Sacada is a displacement. One dancer enters the other’s step, arriving to the place their partner just departed.
Most sacadas are perpendicular steps, but there is a special case of walking-sacada, which has its own entry.
Either partner can be the entrant or the receiver. In a Mark’s sacada, he enters the Revel’s step. In a Revel’s sacada, he marks her to enter his step. (Regardless of who is entering, the Mark is still marking.)
Like every move in tango, sacadas have a geometry. Sacadas require that we create an obtuse angle (more than 90 degrees) with our steps. If we step at an acute angle (less than 90 degrees) we will either crash or feel cramped.
The entrant will step directly toward the receiver, landing between the legs, with their foot very close to the one the receiver is departing from. (Circled in yellow in the triptych below.)
The receiver will step 90 degrees from the line of the entering projection. Note that stepping away from the entrant also generates a little bit of elastic power which helps to make the entrant’s step stronger. This power also supports the entrant’s pivot, when needed.
Chicho teaches that the Mark’s step should have a slight inward curvature along its perpendicular trajectory, while the Revel’s should be linear. (This applies regardless of whether it’s a mark’s or revel’s sacada.) This makes a subtle softening of the sensation of the sacada.
How to step
Here are the operational specifications of how to do a sacada, in order. Do one thing at a time, in order!
- A little extra power during projection Both dancers need extra muscle power in the base leg to prepare a powerful and smooth step and to adjust their base leg into the necessary external rotation relative to the next projection. (This means they flex the knee and hip a little more, or just contract the quadriceps muscle.)
- Intention/projection As in any movement in which the partners will be going in different directions, the mark must show the Revel her direction first (regardless if it is a Mark’s sacada or Revel’s sacada)
- Change of embrace As in any movement in which the partners go in different directions, we must allow for lateral shoulder-flexion to change the embrace. Do NOT use any vertical shoulder flexion! (Note that in Revel’s sacada, the mark must show direction toward him for the projection, but must be careful not continue to move the embrace in that direction (vertical shoulder flexion) during the step. As he steps, he makes only lateral shoulder flexion.)
- Establish the arch before pivoting back toward the partner The embrace will relax to enable the perpendicular movement, but as you arrive, look for the arch of connection before pivoting back toward your partner. Revels be careful not to add any unmarked/automated pivot, as this destroys improvisational possibilities.
Here’s a slow motion video showing the controlled projection and simultaneous transfer.
What happens to the newly free leg that is displaced?
When receiving a sacada to a side or back step, the revel’s free leg may fly with the power of the mark’s motion. She must absorb his power only into the movement of her free leg and not allow her arc to be affected.
Generally, a Mark’s sacada to Revel’s side step will result in planeo (her toe makes an arc on the floor). A mark’s sacada to revel’s back step will send her to passe. The revel should not presume the next direction, and must be ready to move in any direction, including side step.
These adornos are not the result of the mark striking the leg. He may or may not strike the leg, but regardless, her response should be a function of the amount of power he sends through her body, not the strike or lack of it. If he makes a very gentle and slow sacada there may be no adorno or even pivot.
If he puts a little more power, she will need to intensify her arc.
Revels should also take care not to try to add ganchos to sacada. (See notes about the distinction below.)
The key to smooth back sacadas is following all of the technique rules of front sacadas, emphasizing:
- Excellent back projection and transfer of weight technique for both entrant and receiver (extend the backwards projecting free leg’s knee and contract its quadriceps strongly so that you can shift the hips back without pulling the torso (and your partner) backwards).
- When receiving a Revel’s sacadaa the mark must not flex the shoulders laterally, as this prevents correct transfer of weight and pulls her upper body prematurely.
- When completing any back sacada, the Mark should look for support from the Revel’s arc at the end of the step.
- Check your geometry!
Sacadas are combinations of front, side, and back steps.
The way to find all the variations of sacada is to consider that the entrant will step either front or back, and can do so with either foot.
That means the entrant has four possibilities. (Notes: One of those back steps can only be completed by breaking the embrace. A side/open step sacada is a change of character in the open front or back step, so it isn’t counted separately, but we do show this 5th possibility in the first set of videos below.)
The receiver has 6 possibilities: front, back, and side with either foot. We show these possibilities for just one of the entrant’s steps.
This means there are 24 mark’s sacadas and 24 revel’s sacadas.
Every sacada can become a rebote. Interspersing sacadas with sacada-rebote is great for music with strong heavy beats.
If the entrant steps close to the receiver’s new base leg instead of the old base leg, the sacada will become a gancho or piernazo. Remember to close the embrace. (Ganchos are almost always in close embrace.
Exits from sacada
There’s always another sacada… Other options:
When sacada enters a front step, the receiver’s leg doesn’t do anything special, but if the receiver doesn’t promptly pivot, it means they leave their ass toward the partner, and this is an easy setup for that receiver to now enter a back sacada (or back gancho). Another variation from a sacada to front step is to continue the pivot to front gancho (shown below).
When sacada enters a back step, the receiver’s leg exits to front projection. From there: front voleo (shown below), back gancho (shown below), front cross (advanced).