Picture this; A couple dancing. The lady is on her walk backward. For your eyes unexpected, she crosses her legs and finished the step in a crossed feet position, thus starts walking with the other leg. While this little ornament attracts your attention, you wonder that she is not stumbling over her feet. “El cruce” or “the cross”. is the most typical element famous in tango.
It is important to know, the cross is always indicated by the leader when the follower crosses on a back walk. She is not doing that on her own.
An exception to this rule is the cross as an embellishment.
El cruce is the most characteristic element in tango argentino.
Usually, the cross happens during the ladies back walk ending in a weight change to continue with the other leg.
But before we go into different sequences where we use the cross, let’s have a detailed view to understand its technique .
Understand the technique in detail
- It is most relevant to keep the crossing foot very close to the standing leg.
- In finish position both feet are parallel. In a variation or as embellishment the dancers often use a tap with the toe.
- For quick crosses, you will use the rebound of your standing leg.
- Exercise different patterns to create muscle memory. In order to achieve a clean foot position, it is advisable to exercise from zero position forward and backward. It needs some time to create space and fluidity.
- Practice in a back walk left and right, avoid going diagonally.
In a combination with 1 step forward and back using a tap, practice on both sides, forward and backward.
The cross step ending in a weight change.
Let’s check out now where we use “el cruce “in tango.
From the point of musicality, this element is traditionally danced after the first 4 beats in a musical phrase utilizing a pause for a weight change.
On the 4. beat the lady crosses and on the 5. she transfers her weight releasing the free leg to zero.
But dancers use the cross in many other situations and musical interpretations as well.
Furthermore, it is often danced as a single step combination to create a highlight to interpret the music. It can be danced on a forward or backward step.
Crosses are very popular combinations in the milonga rhythm.
Dissolving the cross.
It is possible as well to carry out the movement without finishing the step. Instead of putting weight in the arriving position, the crossing foot returns to the departing position.
In conclusion, the leader dissolves the cross. This all happens only on the indication of the leader.
“El cruce” as a decoration
Leader and follower often use the cross as an embellishment in between the steps. As a result, they have individual possibilities to express themselves in the music.
To use the cross as an ornament requires technique and good musicality to avoid confusion and not disturbing the partner.
Multiple variations to lead and receive the cross .
Build up awareness and sensibility to understand and feel or lead all the differences, which are part of the specific characteristics of Argentine tango, will come with time and practice.
In Argentine tango the couples will not carry out fixed combinations like in ballroom dancing. The leader is the creator of every combination on improvisation.
While there are some common figures in tango existing, they change slightly between different leaders.
With an increasing repertoire and of movements active ( leader ) or passive ( follower), including musical interpretation and flexibility of the feet the couple has more options to improvise.
In the video I show and explain several options for Embellishments.
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