The Linear Boleo
There are many types of Boleoes such as the Circular Boleo and its variations (high, medium, and low), the Social Boleo and its variations, as well as the Contra and With variations on these ideas. Typically most people when they hear the word Boleo they only conceive of the Contra High Boleo that is done in performances. Why ? Because it’s the flashy, sexy one that ‘kicks’ high in the air! That’s why. It’s pretty simple, Boleo = “kick” in their minds. “I want to kick like that…”, as has been said by many of Followers that see these things. What many don’t realize is that a.) Both the Circular and the Social Boleos are built off of the Follower’s ability to have already mastered their disassociation skills and then to apply that disassociation, and really the Follower’s ability to employ clean, clear, consistent Linear Ochos or Traveling Ochos without using their Leads for stabilization or to push off of in any way, shape, or form, and how much work that goes into it, but none of that matters. The only thing that matters is the “Kicking” part! It looks fun and cool. Sigh.
There is, however, another variety of Boleo that almost never, ever gets talked about, which is not built off the Follower’s ability to disassociate, or applied disassociation, or Linear or Traveling Ochos! In fact, this Boleo is built off the one thing that every Follower is already doing, and continually working on: Their Walk! This Boleo requires an understanding of the Follower’s Backstep in all of its myriad of complexities. And if you’re thinking that there is no complexity to the Follower’s backstep, then you, my friend, are living in a fantasy land and have never ever done the work that a good portion of Followers have already done. The role of the Follower’s work in their walk is a lifetime pursuit of diligence and attention to detail to make it cleaner, sharper, crisper, easier….etc. As such this Boleo is built on that work and requires a few things in order to function properly. So let’s get into what is called a “Linear Boleo“.
A little backstory: The word Boleo comes the root Spanish word “Bolear” which roughly translates into English as “To Throw”. Boleo is the first person singular, meaning “I throw”. From a Tango perspective, the Boleo is one of Tango’s four displacements: 1.) Ganchos. 2.) Wraps or Enganches. 3.) Sacadas. and 4.) Boleos. The Boleo barely classifies as a displacement here because typically the displacement is when the Lead generates a displacement they tend to take the place of where the Follower was in the displacement.
What is a Linear Boleo ? Firstly there are many varieties of Boleos. Tango Topics is only talking about 3 very common ones: Social, Circular, and today’s topic: The Linear Boleo. To be clear there are low linear, midrange linear, and then there are the high Linear Boleo. So what is it ? This is a lifting of the leg (Lead or Follow, typically though it’s the Follower’s leg) that tends to be sent straight back and up. This is why they’re called “Linear” Boleos because they’re in a LINE with the walking step. In this version of the Linear Boleo, we’re exploring a Mid-Range Linear Boleo or what Tango Topics refers to as a Mid-Height Linear Boleo.
What’s the difference between a High Boleo and a Mid-Range ? The difference is in its application within the Line of Dance. In a High Boleo the Follower is reaching for the stars, as it were, trying to get their leg as high as possible in response to what’s being led. Typically there’s a tiny little problem with this idea. a.) They tend to be rather painful if you haven’t done the necessary exercises to help with extending one’s leg that high into the air. b.) They tend to disrupt the line and lane of dance because they’re misled in the wrong place (tsk, tsk, tsk). The Follower and the Lead in question quite literally forget for an instance that the Follower is in 3 in. heels for just an instant. And that instant is all it takes for there to be blood on the floor, and someone’s heel impaled into someone’s body parts! So the Linear Boleo that we’re talking about today is a mid-height boleo and doesn’t or shouldn’t really be too energetic or too high. It’s just above waist hight and a little beyond.
Difficulty Rating: (3.5 / 5)
Tango Warning. The Linear Boleo, while it can be one of the more interesting pieces of tango vocabulary, it is also true that it’s one of the more physically demanding pieces of Tango Vocabulary for the Follower. It can be oodles of fun to do, the fact of the matter is that unless certain things are present in the Follower as default physiological behavior, then more than likely the Follower can and will injure or hurt themselves or others. So the reason this warning is here to create a little caution in you that just because you’ve read a bit about Boleos (what’s below), and watched a video that shows you the end result of a led Boleo does not magically make it that you can do this stuff. No. The reality is that the Boleos take time, patience and lots of practice to get right. They don’t just magically happen all on their own. There’s a reason why they happen (3 actually), and there’s a way to prepare you to do them so that you don’t cause yourself or your partners injury…ever.
