end of this step to give her more room for the next step.
  5. Now, I lead her to take a forward cross step over my left foot, as I pivot and take weight onto my left foot creating a sacada to her right foot.
  6. We pivot to our neutral position as I switch weight to my right so that we end in parallel system with me on my right and her on her left.

 

Part II:

In this second part, we look at paradas which are stops and happen whenever we stop our movement for any length of time and pasadas which happen whenever one partner has to step over (pass over) the other partner's foot or leg.

Figure 1: Basic Parada Sequence
We started by looking at a very basic parada sequence.

  1. The sequence begins from back crosses (ochos). When the leader leads the woman to a back cross to his right side he stops her (parada) mid-step and extends his right foot to find her left foot. He wants to put the forward part of his right foot to the forward part of her left foot, not going in very deep, just right at the toes. 19 sec of video
  2. He then takes weight on his right and steps around with his left to face her. His feet collect around her left foot creating a mordida (bite). Again, his left should not go in deep and the contact should only be at the forward part of the foot. 40 sec of video
  3. He then switches weight to his left and steps back and around with his right bringing her forward onto her left. At this point she should have her feet surrounding his left foot (mordida). Notice in the video that when I step back Shelley just comes straight forward onto her axis but no further and the I don't lean back, but rather keep my upper body over my hips while I settle my weight onto my back leg (right). 52 sec of video
  4. At this point, she is facing me so if I were to lead her to take a forward step she would have to walk into me, so I pivot her counter-clockwise. She is still on her left foot. Then I lead her to take a forward cross step over my left (pasada) and around me with her right as I take weight on my left. 54 sec of video
  5. Then I lead her to pivot and to take another forward cross as I return to my right. We are back in parallel system and can walk out.

Figure 2: Basic Parada Sequence with Barrida
This figure is the same as the one above only we add a barrida (sweep) at step 3. To accomplish this, at step 1, we must make sure that we stop her (parada) with her weight all the way back onto her right leg, so that her left is free to sweep.  1.30 mark in video. Then we step around with the left and sweep her left with our right. 2.07 mark in video.

Tips:

  • Triangles - We are often forming triangles when we do barridas. Notice in the video, if you look at the 2.38 mark, when the the barrida is being initiated and when it is completed.
  • The leader wants to find the forward part (toe area) of her free foot with the forward part of his foot. He does not want to go in too deep. See Image 1 below.
  • Once the barrida has been initiated, the follower wants to apply just a tiny amount of pressure against his foot, so that she can easily stay with him. She should also keep her foot on the floor and not to take it up into the air unless the leader takes his foot up in the air.
  • As the follower's foot is being swept, she should pivot on her supporting foot to keep her hips and upper body facing in the same direction as her foot that is being swept. 3.03 mark in video

Figure 3: Basic Parada to the Leader's Left with Barrida

This move uses a very similar technique as the other moves only we are starting with a parada to the leader's left (open side of the embrace). Then we are stepping more around her so that we can sweep her right foot to our right foot. 4.02 of video

 

Part III:

Figure 1:
Parada and Barrida from Follower's Forward Cross

Tips

  • At the 1.19 mark, the leader stays on his left foot while leading the follower to switch weight to her left at the cruzada.

Figure 2:
Forward Sacada to Forward Cross to Parada and Barrida

Tips

  • At the 1.47 mark, notice the proper barrida technique of finding the forward part of her foot with the forward part of your foot. Don't go too deep with the drag.
  • At the 1.54 mark, notice that as I rotate my chest that my left foot pivots with me to provide stability.

Figure 3:
Barrida to Colgada

This figure is for more advanced dancers who already know the proper technique for leading and following colgadas.

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The Rhythm of Vals I

Vals is one of the rhythms that we dance to at Milongas (Tango Dance Parties). This class will focus on understanding the rhythm of Vals, how to incorporate your existing steps into Vals and new steps that fit nicely into Vals.

Synopsis: This class focuses on using Cross Steps in the rhythm of Vals.

Teachers: Clint Rauscher & Shelley Brooks

Video Demonstration:

Figures:

Dual Molinete or Giro
20 Second Mark of Video Demo
Description: All in Cross System, MBC & WBC + MOS & WOS + MFC & WFC + MOS & WOS
Tip 1: This move is usually repeated twice and works best with a quick quick (Double Time) on the MBC & WBC + MOS & MOS then slow slow on MFC & WFC + MOS & MOS.
Tip 2: After the Back Crosses and Forward Crosses both the Man and Woman collect their feet and Change Weight instead of taking real Side steps.
Tip 3: This is a very circular move, so the Man and Woman should very much step AROUND the other never stepping away from one another.
Tip 4: Do Not skimp on the Forward Crosses, take real forward steps around each other.. not tiny ones. The Man’s Forward Cross can also go deep to get a Sacada.

33 Second Mark of Video Demo
Description: MFC & WBC in Parallel System + MOS & WBC in Cross System: Man performs a MFC and the Woman a WBC and the Man collects and changes weight to his Left and pivots the Woman clockwise and perform a MOS & WBC in Cross System, The Man then collects and changes weight to his Left and REPEATS from beginning.
TIP 1: The Man always collects and changes weight to his Left on every step. He is always stepping with his Right.
TIP 2: The Man always steps with his Right on the downbeat and is double timing every step. The Woman is not changing weight with him, she is just stepping on every downbeat.

