Argentine Tango Sneak Peak

    Leading the Follower to the Cross in the 8 Step Basic Sequence

A signature step of the Argentine tango is the follower's cross. The follower does a cross -- that is, steps her left foot in front of her right foot -- whenever the leader stays to the right of her for three consecutive steps. Another way to get to the same result is to say that the follower crosses on her second back left step, but only when the leader is to her right side. The follower does not cross if the leader is directly in front of her or to her left, but only when he is to her right. **

The above sequence of 8 steps is commonly taught as the Argentine tango basic step.

THE LEADER steps back (making sure other dancers are not behind him!) and then to the left. Next, he takes two steps to the right of the follower and then steps in place with his right foot (5th step). This step in place is where he leads the follower to her cross. He then steps forward out of the cross with his left leg, steps to the right, and steps in place with his left foot. He is now ready to begin the 8 step sequence again or move on to another figure.

When the partners are to the right of each other, they twist slightly at the waist, so that their chests are facing each other. When the leader takes the 5th step of the above sequence, he straightens out his chest, or untwists, which causes his partner to shift to her right. This shift to the follower's right makes it very natural for her to cross her left foot in front of her right.

THE FOLLOWER steps forward and then to her right. Next, she takes 2 steps backward, then crosses her left leg in front of her right and shifts her weight onto her left foot (5th step). Her weight should be completely shifted to her left foot so that she can smoothly step out of the cross with her right foot. She then steps to the left, steps in place with the right foot, and is ready to begin the sequence again.

THE BREAKDOWN

 1 2 3 4 5 6 78
Follower does: Forward
(left)
side
(right)
back
(left)
back
(right)
cross (left in front of right, shift weight) back
(right)
side
(left)
feet together
Leader does: Back
(right)
side
(left)
forward (right,
to outside of
lady's right)
forward
(left)
feet together forward
(left)
side
(right)
feet together

** Very experienced followers do not automatically cross, but only cross when led to do so. However, on the social dance floor, the cross is ubiquitous, lead or no lead. There are many instructors who believe that it is a disservice to say that the follower's cross is automatic, but it may be unduly burdensome for beginners to trouble themselves with this distinction so early in their tango education, especially since -- correct or not -- 95% of leaders do not lead the cross.

When the leader steps to the side
of the follower, he steps very close
to her. In this picture, leader's feet
are right next to follower's. This is
the 3rd step of the sequence.
    

A different angle on the 3rd step;
Here the follower is taking the
1st left step back. On her next left
step back she will cross her left
foot in front of her right
and will shift weight to the left foot
to arrive in cross position

The complete 'webbook' on Argentine tango currently has four classes with chapters on ochos, grapevines, poses, boleos, embellishments, exercises, rocking turns, advanced figures and styling. In all, over 90 pages of instruction using online videos, stills and text.
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Level 1 Table of ContentsLevel 2 Table of Contents
Level 3 Table of Contents
Level 4 Table of Contents

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