From A Following Perspective you will be asked to do many things in Argentine Tango, but first and foremost, the thing that you absolutely have to do is learn how to walk. Learn how to walk forwards, how to step side, and finally learn how to extend the leg backward without the dreaded 😉 “lazy foot issue” or clear supination, and in all cases how to land your foot and transfer one’s weight.
Your weight transfer must be stable. It must be clean. It must be clear. Without wobbling, wavering, and without you holding on to anyone or anything. It must be independent of a Lead, which is contrary to what you’ve probably been told repeatedly. As time passes, you begin to put one foot/leg behind the other you’ll do this in a pair of heels (ok, much later on). Later on ????? What ?????? Why not right now ? Because like it or not, ‘Heel’ work takes time to master. This is not a skill that you magically master in under 5 minutes. You’ve learned how to walk forwards in a pair of heels as an adult, perhaps ? And that took a while to really get comfortable doing. Tango’s walk is no different. Walking backward in a pair of heels is a whole different ball of wax on multiple levels. It’s been said that the Follower’s walk is akin to walking on the head of a pin while holding a glass of water trying not to spill it, while trying to be as quiet and elegant as humanly possible. The Follower’s Walk, and really their back extensions, and weight transfers are a different way of maintaining your balance and stability in heels. As that is the case, you first must learn the structures of how to walk without them, and then learn to replicate those ideas without thinking about it. Then slowly, and very carefully add the heel into the equation once your balance and stability issues have been cleared up. That entire process can take upwards of a year at minimum without the heels in the equation!
Let’s face it, the heels, and really the shoes are the bomb! We get it! They’re pretty! They sparkle (mostly). They can be quite elegant. So don’t mishear this line of reasoning above or misinterpret that we don’t want you in heels, that’s not what’s being said. What’s being said is that you must learn to walk independently of the heel first and foremost, learn how to hear/feel your foot against the floor without anything between the skin of your foot and the floor itself (and that includes ‘practice shoes’ by the way, socks work just fine or hadn’t you noticed!). You must learn how to generate your center of balance, learn how to listen to your feet while walking in relation to that balance point, and where and how to land your foot against the floor. Gradually learning all the places where you are stable and where you are not. What parts of your feet you want to take your weight and what parts are the weakest and why. And then, only must later on, after you have refined that walk, then you add the heels and not before. It should be noted that walking in a pair of heels (forwards) is not only detrimental to your physiological health, long term but as you have noticed your foot ends up in this really weird position, nerves get injured very easily, and after awhile, unless you’ve been properly trained (and even then some) you can really only walk in a pair of heels for a few hours because your feet are either numb or they’re in so much pain that the only thing you can think of is to take them off! It should be noted, that’s walking forwards in a pair of heels. The Follower’s walk in Tango is as you know is backward in a pair of heels! Important Side Note: The walking-training that Tango Topics is yapping about above is precisely what we teach in our Follower Technique videos!
However, no one ever listens to this advice and in the end they end up damaging their arches, their metatarsals, and their achilles tendons. But what do we know…right ?
The thrust of this stuff is to learn to extend your legs in such a way that they generate clean, clear, straight lines without injuring yourself in the process. That the weight transfers aren’t wobbly, but rather stable, and sure.
So why are we going on and on about learning how the Follower must learn how to walk first and foremost ? Because that walk, believe it or not, is a Linear Boleo in a very rudimentary way! It’s just that the walk is interrupted at a very specific point, and then as a result of that interruption the Follower is led to ‘launch’ or ‘throw‘ their leg (that’s why they’re called ‘boleos‘), and as a result of that throwing, they leg lifts (see: The Free Leg below) in a straight line away from (the ‘With’ Boleo) the Lead or towards (the ‘Contra’ Boleo) the Lead and we have our Linear Boleo. Magic!
All that seems simple enough. Hahahahaha. There are some problems with the Linear Boleo that we want to address which is why we went all ad-naseum on the Follower’s Walk! The primary issue is one of Stability in the Linear Boleo. If the Follower hasn’t mastered their walk (backwards) and they need a Lead to hold on to, to stabilize themselves in their walk, then guess what ? While the Linear Boleo can happen, the Follower will more than likely injure themselves and potentially their Lead! So this is why it’s an absolutely imperative that the Follower master their walk first and foremost before they even attempt the Linear Boleo. Secondly the Follower may have this want to ‘bow’ their leg outwards in the Linear Boleo….tsk, tsk, tsk.
Thirdly, the Follower may have a Forward Tilt issue that may occur, whereby as a direct result of the Follower wanting to ‘throw’ their leg behind themselves (without the proper training) that they’ll tip forward. 🙁 This is not desirable.
