Tango Topics | Social Dancing Tools

Cross Body Incrementals

Let’s get something out of the way immediately, ok…a few things: This particular Tango Topic is a Tango Topics phrase. Meaning that you’re not going to find it in any tango class with any other teacher. Secondly this topic refers to a class of vocabulary that isn’t particularly sexy to talk about, “talk” being the operative word. Thirdly after watching the video above, you’re going to ask yourself, “what’s the point ?”. And you’d be right to ask that question. It’s actually, almost quite boring to watch. Watching it is one thing, doing it on the other hand, is radically different, and it sooooo vicseral in it’s application that you’ll want to spend all of your time doing nothing but just because of the way it feels when it’s done properly.  And that right there is the key component. Doing it properly.

To be clear a Cross Body Incremental is not necessarily the topic that makes you go, “WOW!!! OMG!! I want THAT!!!”. It’s just not. And yet, this particular topic is quite literally every. single. thing. about tango that you find to be fun, intimate, and absolutely delicious at the same time. It’s that good. So yeah, on the outside looking in, not so much. On the inside,  doing it….OH MY F*CKING GOD!!!! So without further adieu, today’s Tango Topic - Cross Body Incrementals.

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

What is a Cross Body Incremental ? In its simplest form a Cross Body Incremental is motion that is generated from Opposition, which results in the Follower’s leg extension across the meridian line of the couple, usually to the opposite side. The distinction between Cross Body Incrementals and a ‘step’, is that there’s typically no weight transfer at all in Cross Body Incrementals. Where it gets its name from is the fact this is all about, say it with me, ‘incremental’ motion. Meaning you don’t have to do this all at once but rather in tiny little bits, which typically match the beat, or an 8th or 16th note in the music (this is NOT shown in the video). So what’s the Cross Body part if it’s just incremental motion ? Isn’t that kinda like Traspie ? No, for two reasons. In Traspie, which is typically employed in Milonga…typically, there is a slight weight transfer. In this instance, there is no weight transfer. Secondly, in Traspie, the motion is usually (very often) linear. Meaning ? That the Lead will invoke the Follower to extend their leg backwards or forward, or side in linear fashion. In this instance, the Follower is being asked to extend and oppose across the Lead’s body, and across the couples meridian line in close embrace. So in essence while it may appear to be a Traspie. It is anything but!

Difficulty Rating:  (2.5 / 5)

Following Perspective. Cross Body Incrementals rely heavily on you, and your ability to listen and to respond appropriately, and if we drill down a bit more, it’s all about your technique and the execution of that technique. You’re going to believe, erroneously so, that there’s really nothing to the Cross Body Incremental, and wonder why on earth you need a video on this stuff, right ? So let’s address this, there is a very specific aspect to the Cross Body Incremental that not only makes it work, but makes it so frakkin’ delish that your Leads will absolutely love you for it. Once they learn to lead this stuff properly, they’ll want to engage the Cross Body Incremental constantly SIMPLY because of how it feels to lead YOU to do so! The key there is ‘once they learn to lead …’. That’s it right there. That’s the beginning, the middle, and the end of it. However, you as a Follower can still make this stuff feel absolutely frakkin’ amazing in spite of the fact that Mr. Lead isn’t actually leading this stuff but rather ‘indicating’ that they’re leading it. Which happens more often than not. They think or believe that they’re doing one thing when in fact they’re not. Which creates LOTS and LOTS of confusion for you and for them.

The Two Things You Have to be Aware of ?

The reality is that there are actually 3, and a 4th if we’re being persnickety, which if you were a paying subscriber you’d actually get to read about below. But because you’re not one, that information is quite decidedly hidden from you.

The two most important things you have to be aware of are:

a.) Responding to the Opposition … PROPERLY.

b.) Lifting or bending the knee to extend the leg.

