Argentine Tango Steps

Rock Step (La Cadencia) Turns

These simple turns (or rock steps) are very useful. They can be used in a small space and are useful when the way forward is blocked or when you exit out of a figure and need to change your dance direction. Here is a video by Diego Blanco and Ana Padrón that demonstrates La Cadencia.

How to Do the Rock Step aka La Cadencia

The video demonstrates counterclockwise starting with a rock on the open side and then counterclockwise with a rock on closed side. Unfortunately, the sound is missing in part of the video we think due to the music violating copyright rules.

And here are several other helpful videos:

La Cadencia Izquierda Rock Turn to the Left

This video was created by the 8th Style School of Tango. It consists of a 90 degreee counterclockwise turn starting with a rock on the leader’s left. The amount of turn can be adjusted up to 180.

La Cadencia Derecha Rock Turn to the Right

And here is a slightly more advanced variation also by The 8th Style School of Tango. The Turn is 180 degrees clockwise by rocking on leader’s left, leader’s right back behind left, and then two small steps to complete the turn.

Lets explore the La Cadencia or Rock Turns in more detail.

Some people consider dancing to the music only as stepping on the beat, but there is much more to musicality than that. Dancing with cadencia, for example, is also a part of the process. Cadencia refers to the swing of the body in sync with the rhythm and speed of the music. Dancing to the music means not only timing the steps, but also timing the swing of the body as well. Cadencia is an important technique in argentine tango that is a key component of the tango dance but is sometimes forgotten.

To learn La Cadencia, the first element is to learn how to swing your body. Some people don’t know how to swing their leg, let alone swing their body. To swing the leg, you should stand on one leg and raise up your torso and hip so that your free leg hangs loosely and is able to swing freely like a pendulum. You should keep the knee and ankle of the leg straight while swinging it, so the leg appears long and graceful. Imagine, now, that your leg does not begin from your hip but from your chest. IE think of everything below your chest as your leg. The chest is where you and your partner connect. It serves as a fixed point to swing everything below it as a whole. By doing this, not only the line of your leg looks long and beautiful, but in addition your entire body looks tall and elegant.

You should think of swinging your body as if your body had three connected sections – the torso, the hip and the leg. A small motion of the first or torso section will lead to a bigger motion of the second or hip section, which will lead to a still bigger motion of the third leg section. The woman follower should relax her body and let the man swing her torso, which leads to the swing of her hip, which then leads to the swing of her leg. She should not move her leg first without the swing of her body, but should let the leg follow the body to swing. In other words, the swing of the leg is not caused by its muscle but by the swing of the torso and hip in a chain reaction using the law of mechanics. The follower must follow and not anticipate the lead.

The swing is in a horizontal direction. Some tango dancers fail to do La Cadencia because there is a lack of horizontal motion in their dance and they only focus on the vertical motion of stepping down on the beat. In order to do La Cadencia successfully you have to generate enough speed in each step. The foot must land on the beat, yet the horizontal motion of the body continues due to momentum, causing the body to extend beyond the center of gravity until the other foot lands on the beat. La Cadencia is the motion of the body between two steps.

La Cadencia involves teamwork but cannot occur without a clear lead. An experienced leader knows how to use the the movement of his body to swing the woman in sync with the rhythm and speed of the music. Leaders must be aware that whether the follower dances to the music depends to a large degree on the lead. Sometimes, the follower fails to step on the beat because her body is led to swing too little or too much, too slow or too fast, meaning her foot cannot land on the beat. A skillful leader generates just enough swing, so the follower’s foot lands precisely on the beat. Likewise, a skillful follower times the swing of her body and leg to the music as well. She complements the leader in her own way.

La Cadencia is used in both social tango and performance tango, but it is primarily a social tango technique aiming at enhancing the sensual pleasure rather than the visual impression of the dance. Dancing with cadencia requires not only excellent musicality but also good balance. Once you have learned to do it, the sensation of the leader and follower swinging together as one body in harmony with the rhythmic flow of the music will make the argentine tango dance much more pleasurable.

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