Tango Extensions course, Week 1 class notes

22nd March 2010

Week 1 Notes


Review and revise

We reviewed the contents of the Foundations course syllabus:

  • Basic steps: forwards / back, left / right
  • Rocksteps
  • Pivots
  • Ochos
  • Giros

We did a few dances, attempting to use all those elements, including a couple of dances of role-reversal.

This week's topics:

  • Technique: Dissociation
  • Steps: Ganchos


Followers should always dissociate to ensure that your upper body faces the leader. When stepping away from the leader, you will need to twist the upper body to face your leader. This "dissociation" will allow you to pivot without needing momentum.

Dissociation is powered by the lat (Latissimus dorsi) muscles. Try to engage these muscles whilst pivoting. If you dissociate properly, and use the lats, you should be able to pivot at any point and at (almost) any speed.

Key points

  • Dissociate all the time.
  • Dissociation powers the trailing leg
  • Dissociate to the side of the forwards foot (when walking forwards or back)
  • Dissociation is what's used for pivots (ochos)
  • Use the lats to dissociate


  • Exaggerated dissociation during walking
  • Doing ochos, try to pivot really slowly, as this avoids use of momentum or "shoulder swinging" to pivot you around.
  • Forwards and backwards ochos in front of a mirror - keeping the upper body facing the mirror.


We worked on ganchos, leading them from a forward ocho step (to the leader's right), then reversing for a gancho.

We demonstrated the "wrong way" to lead a gancho, and worked on the "right way".

Key points:

  • Leaders: the lead for a gancho is a twist, not a push or a pull - if you push / pull, followers may think you're trying to dip them, or they'll lose their balance because you pull them off-axis. Which would be bad.
  • Followers: dissociation during the forward ocho makes it work - if you turn your upper body to face your partner, it gives him the space to twist you. If there's no dissociation, there's no easy way to twist.

Note: Ganchos are to be treated with caution, and are demanding as a step - they require a lot of technique to get right. So probably best to use these for practice, than for social dancing.


Related articles

- David Bailey, 22nd March 2010