Bent knees aside for the moment, let’s deal with the first issue: The Responding to the Opposition part. The fact is that a good portion of the time you, and your lead (this isn’t just a Follower thing, it’s both roles) both respond poorly to Opposition, either in the case of the Lead not leading it, or in this case as it relates to you not ‘following’ it, and as a result you end up perpendicular to each other, almost in a Follower’s Calecita, as shown here >

Back to the bent knee thing, the fact is that a lot of teachers (this one included) seem to propose that you can not and should not bend your knee at any point along the step process. And that’s just not the case. The reality is that the knee must bend. Absolutely, we just want to minimize that bend as much as possible and to clean it up so that it’s not so …. ummm … ‘bendy’, but rather we want to accentuate the line of the couple. But that’s a topic for another day.

The Oppositional Key. This stuff only works with the use of Opposition. Learning to lead it, and in your case, understanding that you as a Follower must match that Opposition and then go a little further. Quite decidedly wrapping your body around your lead, without transferring your weight to do it. However, if Opposition is not present, you as a Follower, have 2 choices. 1.) You can continue on as if nothing happened, because … well, nothing happened. If it’s not led, then why would you do anything, right ? Or 2.) You can superimpose the implied idea of Opposition onto your lead, which is akin to being an  ‘Active’ Follower, and really edging towards being a  ‘Delicious’ Follower. Ideally we want the second one for a variety of reasons not the least of which is it makes you a very desirable Follower. However, you can rightfully manufacture something that isn’t there so you have to work with what you’re given, or in this case, not a whole lot.

The Fine Print. For the Follower this is all about Legs and feet. And in specific how closely you place your foot next to your Lead’s without actually engaging a weight transfer. If you extend too far away from the Lead’s foot, you’re going to create a bit of a problem for yourself. Which is, however far away you go, you’ll have to retract that extension. Further still, the further away (on the linear) from your body’s natural meridian (the longitudinal axial line) that you go, the more difficult or unstable you will become. So, in short, closer to the Lead is better. Muuuuuch closer. To be clearer, today’s Tango Topic does go over in intricate detail the requisite Follower Technique in 3 different sections of the video: Opposition, Legs, and Feet, separately, detailing each area.

fun ? spice ? variety ? watch these videos!

Leading Perspective. The key component here is really Opposition. It’s the engine of this tool and technique. If you want mastery over this piece of vocabulary, you must master your Opposition first and foremost. Every Lead that sees this stuff leaps to the wrong conclusion that this is all about using their arms to pull, push, and then twist the Follower this way or that. And that’s not the case at all. As a matter of fact, you don’t need your arms in any way, shape, or form as shown in the video above. Which begs the question, how do you keep the Follower ‘with’ you if you don’t use your arms ? What about the La Marca Lead ?

Keeping the Follower with You ? This is not accomplished by pulling the Follower into you as a Lead. This is accomplished by foot placement, yours, not theirs. This is also accomplished by constant maintenance of this idea. Meaning that you’re always, always, always managing the space between yourself and the Follower’s position to keep them in front of you. That means lots and lots of micro adjustments with every step, and very precise, and absolute control over listening to where the Follower goes, and not watching where the Follower goes. That means ‘feeling’ their body in proximity to yours and through yours. For those of you that are Intensive Level Students this should sound vaguely familiar. This is proprioception! (follow the link if you don’t know what that is) Feeling where the Follower is in space and time and making the necessary micro adjustments that allow you to Lead X, Y, and Z without making it seem like you’re pushing and pulling, because you’ve already adjusted to their physiological position.

The ‘La Marca’ Lead. In this instance, your skills employing La Marca as a way of indicating X, Y, and Z do not work here without pulling and pushing. You may think or believe that that little but of pulling the Follower into you to ‘mark’ X, or ‘Y’ helps you here. It doesn’t. It actually creates more problems than it is worth for the simple fact that this isn’t about marking a step, it’s about employing Opposition. So La Marca ? Not so much with that.

The Opposition Part. While this is the engine of the motion, controlling this stuff is absolutely crucial to your success. Too much Opposition and you end up with the Follower thinking or believing that you’re engaging turn and you lose the incremental parts. Not enough and the Follower is wondering what on god’s green earth you’re asking for! There is a fine line here, and you must learn to exploit that fine line at all costs. This is no mean feat. It something that takes time, patience, and lots of understanding to do and to do well. Not to drill the point home, but this is one more reason why you need a video on this stuff. 