The Free Leg That Swings. There has been some discussion over the years of exactly what the Free Leg (for either role) is and is not. When it comes to the Linear Boleo we have to talk about that Free Leg just a little bit. Because unlike the Follower’s Backstep which is definitely, and decidedly powered by the glute and the quad. The Free Leg is a state that only happens for about a nano-second before it is powered or directed somewhere else. Really we’re talking about the leg sitting in the hip-socket and being allowed to move freely in a linear or lateral or any degree of rotation fashion, so that the leg and the full weight of the leg ‘hangs’ in the socket, while the hip remains level with the floor. That ‘moving freely’ is commensurate with the direction that we’re moving in or the direction we want to move in. There are some that will disagree with this descriptor. However more than likely they can’t argue with the fact that at some point the free leg is no longer free, that at some point in the transaction of free to weight bearing the leg must flex! Why are we yapping about this ? Because in the Linear Boleo the Free Leg is free for more than a nano-second, it is allowed to swing freely for a slightly longer period of time, and then at a certain point, it is powered. Boy is it ever! That powering is [paid] what Tango Topics refers to as ‘Striking The Match‘ ? WTF is that ? That’s where the Follower quite decidedly feels the impulse to throw their leg, and then uses their quad to move their leg backward, quickly, in a straight line as if they were continuing to walk backward but without the weight bearing aspect. While doing so they keep the pad of their foot on the floor as long as they can while moving their leg backward magnifying the swing and making it a controlled swing or a controlled explosion of movement. (see video/pic)
if you were a paid subscriber you would see an explanation video of the thing that powers the Follower’s Free Leg Swing! But instead, you’re seeing this really annoying message reminding that this site isn’t free and you might actually want to subscribe to learn about this stuff. So here’s a pic of the video that you’re missing! 🙂
The Follower’s Choice. You’re going to freak out. It’s going to happen. Especially the first few times that you do this. Why ? Because you’re sending your leg backward with force and launching it into the air. The freak out part is that you don’t want to hit anyone, or anything and thereby look like the proverbial village idiot in doing so. 🙁 So believe it or not you do have a choice here. You can not do the Boleo. That’s right. You read that correctly. Contrary to what you may have been told by every male Lead and a fair number of female Follower teachers, the reality is that you always have a choice. Always. You can choose not to do the Boleo. If you do not feel safe. If you do not feel taken care of by the Lead, meaning that they’re managing the dance with you in a way that maintains the couple’s distance from other objects (tables and chairs) as well as other couples and they maintain a safe distance from those things at all times. If you do not feel comfortable in their embrace. If they are manhandling you (even though the Linear Boleo has a small, very tiny amount of man-handling going on). If the Lead is being forceful, or completely unaware of their vocabulary choices, and space they’re occupying. If any or all of that is true, you have a responsibility to not give the Lead what they’re asking (insisting really) for. Why ? Because you believe that it will either cause yourself or those around you harm. You know the reality of that fact that you’re in 3-inch heels. And those things are like lethal weapons in the wrong hands. So rather than impale someone, thereby sending them to the emergency room, you do not engage in the Boleo. To be clear, what may end up happening as a direct result of this stark and clear refusal to Boleo is that the idiot that you’re dancing with (and yes, at this juncture they’re an idiot) they may (ahem) ‘raise their voice a bit’ by either repeating the same lead again over and over again, several times, or they’ll actually use their voice and say something like “don’t you know the boleo ?”. Which may result in the dreaded Teaching-You-How-To-Dance moment on the floor, which as you know is not wanted or warranted or even socially acceptable. Tsk, tsk, tsk. To which your only social response is either, “I don’t feel comfortable doing them right now” or to say nothing at all and move on to the next thing that’s being led, and then at the end of that song to say “Thank you!“. There is another a way out of this dilemma of how to follow an energetic lead into the Linear Boleo (or any Boleo for that matter), and that’s to make that Boleo as small as is humanly possible. It solves the problem of getting the Lead off your back. This is, again, entirely your choice. Do the Boleo, or don’t do the Boleo, but that’s entirely up to you. And don’t let anyone ever tell you anything different!
