The Structure of Tango
Part I: Cross Steps and Open Steps
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Introduction: At the end of this class, you will find that no matter which foot you are on or what system (Parallel or Cross) you are in that you will always have at least 9 steps that you can execute.
In Tango classes, teachers often teach figures or patterns. These can be fun and give students something to do when dancing. I think of figures as sentences and all the figures that we do during a song as paragraphs. In this class, we are taking a step back and looking at each and every step we take as a word. And each of those steps will have a beginning, middle, and end. Our goal is to make every single step that we take in tango count.
There are 3 basic steps of tango: the Open Step, the Forward Cross, and the Back Cross.
A Cross Step is defined by the orientation of the man and woman to each other. Whenever a couple takes a step, if they both stop in the middle of their step and turn (pivot) so that their hips face one another and their legs are crossed (twisted) then they are taking a cross step. If their legs are not crossed then they are taking an open step.
Cross steps can move in only two directions forward and back, but Open steps can forward, side, and backwards. In fact, Open steps have a 180 degree range of movement.
At any moment in the dance, both the man and the woman have these 3 steps available to them and when you combine these possibilities in both Parallel and Cross Systems starting on either foot you end up with 36 possible steps.