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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.

 
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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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