A Controlled Landing. With all Boleos, not just the Linear variety, the Follower doesn’t just want to drop their leg when the Boleo completes itself, but instead the Follower wants to control how the Leg comes back down, and then cleanly and clearly brings their feet back to either collection, or passing through collection into the next movement. 🙂
The Follower’s ‘Gotcha’ with Linear Boleos! Probably the biggest ‘Gotcha’ with regards to almost all Boleos is understanding the cues for the Boleo to occur. This is not something you can learn in 5 minutes and it magically happens. No. There are different cues for different types of Boleos. In the case of the Linear Boleo it’s the time and energy to produce this stuff. Not to guilt trip you but if you were a subscriber, you’d see FIVE corrective pieces of information right here. But alas you’re not. So, instead, you’re getting this really annoying message to remind you that this stuff isn’t free, and if you want to make any real change in your dance with this stuff reading about it for 5 minutes and watching a 2 minute video snippet from a 2hr and 57 minute video that could literally change your dance isn’t going to help you. However seeing as how you’ve come this far, and aren’t really reading, you’re just clicking on the videos….here’s one more on the 7 Common Errors of Boleos:
From a Leading Perspective, let’s get a few things out of the way before we dive into the Linear Boleo. First and foremost is the space required for one of these things. It’s not small. It’s BIG! Secondly, this is one of the only times in Tango Topics diatribe about not using your arms, where you do actually use your arms for about 2 nano-seconds but in a very small, tiny, almost insignificant way. Thirdly, the Linear Boleo is all about leading the Follower to their walk. It just so happens that their walk is interrupted, by you. That interruption is the Linear Boleo!
However before we can even get to the Linear Boleo, we, as Leads, must learn how to generate our walk in relation to our Follower’s walk. Meaning ? The advice listed above about how the Follower’s walk must be stable, clean, clear, without wobbling, or holding onto anyone or anything, without invoking supination in one’s walk, or landing on the 5th metatarsal of the foot but instead the 1st, not to mention invoking a measure opposition is absolutely required. Go back and re-read the Follower’s advice and replace the word “Follower” with “Lead”, and you’ll notice that same advice applies to you! So if you skipped over that section above, go back and read it. What ? Did you think that was just for the Follower ? Think again!
If you were a subscriber, you’d see the actual technique video here, instead of this annoying link to the product that doesn’t really show you anything other than this picture and the price tag, not to mention some flowery language to get you to buy the damned thing. Just subscribe, it’s cheaper and easier!
Before we go any further we have to talk about a few things that is absolutely crucial to the Linear Boleo construct:
1.) Your posture. This is one of the only times where we’re going to say to you, “You want to break at the waist“. There’s an exception to every rule, and this is it. However that ‘break’ is not a tilt forward but rather a stopping point where your feet land, and instead of ‘planking’ you do actually have to break at the waist point to allow the arms and hands to contain the energy of the led Linear Boleo.
2.) Compression. Meaning that if you are squeezing the Follower with your hands, and using your arms in to direct the Follower in the walk that leads up to the Boleo, then you’re quite literally a.) Forcing the Boleo out of the Follower. and b.) Making it damned near impossible for them to do what you’re asking of them! Which is to say, “Stop Using Your Arms!!!!“. Ahem. This statement is meant to reinforce the gravity of the situation. This is one of those times when we quite literally need to scream at you to stop pushing and pulling and using your hands. Just STOP! Why ? Doing so, quite factually stops the motion of the Follower. That’s why! So if you want the Follower to Boleo, then you need to allow them the ability to move freely, to allow them to respond to what’s being led, and then to resolve cleanly without you pushing and pulling and using your arms and hands!
3.) Insistence. Dude, this is really simple. Lead it once, and let it go. Do not stand there and try to lead this 17 times hoping that the Follower will get what you’re on about. You know what the definition of stupidity is ? Doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results! This is also the definition of insanity too. Same difference 😉 Which is to say, lead something once…and if it doesn’t work, let it go. Insisting that the Follower perform a Boleo repeatedly, any Boleo, is just rude. Not to mention, but we will anyway, lots and lots of physiological work for the Follower! Remember that the choice to Boleo, even though you led it, is always, always, always up to the Follower! Always. Just because you led it, does not mean that the Follower MUST do it. Quite the opposite. The Follower has a brain, contrary to what you might believe, and they can make up their own mind whether or not they want to Boleo for any number of reasons. Please see The Follower’s Choice above for more information.
