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Simple Sacadas 2018

The Simple Sacada. This video has been in the works for a looooong time. It’s actually taken 4 tries over a 3 year period with 3 different partners to get anywhere close to passing what I had in mind, and it may be revised one more time, but for the time being, this is the final form of what Tango Topics calls a “Simple Sacada”.

Argentine Tango has many, many different pieces or types of vocabulary (moves, steps, patterns, and figures) that can be developed as a way to express the music in the dance, so that you see the music in visual form. One of those pieces of vocabulary is what we call a “Sacada”. You see them all the time in various forms, and probably because they’ve become commonplace you don’t pay a whole lot of attention to them of if you’re a beginner Lead, and sometimes the beginner Follower, you look at them and think “OMG that’s complicated!”. The visual of what you’re looking at is seemingly so fast, and so intricate that it just blows your mind. Today’s Tango Topic deals with what some consider to be the very first piece of vocabulary after the 7 Basic Moves of Tango. It’s the first real, seemingly intricate and complex (it’s not) tango move that we’re taught as a way to augment our dance.

So without further yapping :-), Tango Topics presents: The Simple Sacada.

Notation: There is a Simple Sacadas v3 that is still in the archive, and it can be found here, and it will stay in the archive for you to view as further reference material. 🙂 You’re welcome! 

What is a Sacada ? First, a Sacada consists of a walking step that just so happens to intersect with your partner’s walking step at the same time that they’re stepping forward, side, or back. Secondly and this part you have to keep in the back of your mind: It’s an illusion. An illusion of walking, an illusion of technique, and an illusion of execution. To put it simply the Sacada is really just a walking illusion that intersects with someone else’s walk. And that’s the part that most people are confused by. What they see is the illusion, and try to re-create the illusion instead of focusing on the part that will actually help them to get to the root of the Sacada, the walking part! Which is to say that people focus on the flash and not the substance! It’s just a step forward and side (and sometimes back, but not in Today’s Tango Topic), which is going cut through, and step very close to someone else’s step which results in a displacement of someone’s leg. The hard part for most people is the timing of that displacement, not to mention where that displacement goes. Speaking of ‘displacements’ the Sacada is in the family of Tango vocabulary that are called ‘displacements‘, and that’s because of two factors that occur: 1.) Because whoever is initiating the Sacada will take the place of the one who is receiving the Sacada. You are displacing, and sometimes being displaced. And 2.) The one who is receiving the Sacada will displace their free leg as a result of the intersection of the walk. Further down the rabbit hole, the Sacada is one of the 4 common Displacements that Tango Topics talks about which are: 1.) The Sacada. 2.) Ganchos. 3.) Boleos. 4.) Enganches or what is commonly known as an Argentine Wrap!

And just for your further edification because some people ask the question “How many types of Sacadas are there ?”. Answer: There are 22 Types of Sacadas, and a total of 501 variations of those 22 Types. And yes we have done the math, and it comes out to 501. The types, just in case you hadn’t thought about it, but we have, are as follows:

1.) Forward Sacadas (from Linear, Circular, or Over-Rotated Ochos) in Parallel & Cross System.
2.) Side Sacadas (from a Curved Side Step) in Parallel & Cross System.
3.) Back Sacadas (from Back step, or Circular or Over-Rotated Ochos) in Parallel & Cross System.
4.) Linear Sacadas (from a Linear Side Step, or Linear Forward Step) in Parallel & Cross System.
5.) Chained Sacadas (Think: Cadenas) In Parallel & Cross System.
6.) Walking Displacement Sacadas in Parallel & Cross System.
7.) Multiple Forward/Side/Back Sacadas in Parallel & Cross System.
8.) Multiple Alternate A (same foot) Sacadas (You’ll see an example of this in the Forward Sacadas section).
9.) Molinete Sacadas (from the Follower’s MolineteThe Lead’s Molinete, and/or the Anti-Molinete).
10.) Orientation Change Sacadas (See the Anti-Molinete, and/or the American Embrace).
11.) Two Footed Sacadas (jump into the sacada).

