Variations …


This week’s Tango Space class theme is the forward ocho. Although I have spent a … certain amount of time working on ochos, it was going to provide me with one thing I’ve consistently wanted: practice at pivots. I diarised two classes this week: Monday and Thursday.

Getting some practice really was great. It was a luxury to be doing something where I didn’t have to think about the logistics but could just focus on technique. I was comfortable enough that I was able to play around with the both speed and size of the ochos, and to begin to get a sense of the flexibility available in expressing quite different things with the same core movements …

The class was very busy. Tango Space had run a taster session on Saturday, so there were a lot of new people from that, along with some people just a few lessons in. That really helped provide a sense of my own progress. I spend so much of my time comparing myself with experienced dancers that it’s easy to lose sight of how much I’ve learned over the past four months. Brand-new beginners provide an encouraging contrast.

There was a 30-minute practica after the lesson, and – as with Saturday’s workshop – I was again finding that it felt much more of a mix of concentration and enjoyment.

I was keen to get as much practice as possible, so decided to stay on for the Improver’s class that followed. This was billed as ‘variation of the forward ocho,’ so what harm could it do to give it a go?


Actually, the first half of the class was great. It’s easier to dance with more experienced followers, so that was a treat, and the class also dances in close embrace, which I find easier. Playing with pace and degree of pivot was also easier with dancers at this level.

But then things went onto a whole new level! The ‘variation’ was a forward ocho with a sacada, a pivot with a second sacada and then into a medio-giro with a parada and finally a sandwich. Glossary: a pivot and step with the leader stepping in between the follower’s feet, then a 180-degree turn to do the same thing again, then another 180-degree turn with the follower stepping over the leader’s leg, and ending with the leader ‘sandwiching’ one of the follower’s feet between his own.

The gap between the beginner’s class and the improver’s class is quite … big! I shall henceforth view the word ‘variation’ with considerable caution.

Much to my amazement, I was consistently able to do the first part of the sequence. Everything went fine up to the second sacada, then my feet were somehow ending up in the wrong place and that was the end of that. Attempts were made by both Federico and Julia to diagnose the issue, but there wasn’t really enough time within the confines of a group class, and I was happy enough to have got as far as I did.

The sequence isn’t going to be one I’ll be attempting any time soon, but it was more experience at leader pivots (pivots performed by the leader, that is), and that’s something I do need.

I was glad I stayed, but shan’t be making a habit of it …

Photo: Shutterstock

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