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Round Dance Tips by Tim Eum —

A Few Tango Figures

Criss Cross (Phase 3)

The Criss Cross is a rarely done phase 3 tango figure. It begins with a Walk 2 in Semi-Closed Position (SCP), "snaps" to Reverse Semi-Closed Position (RSCP) and finishes with a Thru, Side, Draw, ending in Closed Position (CP). The timing is SSQQS. Tango figures should be danced without rise or fall. If you "soften" (slightly bend) the knees it will absorb any rise or fall motion. In tango, the lady is held more to man's right side so that when in SCP, it feels like the lady is more behind the man than usual. Note that with the lady behind the man and stepping thru with the trail foot, the lady is stepping thru behind the man's leg -- not alongside. This occurs on step two of the Criss Cross (the second walking step). As you take weight on that second step you quickly "snap" to RSCP. The man must turn his right shoulder toward the lady. If he incorrectly pulls the right shoulder away in RSCP, the lead arms will get "scrunched" and the man's right arm will pull uncomfortably across the lady's chest. When you "snap" to RSCP, you should quickly point the lead foot and hold the point as you turn to RSCP. Then when in RSCP and stepping thru with lead foot, note that the lady's leg/foot will go thru first with the man's leg/foot following behind. If you begin in SCP facing LOD with lead foot free, the Walk 2 is done toward LOD, you turn to RSCP facing RLOD, the thru, side, draw is done toward RLOD, and you end in CP facing wall.

Doble Cruz (phase 4)

Doble Cruz in Spanish means “Double Cross,” and there are two crossing steps among others in this phase 4 tango figure. Many dancers are familiar with the Serpiente, and if so, you can think of the Doble Cruz as a “Walk & quick face and then the first three actions of a Serpiente followed by a quick back run 2 (forward run 2 for lady) turning to banjo.” Here’s a more detailed description: Start in semi-closed position with lead foot free. Step forward slow and then on the second step quickly step thru turning to face partner. Now do the first measure of a Serpiente which is: step side with lead foot, cross in back with trail foot, and then ronde (i.e., fan or flare) with lead foot. In the final two steps the man will quickly cross behind with lead foot and then quickly step back with trail foot turning slightly left-face to banjo. The lady’s last two steps are to cross behind and then quickly step forward turning slightly left-face to banjo. The timing of the Doble Cruz is SQQ; QQQQ; Remember that this is Tango so take each step quickly without hesitation and without rise or fall. Even the “slow” first step should be taken as a quick forward step and then hold one beat. There is an alternate way to do the ronde. Instead of the normal straight leg circle forward and away and then behind, you can keep your knees together and “flick” the lead foot by bending the knee and then circling the foot behind with knees still together. This flicking style seems more suited to tango, since it is a quick movement as opposed to the slow smooth movement of the normal ronde (fan or flare).

Closed Promenade (Phase 5)

Every dance rhythm has a unique feel – tango is dramatic with sharp, quick movements. Slightly relax your knees so that you can stay at one level throughout the dance – there is no rise and fall. Many tango figures are not physically difficult to do, but because tango is not danced as often as other rhythms, remembering the terminology and names of the figures seems more difficult. “Closed Promenade” is simply 4 steps done in SQQS timing. Start in semi-closed position (i.e. promenade position) with lead foot free (man’s left and lady’s right). For the first step, stay in SCP and step forward. Although this is a “slow” step, take it with tango styling by stepping very quickly on beat one and then holding for beat two rather than taking one long smooth two-beat step. Quickly step thru on the second step and then quickly turn to face partner and step side on the third step ending in CP. Finally, close on the fourth and last step taking two beats. For dramatic effect, I recommend holding the first beat, and waiting to do the close till the very last moment of the second beat. One last note – when you close, do not put the feet evenly together but rather end with the right foot toes near the instep of the left foot (i.e. slightly offset from the left foot). The reason for this is, if you really do have a true tango hold, where you have relaxed your knees in CP, your knees will be slightly bent and protruding forward and so will your partner’s. Unless you offset the feet, the knees will knock together. If you do offset the closed feet, your right knee will be tucked in slightly behind your left knee.

Open Promenade (Phase 5)

The Open Promenade has the same sharp, dramatic feel as the Closed Promenade (above). The “Open Promenade” is simply 4 steps done in SQQS timing. Start in SCP with lead foot free (man’s left and lady’s right). For the first step, stay in SCP and step forward. Make it sharp by stepping very quickly on beat one and then holding for beat two rather than taking one long smooth two beat step. This is the same way you start a Closed Promenade. The last three steps however are different. Instead of the “Thru, Face, Close, - “ that you do for a Closed Promenade, the man does a “(forward) Run 3 to BJO” while the lady does a “Forward, Face, Cross in Back to BJO”. Note that in tango, the Open Promenade starts in SCP and ends in BJO. “Open” in this case means “not Closed” (i.e. Banjo). One last note: the BJO position in tango is a little different than it is in foxtrot or waltz. In foxtrot and waltz, BJO often is done with the man’s left shoulder leading. However, in tango the man leads with his right shoulder and the lady is further to his right side. The man’s right arm is also further around the lady and the lady’s body is all the way into the crook of the man’s right arm. The lady’s left hand is “sliced” into the man’s right armpit, which should give the lady’s left arm a sharp, level appearance instead of smoothly following the line of the man’s right arm.


Tim Eum prepared many Round Dance Tips for Calls 'n' Cues, Washington Area Square Dancers Cooperative Association (WASCA), for his weekly Rocket Rounds email report, and for other publications. These tips were reprinted in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, June 2014, and March-April-May 2015.


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