That’s 11 Types of Sacadas, and each role can perform these, so we end up with 22 Types of Sacadas. Now there are even further variations on a theme of these ideas where you can theoretically mix and match any one of these ideas with another on the list and create a hybrid of the two. However, it was late and we’d already gone through 1002 possibilities and then someone mentioned the concept of Tango Topology and that just blew everything out of the water by halving everything and so we stopped counting there … so 501, and 22 types is enough for one lifetime. 🙂

Now to the ‘Simple‘ Part. What makes it ‘Simple‘ ? The fact that we’re limiting the Sacada to two of the three basic walking steps: 1.) Side Steps. 2.) Forward Steps. The Sidestep is the more common of the two Sacadas, not the Forward. Usually, in order of precedence, it’s a.) The Lead Sacadas the Follower’s Side Step. b.) The Lead Sacadas Follower’s Forward step. c.)The Follower Sacadas the Lead’s Sidestep, and finally, d.) The Follower Sacadas the Lead’s Forward step.

Pre-Requisites: So that we’re all clear on this part, note the difficulty rating below, it is not an exaggeration! Do not attempt this stuff unless the following is true: You have mastered 1.) your walk. 2.) your stability. and 3.) your equilibrium. If you need to stabilize yourself against your partner when walking, if you need to use your hands or arms in any level of tactile compression, if you need are in the habit of watching your partner’s feet, if you are used to using resistance – compression – rigidity – tension – or force to engage your ideas, then a Simple Sacada will elude you. Or more to the point it will be painful and cause you problems going forward for any number of reasons, which has to do with your stability, your posture, and your walk! Fix those, and the Sacada will work as advertised. 😉

Difficulty Rating:  (3 / 5)

From A Following Perspective let’s cut through it, shall we ?

Receiving the Sacada: Means that the Sacada is being done to you, usually on either your forward or your sidestep. So your primary concern here is the execution of your steps. Translation ? The Sacada means absolutely nothing to you. In this instance the Lead is initiating a Sacada onto you, and therefore you need to do nothing except to execute your walking step Forward or Side as you would normally. There’s no need to be in a specific place to a limited degree. There’s no special trick here that you need to understand. Nothing. You would execute your Side Step (The Common Sacada is done from the Lead’s Forward Step into the Follower’s Side Step) as you normally would. The only difference is how you resolve the step. Which we’ll get to in a moment.

Giving the Sacada. Meaning ? That you are the one that’s being led to Sacada your Lead. Typically, for you, this is you being led to step into your Lead’s Side step or their Forward step which will seemingly (and actually) go away from you. And this is where you’re rightfully going to freak out. Why ?


HELLO?!??!?! Of course, you’re going to freak out! The bottom line is you’re being led to step into someone and you don’t want to step on your their feet. You don’t want to hurt them. You’re in heels and you are keenly aware of this. But mostly it’s the not wanting to hit anyone or step on anyone’s feet part. That’s not what’s going to happen, it’s a perception. It’s not reality. Reality is that you’re not going to step on them, but through them, and very close your Lead’s trailing foot. Very close. And that’s the key right there, close to the trailing foot which is the freakout part. There’s a natural avoidance mechanism that occurs here, and it’s a slight hesitation of not wanting to hit anyone, and this is one of those times where you quite consciously have to override that mechanism and actually aim to hit someone!

The Resolution Issue! In either case of Giving or Receiving the Sacada, there is a resolution that has to occur. “Resolution” in this case means to come back to facing your Lead after the Sacada has been executed, and then more importantly what’s happening to The Free Leg which we’ll get to in a moment. When you are being led to Give the Sacada, meaning you are Sacada-ing your Lead, your resolution is really about coming to, and in many cases, passing through to collection more than anything else. There will be a, depending on the Sacada that’s being executed a small amount of energy that will resolve in the form of a rotation of the couple. There’s not much more to the Sacada than that. When you’re Receiving the Sacada, that’s where things take on a whole different scene. Your free leg, the trailing leg of your step, is going to want to swing freely away from your lead. The swinging free leg isn’t so free. You want to control it, containing the motion. Again, see the video above for how we want to do this. Just know that there is, in fact, a technique here, as well as options as to what to do with that. More the options than anything else. By training, not default, you’re going to want to execute a collection here on the resolution when Receiving the Sacada.