Drunken Ochos
12 Second Mark of Video Demo
Description: In all Cross System, MOS & WBC + MOS & WBC + MOS & WBC: From Back Ochos in Cross System, as the Man leads the Woman in a WBC to the Open Side of the Embrace, he takes a tiny step forward with his left turning counter clockwise 90 degrees. Then he takes a large Open Side Step (MOS) with his Right as he leads her to a WBC to the Close Side of the Embrace. REPEAT
Tip 1: This is all in Cross System and the Man and Woman are both stepping on the downbeat of the music.
Tip 2: The turn happens with the Man’s Left foot, his Right foot only goes side ways.
Tip 3: The Leader must lead ochos which require the Woman to pivot, not walking or non-pivoting ochos.

Arrepentida with a Cross Over Step. This is a very musical move and is very helpful for changing directions if you need to in order to avoid a collision with another couple.

Figures:

Figure 1: Arrepentida with a Cross Over Step
In Demo at :28 of Video Demo
In Slow motion at 2:36 of Video Demo

Step 1: The man takes a Side Step with his left and does a quick weight change to his right (double time). The woman takes a Side Step with her right. They are now in cross system.

Step 2: The man then takes a Forward Open Step with his left to the open side of the embrace and leads the woman to take a Back Cross Step with her left. His upper body is turned slightly clockwise to her.

Step 3: The man then takes a Forward Cross Step with his right to the open side of the embrace but does not complete that step, rather he rebounds off of his right as he steps back and counter-clockwise with his left. This results in a change of direction of about 180 degrees. Then he crosses his Right foot in front of his left. The woman takes a Back Open Step and then rebounds off of her right foot and takes an Open Side Step around the man with her right foot.

Step 4: The man changes weight to his right foot which is now crossed in front of his left. Both the man and woman collect.

Step 5: Repeat Step 2

Step 6: Repeat Step 3

Step 7: Repeat Step 4

Step 8: Repeat Step 2

Step 9: The man takes a Forward Cross Step with his Right and leads the woman to take a Back Open Step with her right and to perform a Forward Cruzada and to change weight to her left. The couple is back in Parallel System.

Tip: There are double times (quick-quick-slow) for the man on steps 1, 3 and 5. There is a double time for the woman at step 9.

Tip: On step 3, the man needs to contain the woman and give a lot of energy to the rebound and to bring her around in the change of direction. He does going slightly down in his right leg to get more energy from the floor for the rebound. He also makes sure not to collapse his embrace. he needs to keep his embrace solid so that she does not get behind him.

Tip: On step 3, the woman should feel the man lower in the rebound and that should be an indication of a large step coming. She will need to take a large side step around the man in order to stay in front of him.

Turn (Giro) to the Open Side of Embrace with Sacada

Synopsis: This class focuses on a Simple Turn to the Open Side of the Embrace with Man's Sacada.

Teachers: Clint Rauscher & Shelley Brooks

Video Demonstration:

Figures:

Description:

Step 1: The man takes a Forward Cross to the Open Side of the Embrace while leading the  woman to take a Back Cross (MFC & WBC) and Leads the Woman to collect.
Step 2: He then leads the woman to an Open Step (WOS) with her Right while staying on his Right.
Step 3: He then leads her to take a Forward Cross while he steps in with his Left for a Sacada (MFC & WFC).
Step 4: He then stays on his Left, leaving his Right floating behind, while pivoting 180 degress and leading her to take an Open Step (WOS).
Step 5: He then steps forward with his Right with a Forward Cross (MFC) to the open side of the Embrace while leading her to take a Back Cross (WBC).

Tip: The man takes 3 steps and the woman takes 5 steps.
Tip: Many women want to change weight at step 2 instead of taking an open step. Between steps 1 and 2, the women simply collect, no weight change.
Tip:
For the women, they want to stay in front of the man, so they user their default Giro/Turn (Molinete) technique to do so. This move uses their basic Giro technique... Their steps are Back, Open, Forward, Open, Back. They default to their basic Giro/Turn technique.
Tip: At step 1, the man does not collect his feet but rather shifts his weight over his Right foot which causes the woman to collect her feet. He waits until she has collected before he leads her to Step 2. He also stays with his upper body rotated towards the woman.
Tip: To begin step 2, the man rotates his body counter-clockwise staying on his Right foot. The follower wants to stay in front of him, so she defaults to her Giro Technique and takes an Open step.
Tip: The man will drops down slightly to ground himself when performing the sacada and should stay there for balance while pivoting 180 degrees to his left.
Tip 4: At the point of the Sacada, the man should start sending his upper body to his left away from the follower and then let his lower body catch up on step 5.

Turn (Giro) to the Open Side of the Embrace from Cross System

Synopsis: This class focuses on a Turn to the Open Side of the Embrace starting from Cross System on the Close Side of the Embrace. As embellishments, we looked at a forward circular boleo for the woman and back cruzadas for the man when getting into and out of cross system.

