Tips for Anibal and Hosanna’s cool ganchos

Anibal and Hosanna taught a fun workshop Friday night about ganchos. I had a great time. Here are a few tips to make the movements they taught easier. I’m not describing the sequences here, there were plenty of video cameras in the room. I’m just adding some tips for making them work.  If I use terms you don’t understand, see tango terminology and vocabulary of tango movements.

Concept #1: From back cross: Follower’s forward gancho (wrap) to leader’s open step. (Compression for gancho is With)

  • Followers should not automatically unfurl from crosses. The direction of unfurl must be led. This means that leaders generally need to lead the next direction (before stepping!) and that followers should listen for direction not presume one. [[Sloppy leading and compensative/presumptive following get us all into the bad habit of not being attentive in this moment which, if we honor it can provide many opportunities for interesting alternatives.]]
  • If the follower is trying to automatically unfurl (or even worse, to step) the leader will try to stop her. This introduces tension into his embrace which will prevent him from being able to move into the position required for this wrap.
  • This wrap requires that the leader move very close to the follower and around her, while she stays more or less still (in the unfurled cross). Followers must understand that not everything the leader does is a step. Again, if she responds to his moving closer by trying to step, he will have to introduce tension to hold her, which will then prevent him from being able to get to the necessary position. To make the change of embrace and step around her, the leader must completely relax his embrace. The follower needs to mirror this change. If she has tension she will block him from getting close to her. (Changing tension in the embrace was the topic of my workshop on 14.4.2013. You can read the notes here.)

Concept #2: From parada stopping follower mid-step: Follower’s back gancho to leader’s open step. (Compression for gancho is With)

  • As in #1, this movement requires the leader to relax completely his embrace (shoulders and elbows) so that he can move around the follower and the follower must mirror this relaxation to allow him to move. It’s ok if the leader has a little tiny tension in wrists, to reassure her that he wants her to stay there, but not so much tension that he blocks his own movement from one side of her to the other. (This would be the very smallest end of the continuum of “freezing“.)
  • After being stopped in parada, followers must peacefully await the next thing, with enthusiasm in the form of active leg muscles (toes, calves, and corkscrew muscles in both legs) ready for action! They should not assume they will immediately step or forcefully collect, but wait for something cool to be led, with cool and stretchy readiness.
  • To lead a With back gancho, the leader should try to place his foot close to and parallel with hers, with his hips aligned facing nearly the same direction as hers. then compress onto the leg near her, sliding his hips around her ass. His pelvis will be very close to but not quite touching her.

Concept #3: From a shared axis turn (mini-colgada) with follower in side extension: Follower’s forward gancho (wrap) to leader’s crossed step. (Compression for gancho is Contra but could also be With.)

  • In order to maintain position during the colgada pivot, follower needs to maintain a long stretching sensation continuous from adductors up through oblique muscles. Do not allow hip of the base leg hip to collapse. (You know you are collapsed if your pubis is touching your inner thigh.)
  • In all forward pivots and wraps, followers have a tendency to bring the free leg through too soon. This is ugly and clunky. Keep your leg/foot slightly behind your hips after the pivot, then relax all three leg joints so that your leg comes forward with a soft motion. You will feel much prettier!
  • In crossed ganchos and wraps, the leader must keep both legs corkscrewing outward (ballet 4th position) for stability and to keep the opening available for her. If his back leg is not corkscrewing, he will be unstable and also his knee could drop inside and get in the way of her wrap.
  • Given the complex forces of this sequence, it’s possible that the wrap may end up happening in a slight volcada. To keep the wrap light and elastic, both parties should ensure that their hip bones do not sag forward of their rib cage.
  • To position himself to receive a wrap in a crossed step, the leader must have his knee bent (to make the hole she will wrap through) and his chest forward, but his hips back! Be sure to use corkscrew legs. This is a tricky position that you’ll need to get used to. Also he must be sure to create a soft stretching feeling throughout the embrace (dorsals, pecks, and triceps all stretching) to gently decelerate and receive her forward motion in the wrap.
  • If the leader makes a With wrap, he has the option to transfer weight completely to back leg and lift the front leg to create double gancho.


I want you to know that you are not alone…

… neither in your dreams for tango nor in your frustrations.

My deepest desire is the same as all my students and friends … those who have yet to start dancing and those who dance a lot.

It’s partnership.

One thing I’ve learned on this quest, we need to:

Stop Waiting for Partners, and start Building them.

I’ve written a 10-step Action Plan.

Are you ready to find the Partners you want?



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