The Gancho (or “hook” in English) is a move where the leader makes the follower hook their leg round the leader’s leg. The most popular version involves a sharp leg movement back and behind the leader’s leg. It’s a move that is visually extremely eye catching and quite unique to Argentine Tango.
The follower’s hooking leg movement comes in a number of different moves, coming from the front or back of the leader, with a backward or forward leg movement, fast or slow, the follower reverses direction or not, etc. These variations are often categorized as enganche, wrap, piernazo, etc. All “hooking” moves are considered part of the Gancho family.
However, whenever a high heel is being lifted in the air as in a Gancho, there is the risk of kicking another dancer – or even your partner. On a large or uncrowded dance floor the risk is low, but the Gancho is inadvisable or in some cases not allowed when dancers are tightly packed.
There are a number of fundamentals that the leader needs to master to perform the Gancho successfully:
- Getting the follower close and aligned correctly is important.
- Make room for the follower’s leg to enter by flexing the knee and going up on the toe of the leg to be ganchoed.
- Leading the follower to the correct position may require an adjustment to the leader’s embrace.
Advice to followers
- Make the Gancho from the hip not knee. Swing the leg from the hip; don’t just bend the knee. The knee should bend naturally as the leg swings.
- Don’t lean back.
- If the leader fails to place the follower in a good gancho position, a front boleo is likely the most viable fallback move.
By far the most popular introductory ganchos are from back ochos. The next most popular are from front ochos.
Here are some introductory Gancho videos:
From Back Ocho. Linked Ganchos / El Pulpo Style Ganchos
By Clint Rauscher and Shelly Brooks. This video is a really good introduction to ganchos from a back ocho. The rest of the video covers the much harder linked ganchos.
From Front Ocho. How to do the Hook aka the Gancho
By Diego Blanco & Ana Padrón. Nice introduction to the Gancho done from a front ocho.
More Advanced Ganchos
By Clint Rauscher and Shelley Brooks. Interesting gancho variations.
By Homer and Cristina Ladas. The demo is full of advanced Gancho variations.
By Clint Rauscher and Shelly Brooks. Includes a good review of basic back ocho gancho technique, an interesting combination of ganchos, an exercise for both sides and coming from both front and back, three linked ganchos, and finally another variation on linked ganchos.
By Michelle and Joachim. Graceful tango showing the follower’s leg going around leader’s waist or thigh.
Two demo videos by LA Tango Academy (Emma Bogren & Richard Cepeda).
A summary of gancho variations.