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Sacadas I: Forward Sacadas

A Sacada (displacement) is when one dancer steps into the space that their partner just vacated. In this class, we will look at Internal and External Forward Sacadas for both men and women. We will also look at the difference between Low and High Sacadas.

4 Parts of a Step
Each step that we take in tango consists of 4 seperate 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 transfering 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.

8 Parts of a Step
Now let's imagine that for leaders there are actually 8 parts to every step. Why? Because leaders must also lead the follower in all 4 parts of her step, while he is executing his step. This concept comes into play with many moves such as sacadas.

Practice with your partner, leading her to take a side step around you without you taking a step. Then lead her to take a side step while you take a side step with her, but stop in the middle of your step and then practice leading her in one direction while you go in another direction.

3 Basic Forward Sacadas
In the video, you will see that we show three basic forward sacadas. We can perform a forward sacada with either the right or left feet to the follower's side open step, forward cross step or back cross step.

Basic Sacada Technique
A sacada is a displacement, meaning that we are taking the place of our partner. We are entering the space that our partner has just vacated. To accomplish this, the leader leads the follower to take a step and as she is taking weight onto her new supporting leg, he steps in to the space she is leaving. He should step just inside of her free leg just after the moment that it becomes 100% free of weight. To resolve the step, he should take weight on the leg he executed the sacada with and both partners should return to face one another.

Tips for Good Sacadas:

  • Respect her axis - Do not step in the middle of her step or towards her new supporting leg, as this will disrupt her vertical axis and cause her to loose balance.
  • Don't kick her - Step inside of her step but not on her toes and do not worry about making contact with her leg. There should be little to no contact between the leader's and follower's legs. You are not pushing her leg out of the way, you are taking the space as it is leaves.
  • Hips - The hips should go straight in the direction that you are stepping. The upper body should turn towards her but the hips should go straight and then pivot after the step is complete. Also, when executing a forward sacada to her forward cross or back cross, get your hips positioned behind her hips to give yourself room to step around her. See picture below.
  • Protect the toes - For the women, take a look at the picture below and see how Shelley has the toe of her right foot pointed. She does not leave it on the floor flat to be possibly stepped on. When watching the video, watch how she lifts her toe the moment her leg becomes free.
  • Complete the step - Leaders, finish your step by taking weight on the foot that you performed the sacada with. Don't just stick the foot out and then pull it back. Finish the step by taking the space that she just left.

Figure 1:
Simple Sacada

  1. We start out with the weight on the leader's right and follower's left. We take a side open step for him and a side open step for her. The leader double times this step and switches weight to his right as she completes her side step. Now we are in cross system.
  2. He steps forward with his left as she steps back with her left.
  3. He steps forward with his right inside partner as she takes a back open step with her right. He then leads an arrepentida by bouncing her off her right foot as he rocks back to his left and leads her to take a side open step to the open side of the embrace (leader’s left).
  4. He returns to his right creating the sacada to her open side step. He pivots on his right foot approximately 180 degrees to come back in front of her. He is on his right and she is on her right.
  5. Steps 5 - 8 use our basic turn (giro) to the left to get back to line of dance.

 

Part II:

Exercises:

We start with an exercise by leading the woman in forward crosses (ochos). We want to take our time and lead them very slowly and deliberately.

Exercise 1: As she steps forward with her left foot and takes weight on her left, we extend our left foot as we lead her to pivot on her left. We pause momentarily creating a parada (stop) and then repeat on the other side.

Exercise 2: This is the same as the first exercise, except as she commits to her left foot we extend our left foot into her stride towards her right foot and repeat on the other side. So, when she steps onto her left, we are extending our left towards her left (the foot she is leaving). We are not committing to this step, we are only extending our leg/foot to find the correct placement and timing for our sacadas. We must practice so that we can comfortably lead her to take forward crosses while we extend our legs and remain balanced. All the tips below are things to look out for in this exercise.