The Free Leg. This is probably the single most important part about the Sacada. Why ? Because it’s what you do with the Free Leg and how you do what you do with the Free Leg! Translation ? Once the Lead invades your space and has initiated a Sacada, your free leg is going to want to swing away by default. It is only through conscious training, and effort, that you don’t allow for that to happen but rather create a ‘graceful’ swing away from and into Social Collection. That ‘graceful’ swing ? That’s all you. You have complete control over how, when, where, and most of all > what you are doing with that Leg and foot. The Lead, in this instance, does not. No matter what you’ve been taught or shown, your execution here is all about what you do with that execution! And there are loads and loads of options of what you can do with that free leg. However, what you don’t have control over is the time with which you have to execute the resulting Social Collection. So a good rule of thumb is to pay attention to the beat and remember that everything you do should unless led otherwise, land on the beat. Always. It is for this reason, and many others, that the Follower does not want to be a mindless automaton as you may have been taught or told or has been implied. Rather we desire a thinking, breathing, co-participant of the dance that is actively working on trying to create the best experience for themselves, their Lead, and the visual relationship of the couple as a whole. And that starts with being Jane-On-The-Spot with being on the beat! Always.

The Follower’s Gotcha Moment. There’s always one in every single move you will ever perform in Argentine Tango. Always. In the Simple Sacada series, we need to pull back a bit and recognize that there are Sacadas where you quite literally are being led to step away from you Lead in order to make the Sacada possible. One such is in the Golden Sacada itself. It’s the 2nd Sacada in the sequence. However, in the Simple Sacada series, the Follower wants to step not away, but around their Lead! In both the Forward and Side Steps. The reason why it’s a gotcha moment ? Because quite honestly it shouldn’t be but it is because sometimes it’s just not possible due to the fact that the Lead is in your way for any number of reasons especially if the Sacada is in Close Embrace! Because of their posture, because of their hips, because of their body position, it’s impossible to step close enough to them so as a result, we’ll end up going away not around them. And therein lay the problem. You’re stepping away from the Lead. Here’s the kicker. They’ll blame you for this. And what’s worse is that you’ll blame you for it too. 🙁 To be fair sometimes you are stepping away due to habit, or again posture (this time, yours!), or instability. So yes, you’re at fault. However, a good portion of the time, it’s your Lead that’s generating the problem, not you. Assuming you’re stable, and you’re not hanging, pulling, or pushing, or using your arms or hands, and you’re stepping around them as best you can…then it’s probably your Lead and not you! In the Simple Sacada however, there are times when you don’t want to step around your Lead, there are several instances where you’re being led to step away. So it’s important to listen to the directional information of where the lead (the action) is sending you. Very important. So that’s the Gotcha.

From a Leading Perspective there are two ideas about Sacadas, either giving them, or receiving them. There is no difference in the lead or the follow, in this instance. They’re nearly identical to each other. In both cases you’re leading yourself to step into them, or you’re leading them to step into you.

Let’s get right to it. You are invading the Follower’s space. You are stepping into their trailing free space, where they were, and in some cases you are also leading them to step away from you. Further still, you are also leading a triangle of shared steps.

The Triangle of All Sacadas. All Sacadas, all of them, regardless of the type that’s being initiated, all have in common 3 physical points in space. And those 3 points usually form a Triangle on the floor, sometimes that Triangle is Equilateral, and sometimes more often than not, it’s an Isosceles Triangle. What’s important to note is that the angles of the Triangle is important to good Sacada health and safety. If the angle is too shallow or too oblique, then the Sacada will be unstable and unworkable. Two points of the Triangle are non-weight bearing feet (one for the Lead, and one for the Follower). The third point is a shared point. It’s the point of intersection between the couple, which is the Sacada point! Why are we talking about this ? Because it’s one way, not the only way, to conceptualize what you’re doing and how to keep the Sacada from being a painful mess for both Lead and Follow!

