Tag Archives: rotation

Ochos should we cross the legs?

Last week we were taking about posture and whether one can/ should maintain a specific body position throughout the dance. Inevitably therefore the conversation turned to ochos and whether we should cross the legs.

Crossing the legs in Tango

Let’s first take a look at what that means exactly in the Tango world. You might already be familiar with the specific movement option, but in case you are not, we are talking about bringing one leg right in line with the other while stepping forward or backwards. We are usually cued to do that to isolate the movement of the torso from that of the hips.

Why do choose to cross the legs?

When we cross the legs we lock the hips and lower spine in position. That creates the impression of the hips being square and parallel to the floor. Also, the upper body appears to have a clean rotation over the lower body with a more sharp disassociation.

What limitations does that movement option have?

This option however has some limitations. First, it limits the side tilt range of the spine. Side tilt, as we will see in the video below is coupled with torsion due to the anatomy of the spine, meaning the two movements always happen together.

Second, due to the side tilt limitation, the angle of the pivot is also limited. You see the bigger the pivot the more necessary the side tilt is. With the hips in a lock the side tilt may happen further up in the spine where it may affect the embrace, create tension in our neck, arms and between the shoulder blades and throw us off balance.

What does that mean physically for us?

From an anatomy perspective there are two important issues with this option. One is the side tilt limitation we talked about above. The second is that we will have sheer of forces running outward to the right and left of each hip joint.

Starting from the latter, when we place one foot in front of the other, then our movement options are at the end of range, for example we are at the end of range for adduction. That creates a feeling of tension or pressure through key joint surfaces, such as the hips and knees.

That is though related to the upper body as well. It limits the options our spine has at diaphragm height in terms of torsion and side tilt. Why is that? Well the reasons are more than one, but it really boils down to the shape and orientation of the joints, the muscles and connective tissue of the human body. 

So would we say this is a movement option that we want to maintain in our vocabulary?

In terms of Tango it can be a stylistic option that creates a very powerful and dynamic impression. However if we are to use it we would need to be aware of the physical limitations and risks which we spoke about above.

From an anatomical point of view it certainly is not the most efficient and healthy option for us. It locks certain parts of the body and that requires a lot more muscle work to pull through an ocho. If we don’t care so much for the Tango style it is better to choose a movement option that allows the whole body to participate in a more efficient way.

Let me know what you think and send me your questions on this matter or any other to do with posture or ochos..!

Intelligent Tango-5min practice on rotation (ocho focused)

Rotation Vs Dissociation-Disassociation

Dissociation or Disassociation is a word commonly used in Tango mostly for ochos. If though you do a google search for the word this is what you find on wikipedia:

“In psychology, dissociation is any of a wide array of experiences from mild detachment from immediate surroundings to more severe detachment from physical and emotional experience. The major characteristic of all dissociative phenomena involves a detachment from reality, rather than a loss of reality as in psychosis


All teachers have used it. All dancers have heard it. And all bodies hate it!

Make things better through rotation

The word dissociation implies that there is a disconnection, a detachment, an that is why our bodies hate such concepts.

Movement in our bodies is multi-directional and involves different parts of the body. Our movement therefore is more efficient and smooth, and fun, when we we tap the automatic and unavoidable connections happening within. Connections on a muscular level, in the bone structure, through the breath. Through the senses, the organs and the blood flow. Our body is ONE!

So I like to think of ochos through rotation.  A rotation of the lower relative to the upper or vice versa.
This way instead of thinking in isolation we can re-frame the way we get into our ochos allowing the whole body to get involved in creating that rotation. Allowing our upper and lower body to work together instead of looking detachment.

In this series of short practices we will see how we can best practice rotation for a more comfortable, smooth and amazing ocho…

Here is video#1:

Intelligent Tango–5min practice on rotation

I gave myself 5mins for this one but of course you can do it for longer…I wouldn’t recommend that you do it for less time unless you decide to do only one of the exercises.

This is your practice though, you get to decide what feels better for you!

So have fun and let me know if you have any questions/ concerns or comments.