Tips for Good Sacadas:

  • Respect her axis - Do not step in the middle of her step or towards her new supporting leg, as this will disrupt her vertical axis and cause her to loose balance.
  • Don't kick her - Step inside of her step but not on her toes and do not worry about making contact with her leg. There should be little to no contact between the leader's and follower's legs. You are not pushing her leg out of the way, you are taking the space as it is leaves.
  • Hips - The hips should go straight in the direction that you are stepping. The upper body should turn towards her but the hips should go straight and then pivot after the step is complete. Also, when executing a forward sacada to her forward cross or back cross, get your hips positioned behind her hips to give yourself room to step around her. See picture below.
  • Protect the toes - For the women, take a look at the picture below and see how Shelley has the toe of her right foot pointed. She does not leave it on the floor flat to be possibly stepped on. When watching the video, watch how she lifts her toe the moment her leg becomes free.
  • Complete the step - Leaders, finish your step by taking weight on the foot that you performed the sacada with. Don't just stick the foot out and then pull it back. Finish the step by taking the space that she just left.

Figure 1:
Simple Turn to the Leader's Left with Sacadas

  1. We start this turn on the leader's right and the follower's left. We lead the follower to change weight to her right and pivot 90 degrees forward. The leader stays on his right putting us into cross system.
  2. As we lead her to take a forward cross with her left, we step forward with our left creating a sacada and pivot to face her. The leader must pivot very quickly here to be ready for the next step.
  3. We then lead her to a side open step while stepping in with our right creating another sacada and pivoting to face her again.
  4. We are still in cross system at this point so we can exit to the cross system basic or back crosses.

Figure 2:
Simple Turn to the Leader's Right with Two Sacadas

  1. We start this by going to the basic cross in parallel system and the leader crosses his right foot behind his left as the woman crosses her left in front of her right. We then lead her to pivot counter-clockwise on her left and to step forward with her right, as the leader steps forward with his left creating a sacada.
  2. We then lead her to a side open step with her left and we step forward with our right creating another sacada. We pivot on our right to return to line of dance.
  3. The leader then switches weight to his left without leading her to switch weight and leads a back cross.

Figure 3:
Simple Turn to the Leader's Right with Three Sacadas

  1. We start this by going to the basic cross in parallel system and the leader crosses his right foot behind his left as the woman crosses her left in front of her right. We then lead her to pivot counter-clockwise on her left and to step forward with her right, as the leader steps forward with his left creating a sacada.
  2. We then lead her to a side open step with her left and we step forward with our right creating another sacada. We pivot on our right to return to line of dance.
  3. The leader then switches weight to his left and leads the follower to a back cross while he steps forward with his right creating a sacada to her free leg (left).

High and Low Sacadas
We also discussed the differences between high and low sacadas. A high sacada is when we displace her free leg above the knee and a low sacada is when the displacement happen below the knee. We always want to make contact either above or below the knee to avoid injury. Also, the contact that is made is very very light and should not be thought of as a push or kick. In fact, often there is no contact at all in low sacadas and a little more contact in high sacadas.

 

Part III:

Figure 1:
Forward Sacadas for Leader and Follower

Tips

  • At the 16 sec mark, leaders tuck their left leg behind their right leg. Don't worry about tucking too deeply. Your left knee should be sitting gently behind your right knee. You should be able to bend your knees slightly while in this position and easily switch weight between your feet without having to displace either of your legs.
  • At the 20 sec mark, I switch weight to my left and do a lápiz (pencil) with my right foot. A lápiz is an embellishment which is done with the leader's free foot and is usually a circular movement which looks like he is drawing a circle on the floor with the inside part of his foot. Lápiz can vary in size from being very tiny to very large. Lápiz are also sometimes called Rulos or Dibujo (drawing).
  • At the 25 sec mark, women should notice how quickly Shelley gets her back toe up off the ground as soon as she completes her forward step. This creates a nice line for her legs and protects her toes from being stepped on.
  • At the 42 sec mark, women should not be afraid to step forward. Often women hesitate when asked to step forward, but they should trust that the man knows what he is asking for and to step straight.
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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

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Embellishments (Adornos) for Women and Men: Part I

Embellishments (Adornos) are small foot, leg or body movements that dancers work into their dance that are not functional, but rather embellish their steps. Since women do not dictate the steps, rhythm or direction of the dance, they use embellishments to express their personality within the dance. Men can also perform embellishments to add flavor to their movements.

Teachers: Clint Rauscher & Shelley Brooks

From Walking

In the video below, we show some basic embellishments which can be accomplished from just walking.