4.) Space. The Linear Boleo takes up OOODLES of space!!!! This is not something you want to lead on a busy dance floor. Truth be told you want to lead it away from the line of dance, at a 45 degree angle actually and really only on the corners. If you have the space, meaning a gap has opened up in front of you and the couple ahead of you doesn’t have a history of backing up, and there is the available space to engage in this idea, then sure…go for it. However, you really do want make absolute certainty that you have the space for these things, and that means an exceptionally egregious to the point of being overly cautious and zealous amounts of space for the Follower to extend their leg back and upwards. 🙂
5.) The Beginner Follower. Not. Just not. Not even the dancer that’s been dancing a while. Not even. Not ever. The Boleo is one of those things that you really do have to train for, it’s a whole different ball of wax. Even though it’s a straight line back with the leg, it still has the clear potential for harm. So unless said Follower has been dancing a few years and is wholly cognizant of their own body in space and time in relation to the other couples on the floor and their own technique and you’ve witnessed them performing a Boleo now and again, then sure, go right ahead! Otherwise: DON’T. EVEN. TRY! Got it ?
How to Lead the Boleo. There are two basic steps to leading a Linear Boleo and quite honestly while showing you the steps is easy, the thing that will baffle you and confound you for a wide variety of reasons is the second of those issues.
There are two basic forms that a Boleo can take: 1.) Contra. And 2.) With Boleos.
These ideas can then be executed in any number of ways. You also have the option of executing these independent of each other. Mostly when we hear the word Boleo we are more familiar with the Contra variety than the With variety. A Contra Boleo, as a reminder, goes against the direction the Follower or against their physiological inertia. Meaning that you as the Lead, are going to move in the opposite direction of their direction. That moving opposite of them is what creates the Boleo. Secondly, there is the With Boleo, meaning that instead of going against the Follower’s motion, that we instead use their motion to ‘Throw the leg’ or Boleo, this is called a “With Boleo” because you’re going with the direction of the Follower.
From these two ideas, you can create a limited range of Linear Boleos. Oddly enough the steps to reproduce the Boleo in every Contra and With Boleo are exactly the same. It’s a matter of position really. In the case of the Linear Boleo it’s knowing that the there’s a quite a bit of information that you’re not seeing because you’re not a paying subscriber. 🙁 The reality is that there’s a bunch of information that’s currently being hidden from you here. So instead of seeing this annoying message to subscribe, you’d actually be educating yourself about how to Lead the Boleo and what to watch out for you. I know you want all the free toys, and as a registered user you’re going to get one. Truth be told you’ve already gotten a few of them, you just haven’t realized it.
The Three Components to every Boleo are:
1.) The Ocho or Back Step. Nearly every Boleo that you will ever dance (either lead or follow), is built off of or uses a variant of the Follower’s Ocho with the exception of the Linear Boleo which is built off the Follower’s Backstep. This is one reason why it is absolutely crucial for the Follower to have mastered the practice of Disassociative Ochos, and really their walk, which is what Tango Topics teaches. This type of Ocho is far more elegant and useful than the push/pull/resistance or “Pivot” based Ochos that are typically taught and danced.
2.) The Sending Cue. This is the reason why a particular type of Boleo occurs in the first place. Every Boleo has one. In the case of the Linear Boleo, that cue is something that, quite literally, goes against (contra) or with (with) the motion of the Follower, which generates the necessary torsion for the Boleo to occur.
3.) The Rebote. The word ‘Rebote’ is a Spanish that translates (roughly) to the word “Rebound” in English. It refers to the resolution of the Boleo, and to a lessor degree the Ocho, back to facing their Lead. Every Boleo has a Rebote in some form or another.
About The Video. This video is 2hrs:26m:20s in length in 11 sections. Both lead and follower vocabulary is combined and integrated in the video. There are two sections devoted specifically to the Technique that is required for both roles for nearly all Boleo types.
Exercise – 00:14:43
The Free Leg Exercise
The Controlled Leg Exercise
7 Common Errors – 00:18:37 (above)
5 Common Follower Errors
2 Common Lead Errors
Follower Technique – 00:24:46
The Walking Steps Reminders
Follower Linear Ochos
The Follower’s Appreciation Step
Basic Boleo Technique
Striking The Match (above)
Social Boleo Technique
Circular Boleo Technique
The Follower’s Rebote
Follower Leg Control
Lead Technique – 00:28:34
The Lead’s ‘Lead’
The Timing Issue
Setting Up The Contra
Setting Up The With
Linear Boleo Technique
Frozen Boleo Technique
The Rebote Principle – 00:05:15
Deeper Contra/With Boleos – 00:16:28
With Boleo Clarity
Deeper Rebote Principles
Contra & With Boleos Together At Last
Embrace & Posture Reminders
Linear Boleos – 00:18:52 (see library)
Sending The Free Leg
The Contra Linear Boleo
The Frozen Boleo Idea
The Embrace Question
More Frozen Ideas
Linear Boleo Advice
Boleo Examples – 00:10:57
Related Videos Mentioned In This Article:
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