May 192013

We did two workshops today, first in forward sacadas and second in backward ones. The second workshop built on the technique from the first one.

There are 48 sacadas. Once you know correct technique for one sacada, you can explore them all.

What is a sacada?

Sacada is displacement. It is an accelerating step in which the person making the sacada moves on a vector that takes them exactly through the axis space of the other person, just as the other person is vacating it. The vector is important because the vector of power should continue beyond the location of the person. (If the power decelerates, we will have instead a nice parada.)

It’s only a sacada if the partners transfer their weight at the same time. If the leader has already changed weight, it’s not a sacada.  

The way we count the sacadas is to consider that the person doing the sacada (could be leader or follower) will either go forward or back, and can do so with either foot. That means the person doing the sacada has four possibilities. (In the case of making a sacada the side step is a change of character in the open forward or back step, so it doesn’t count separately.) The person receiving the sacada has 6 possibilities: forward, back, and side with either foot. This means there are 24 leader’s sacadas and 24 follower’s sacadas.

Geometry for smooth sacadas

Like every move in tango, sacadas have a geometry. Sacadas require that we step 90 degrees (or more) away from each other. If we step at an acute angle (less than 90 degrees) we will either crash or feel cramped.

The person doing the sacada will step between the legs of the other person, with their foot very close to the foot their partner is departing from.

How to step

A perfect sacada is really a perfect normal step. If your sacadas are choppy and rough, probably your steps are too, but the sacadas make your mistakes more obvious. Here is the operational specification of how to do a sacada, in order. Do one thing at a time, in order!

  1. Both dancers need flexion, before you move. Please now follow this link if you aren’t 100% sure what flexion is. If you don’t have this, your sacadas will be harsh.
  2. The leader shows the follower a direction 90 degrees from his intended direction and the follower projects in that direction. (Projection is beginning to extend your leg and pointed toe in the indicated direction, without moving your spine.)
  3. The leader drives off the base leg. The power of the leader’s body moving is enough to move a connected follower, without any necessity for the leader to pull or push on her with his hands. (Indeed if he does pull or push, she will step too soon, causing the sacada to crash.)
  4. Both parties need to relax the embrace fully in order to arrive (and let each other arrive) at a position far from each other. Both need to establish the base before pivoting.

Forward Sacadas Exercises

1. One leader’s forward sacada followed by one follower’s forward sacada.

Main correction: Followers do not make the leader hold you back before your sacada. Hold yourself, be tranquil and beautiful. Not everything you feel is an instruction to step, it’s not even all for you! Don’t make everything into a step! If the leader has to hold the follower back, he will not be able to execute the sacada because he will not be able to pivot and flexion to be ready to step in the correct sacada geometry.

2. Look for the 24 forward sacadas

You can make your own system for searching. Let the follower help.

3. Improvising with sacadas in space

We can use forward sacadas to improvise moving around each other in a circular manner.

  • Leader makes a forward sacada to each of the follower’s steps in single-giro. (Be sure to suspend after sacada to her back step, to give her power to recover.) 
  • Trading leader’s and follower’s sacadas usually results in a complex circling around each other.
  • The pinwheel. Person doing the sacada does open front step to sacada the receiving party’s forward crossed step. Then switch who is doing the sacada, continue until dizzy.  (Open and crossed in this sense mean whether the partner’s legs are open to the partner or crossed to the partner. Generally we’re not using that terminology in the KnowledgeBase. But this is an unusual situation where it helps.)

We can also use forward sacadas to move in the line of dance.

    • Continuous leader’s sacadas to follower’s back ocho.
    • Continuous follower’s sacadas to leader’s side steps. Leader then switches to crossed position right shoulder toward the follower, stepping forward and back without pivoting, the follower making a forward sacada to each of his steps.

  • We can do leader’s sacadas during giros. Notice that the geometry of the follower’s steps must be different, creating an illusion of giro.



End of class bonus note: Distinction between sacada and With wrap is geometry (leader steps to the leg the follower is going to, rather than the one she is leaving) + power (for wrap his power moves close to her and just around her axis, rather than accelerating past her for sacada).

Back sacadas

The challenge of back sacadas is that there’s so much pivot.

Ok, so we’ll work our way up to the big pivot in a series of exercises.

1. Use the move before to make the pivot.

  • Start with a leader’s forward sacada (either leg) to follower’s forward cross.
  • Do not automatically pivot back to face your partner after the sacada! (This automatic pivot is unled and reduces the opportunities in the dance.)
  • Leader: flexion, big projection 90 degrees from her, and she comes directly back into the sacada. Followers: project before stepping!
  • Reverse it all for leader’s back sacada.





2. Look for ass.

  • In this exercise we just danced, with the leader watching for moments in which the follower’s ass was already toward him, and he can then easily lead a back sacada from these places that are already part of his dance.

3. The two step formula for getting most of the pivot done in the step before.

  • The leader decides who will do the back sacada.
  • That person will do one ocho (can be forward or back) and then the sacada.
  • The person receiving the sacada will take two steps moving along a line. The second step will receive the sacada.
  • The flexion between the receiving party’s first and second step provides the power for the partner  to complete the needed pivot.




4. Improvising on a circle and in a line.

    • Leader can make continuous back sacadas to follower’s steps in single axis giro. He makes one sacada and then uses his change of foot to pivot himself to be ready for the next one. Don’t forget above note about sacadas in giro! 
    • Partners can make continuous exchanging back sacadas to the other’s side step moving in a circle (If you want to exchange back sacadas to the forward or back steps on a continuous rotation, you will both need to take a side step between each sacada.)

  • To improvise on a line making back sacadas as the follower walks backward, the leader needs to move inside the embrace from one side of her to the other. He needs to soften his embrace hugely. He passes from one side of her to the other using a side step, then makes a tiny front step turning away from her as he does. He needs to do this without moving her. He uses the flexion after his front step to initiate her projection and then the partners step at the same time. In the drawing at right, all of the arrow steps are back steps. The follower is basically walking backward. The leader is making a back sacada to each of her steps, with two steps in between each one to move into position and then

5. Follower’s back sacada from forward voleo.

  • This is the movement that requires us to perceive which direction to go in order to keep the embrace. 12 of the 48 sacadas require dropping the embrace to complete the step, and these are sometimes called “4th sacadas”.
  • To avoid a 4th sacada, the leader needs to feel the direction of the follower’s unwinding from voleo, and make his step moving in parallel with her unwind (but away from her to create the 90 degree sacada step). 
  • If the leader feels stuck, that he hasn’t yet got enough pivot around her, he can just take another step in the same direction. Any step will work, as he can receive follower’s back sacada to any step, so long as it has the right geometry.




6. A beautiful 4th sacada

  • There’s no reason to panic about 4th sacadas. If you find yourself unexpectedly in one, just drop the embrace, finish your step and then reestablish the embrace.
  • To create a lovely 4th sacada that’s easy on the follower’s balance, just walk in cross system/3 track. Anytime, you can lead the follower to a side step and make a leader’s back sacada. Don’t change feet before the sacada, you’re already set up! Follower’s back sacadas work just fine here too!


 19 May 2013