  • El Lapiz (The Pencil)
  • Playful Weight Changes
  • Heel Taps (Taconeo)
  • Tuck and Tap by Him

From a Side Step

In the video below, we show some basic embellishments which can be accomplished from a side step.

  • El Lapiz (The Pencil)
  • Tuck Behind before Side Step
  • Double Side Step for Him

From Back and Forward Ochos

In the video below, we show some basic embellishments which can be accomplished from back and forward ochos.

  • Foot Kisses by Him
  • Foot Kisses by Both
  • Foot Kisses during Forward Ochos
  • Tucks by Her
  • Tuck and Hold by Her
  • Circular Leg Lift by Her
  • Straight Leg Lift by Her

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.
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Colgadas I

A Colgada is when the woman is lead completely off of her vertical axis to lean away from the man. The man also leans back to counter-balance the woman. In this class we will look at Back Colgadas, Side Colgadas and Single-Axis Turns while in Colgada.

Teachers: Clint Rauscher & Lena Hrybok

In this class, we looked at basic colgadas (hangs) initiated from close embrace.

Step 1: Basic Colgada

  1. We start with a side step to the open side of the embrace and I sandwich her right foot.
  2. To initiate the colgada, I move forward slightly, invading her space. Since we can't both occupy the same space she has to lean back. This is very slight and can be seen at :11 sec.
  3. At the same time I relax my embrace and extend my right arm out while I sit back to counterbalance her weight. Notice at :15 that we are not leaning straight back.. we are more sitting back. Think of the analogy of leaning against a bar stool or that your hips are a table with a stack of books stacked to your shoulders. If you straighten the stack will fall over. We have a slight bend in our knees. At this point, her weight should be only on her right foot and my weight can be more evenly distributed. All of her weight should be supported by the man's right arm. She should not be using her left arm at all and the open side of the embrace should not be engaged at all.
  4. Then I just return to my axis and while bringing her back to her axis.
  5. At 20 sec mark we demonstrate a slight change of embrace with the man's right hand shifting upwards slightly to hold onto her shoulder blade. This provides more stability for the woman.

Step 2: Basic Back Colgada to Alternating Side Colgadas

  1. We start the same as in the move above.
  2. Then I send her around to the close side of the embrace as I shift towards the open side. At this point, her hips will stay under her shoulders as will mine (see 1:00) . I am shifted to my left foot and she has now shifted to her left foot (see 1:30).
  3. Then we mirror this movement on the other side of the embrace.
  4. We ready to exit I lead her to the open side of the embrace and step behind and around myself leading her to take a forward cross step in front of me.

 Step 3: Colgada with Shared Axis Turn

  1. We start the same as in the move above
  2. I start the turn by sending my left leg around my partner's right leg, taking weight onto my left and then pulling my right a few inches back to find my partner's toe. Then I switch weight to my right and repeat.
  3. During the move, I think of her axis as being over her left leg. I want to keep her secure and stable over her left leg at all times. If I disturb her axis then she will feel the need to step.
  4. For the women, it is very important for them to remain calm and keep their posture. They must also allow their left leg to be very free, they should not apply any pressure to the man's right foot with their left foot. He needs his right foot to be free to move back and around.
  5. At 1:56 you can see how I am stepping around Lena. My toes are slightly pointed towards one another, inward.
  6. At 1:56/1:57 you can see how I pull my right foot back slightly to find her toe. I do this on every step around.

 Step 4: Side Colgada

  1. We start with a side step to the open side of the embrace.
  2. As she takes weight on her right foot, I put my right foot next to her right foot, so that my toe of my right toe is near the heel of her right foot.
  3. With her firmly planted on her right foot, I  begin extending my right arm. She wants to stay in my embrace so she goes into colgada.
  4. I then bring my body perpendicular to hers and collect my feet. I also go back to counterbalance her.
  5. To exit, I step back and around myself leading her to forward cross step around me. Notice that she very much steps around me, not out and away from me.
  6. At 2:21, we show that we are completely supported by the man's right arm. Her left arm has no weight, but is there for safety if she were to slip. My right arm is all the way around her right side, so I have a nice grip on her side and she should feel secure.
  7. At 2:37, notice my toes are straight and pointing towards her. My right foot is at her heel and my left foot is at her toe. I am completely beside her. When I step back with my left, I am creating more space for her to step around me.