The Trailing Foot. You’re always shooting for the trailing foot when you are a.) Sacada-ing the Follower or b.) leading the Follower to Sacada you. In either case you want to step just inside of the Follower’s trailing foot or have them step inside your trailing foot. If it’s you stepping into them, then you want your step not to be too deep and at the same time not too shallow, ankle to ankle, anything more or less than that and you’re going to generate issues. It’s the other side of the equation where things are going to get a little challenging. The reason ? Is that while you may lead the Follower to walk into you, if or how they execute that step into you is entirely up to them, and forcing the issue isn’t going to win you any friends either! Meaning ? Pulling on the Follower’s back to indicate that you want them to step into you, or pulling on their arms to ‘direct’ them is not such a good idea, ever. The reason this is being brought up is the same reason we mentioned above for the Follower of their fear of stepping on you. They don’t want to hurt you. So in other words, don’t force the issue. If they don’t step into you. Don’t wig out. Got it ?

Pointing The Toe. Your entry foot, whichever one it is, is pointed, and shooting for the Follower’s trailing foot as noted above. This is one of the rare times, as a social dancer you have to be diligent about pointing your toe. This isn’t walking heel to toe, this is the opposite, walking or starting your step, toe-to-heel. The reason ? It generates a very nice visual line from the toe up the leg, past the knee to the hip. And believe it or not that we actually do care about that line. Why ? Because what we look like, how we execute any step, if that step looks ‘sloppy’ then the Follower looks sloppy, and thereby the couple looks ‘sloppy’ in how they move, how they execute a step. To be fair and clear this isn’t about what Tango Topics calls ‘Presentation Tango’ or Stage Tango. No. This is about creating a nice visual line, that’s all. Nothing more than that. This isn’t performing for a room full of people, this is making your partner look desirable to dance with. Which, believe it or not, you are actually responsible for, contrary to what you might have been told. 😉

The Free Leg. The Follower’s free leg in this case is going want to swing away from you. This is default behavior. It is only through conscious effort that the Follower learns to control this motion and bring it into and to pass through to Social Collection. Further still the free leg, if you were looking for something ‘fancy’ to happen with it, is again, controlled by the Follower here, not by you as the Lead. Which is to say that the Follower has a certain amount of control over what the leg is doing, where it’s going, how it’s getting there, and most importantly what it looks like at all points along the curve. So in other words, once you start the Sacada, how the Follower resolves that is up to them and not to you. You however do have control over when something is initiated and the timing of it’s resolution. Which means you can rush things or let things be languid. That’s entirely up to you. However, if you’ve been paying attention, there is another master here that you absolutely must pay attention to: The Beat. So while the timing may be up to you, you still have to respect the beat, the musical pauses, and the musical phrases!

From a Dancing Perspective, the Simple Sacada can be a gateway for both roles to open up to possibilities. For the Follower, it’s a gateway to an exploration of the Free Leg and what you could possibly do with it. For the Lead, there are loads and loads of possibilities, from a musical perspective as well as from vocabulary perspective, far too many to even begin to notate them all here. There are slow Simple Sacadas where they’re drawn out in time to the long, stringy note. Or there could be over rotations out of the Simple Sacada that lead to other things, there’s a possible Soltada that’s sitting there on the end of the Simple Sacada. There’s also a probable Mordita which opens the doorway to either Colgada, or a Volcada! The options are limitless!

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video is 31m:39s in length in 14 sections. Both lead and follower technique are combined and integrated into the video. Bold items below shown in video sample video above.

Introduction – 00:02:32
Follower Technique – 00:02:11
Lead Technique – 00:01:35
Sacada Clarity – 00:00:36
The Lead’s First Sacada  – 00:02:06
The Follower’s First Sacada
Parallel & Cross System Sacadas – 00:03:03
Close-up Sacada – 00:00:32
Follower Forward Step Sacadas – 00:03:03
Lead Forward Step Sacadas – 00:01:46
Multiple Forward Step Sacadas – 00:02:35
Close Embrace Simple sacadas – 00:05:38
The Close Embrace Exercise with Sacadas – 00:03:26
Simple Sacadas from the Follower’s Molinete/End – 00:01:38

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload
Close Embrace Sacadas – Article/Download

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

thoughts about tango ?

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Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of voabulary there, or how to make things fit. These website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perpective as well as from a Following perspective!

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