The Pink Elephant In The Room. The fact is that for a lot of leads regardless of the vocabulary that the believe they are leading, they don’t actually lead it. The ‘indicate’ said vocabulary. And their indication is more like a head nod in a specific direction and their arms employ lots of tension and force to reinforce that ‘indication’. This is not desirable. At this point, if you’ve been paying attention to what Tango Topics is on about, you’d rightfully stop and ask the question, “Wait, isn’t that just ‘Intention Based Dancing’ ? No. It’s not. Typically what happens in Intention based dancing is that the whole body is engage in the execution of that Intention. In Indication, it is as described above. They’re light years apart from one another. At the same time, indication also has a slippery slope attached to it. And that’s the fact that there’s a lot of starting and stopping going on. Meaning ? That a Lead will start an idea and then immediately stop that idea forcing the Follower to figure out the confusion of the ideas, meanwhile the Lead has moved on to the next idea and so on and so on….This is NOT desirable.

dancing in a small space ? watch these videos!


A few paragraphs ago, if your eyes haven't glazed over yet, mentioned something about playing with the Follower's Extensions, further still very early on it mentioned something about a class of vocabulary that is unique solely to Tango Topics: Enter the Golden Nugget Extensions. Where this topic leaves off, that video picks up and really plays with all the rest of the ideas that are not touched on here. Playing with Forward steps, back steps, side steps, applied disassociations, all done within the construct of the Golden Nugget of Tango! You should go look at the article on the Golden Nugget, and consider purchasing the Golden Nugget Extensions! It really is the bomb! 😉 There's also a bundled product that gives you access to both the Golden Nugget, and The Golden Nugget Extensions.

The Fundamental Stepping Stone! The only way this stuff works is really Opposition. So it really does work to your benefit to work on controlling your Oppositional skills from a leading perspective as well as from a Following perspective. This particular piece of Tango Topics vocabulary is a further extension of the walking exercise that is presented to every student that comes through the Intensive Training Process. While you’re going through it, you rightfully ask, and point out that no one walks like this! Correct. No one does. But this isn’t about walking, it’s a multipurpose exercise who’s goals are multifaceted. One of which happens to be this piece of vocabulary! So it not only behooves (10 cent word) you to study Opposition but to work on your walk using the Tango Topics Methodology! Ummm in case you’re not clear, that’s a hint to SUBSCRIBE!

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video comes in at 36m:38s in length in 9 Sections. Separate Lead Technique and detailed Follower Technique is explained here in the video.

Section 1 - Introduction - 00:04:26
Section 2 - Lead Technique - 00:04:36
Section 3 - The Weight Change - 00:02:41
Section 4 - Embrace Clarity - 00:00:53
Section 5 - Cross Body Close Up - 00:02:34
Section 6 - Follower Technique - Opposition - 00:05:09
Section 7 - Follower Technique - Legs - 00:03:05
Section 8 - Follower Technique - Feet - 00:04:15
Section 9 - Dancing Ideas/ End - 00:08:20

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

Hello Dear Viewer. If you were logged into Tango Topics right now you'd see a completely different message here. If you had registered as a free user, you'd see a FREE TIP that goes with this article. Something for you to think about it going forward. If you were a paying subscriber, you'd see some notes about the video that go a bit deeper than the 'free tip'. Items that were either not included in the video, or areas that you need to concern yourself that are outside the scope of the article. But alas you're seeing this bullshit message instead of doing the right thing and registering as a free user! Is it that hard ? No. It'll take you all of 30 seconds. And if you're interested further you can always sign up for a subscription.

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you pay for this video, or subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you'll find on Youtube doesn't explain and walk you through the how a Cross Body Incremental works! That’s why! 

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that's what they are, ‘Presentation’ videos. The couples that you're used to seeing are performing for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won't help you, because you're missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. Or you can use this website in addition to your local classes and workshops. 

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique.

In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!

The Last Word. Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a Gold, Gold Plus, or Diamond level subscriber today.

Scroll to top