Teachers: Clint Rauscher & Shelley Brooks

Video Demonstration:

 

Figures:

Figure 1: Turn to the open side of embrace from cross system on the close side of the embrace with back cruzadas for the man and a forward circular boleo for the woman
In Slow motion at 2:44 of Video Demo

Step 1: The man takes an open step to the side with his left leg and the woman takes an open step with her right leg. She collects while he crosses his right foot behind his left (cruzada) and changes weight. At this point, he is on his right and she is on her right so they are in cross system.

Step 2: He then takes a forward cross step to the close side of the embrace and she takes an open back step.

Step 3: He takes an open side step while she takes a back cross step. On this step, the leader relaxes the embrace and brings her perpendicular to him. The man's right shoulder and her left shoulder are connected but they do not have contact on the open side of the embrace and are at a 90 degree angle to one another. At this point, he can make slight contact with his upper right thigh to her upper right thigh and lead her to perform a boleo.

Step 4: He steps back with his left but keeps weight on both feet as he begins to turn his embrace counter-clockwise.

Step 5: As he pivots around counter-clockwise, the woman will feel slightly left behind at this point and so will take large steps around him to try to get back in front of him. To start she will take a long forward step around him with her left and he will end with his weight on his left foot.

Step 6: The woman will continue to try and get back in front of him by taking a large open side step with her right. The leader will bring his right foot behind his left and change weight.

Step 7: Same as Step 2 above.

Step 8: Same as step 3 above, but now he brings her back in front of him. They are still in cross sytem so he can exit in cross system or switch weight to return to parallel.

Tip: On step 2, the man should pivot his upper body slightly counter-clockwise to make room for stepping to the close-side of the embrace.
Tip: On step 3, the man needs to open the embrace and bring her to a 90 degree angle to him and contain her in front of him by blocking her with his right arm. He is not applying pressure with that arm but merely creating a stopping place for her so that she stays slightly in front of him.
Tip:
On Step 4, he should stay very forward in his upper body and bring her around with his embrace. Since she wants to return to the embrace and get back in front of him she will take a nice large step around him. She will not step away from him. Look at how close her left foot is to his at 2:51 of the video.
Tip: On Step 5, at the beginning of step 5 she is still not 100% back in front of him so she continues to take a large open side step. MEN: If she takes small steps on 4 and 5 and is slightly to your right then you might want to stay on your left and exit to the open side of the embrace in parallel system.

Variations:

SIMPLEST VERSION OF THIS MOVE
At 23 second mark of Video
Figure 2: Same as Figure 1 only the leader does not perform the back cruzadas and they exit simply in parallel system.

Figure 3: Same as Figure 1 only the leader does not perform the back cruzadas, he simply changes weight.
At 16 second mark of Video

Barrida to Cruzada with Different Exits

A Barrida (a sweep, a drag) is the dragging of a partner’s free leg during a Caminata (walk) or Giro (turn).

Teachers: Clint Rauscher & Shelley Brooks

In this class, we looked at executing a barrida (Sweep) to a front cruzada (Cross) with different exists.

Step 1: Barrida to Cruzada with giro (turn) to the Open Side of the Embrace

  1. We take a side open step to the open side of the embrace. As the man transfers his weight to his left leg, he initiates a barrida with is right foot. To initiate the barrida, he applies a little pressure to her left foot with his right foot and she returns that pressure which allows her to follow his foot past the collection point and to the other side of her foot creating the front cruzada.
  2. Now he transfers his weight slightly to his right foot which leads her to put weight onto her left foot.
  3. Then he transfers his weight slightly to his left and begins turning counter clockwish which leads her to begin a side step around him. As she begins her open side step around him, he performs a low forward sacada with his right leg.
  4. As fully commits to his right and continues the counter clock wise turn which results in a basic giro for her (back side cross).

Step 2: Barrida to Cruzada with Foot Lift during Barrida and Exit in Cross System to Front Cruzada

  1. During the Barrida, the woman's foot should be symbolically glued to the man's foot, so if he lifts his foot she should go with his foot.
  2. After the Sacada, we are in cross system, so we simply exit to a basic cruzada in cross system.

Step 3: Barrida to Cruzada to Volcada with Gancho

This move seems so simply, but it actually includes many advanced ideas of Tango. It actually includes (in order): Barrida, Front Cruzada, Colgada,  Volcada, Gancho, Colgada, Back Cruzada, Volcada.

  1. The first two steps are the same as above, a barrida to a front cruzada
  2. But as I lead the front cruzada, I actually invade her space very slightly to send her into a very very slight colgada (Off-Axis Hang) as I bring her bring her around in a circular counter clockwise motion back forward into a Volcada. I keep the circular motion going until I get a gancho.
  3. After the gancho, I reverse the circular motion to go clockwise and send her back past her axis to a very slight colgada. Again I keep the circular motion going and then bring her forward again to get a back cruzada.
  4. I keep bringing her forward after the back cruzada into another slight volcada... just enough to free her left foot.