Back to School Immersion
By Valorie Hart and Alberto Paz
Excerpts from Gotta Tango. Copyright (c) 2007-2013. All Rights Reserved
Nobody is born knowing, but studying we learn, as long as what we learn makes sense and can be explained in clear and logical terms.
Introduction to the parada
The term parada is the past participle of the Spanish verb parar, which literally means to stop. The name is shorthand for la mujer ha sido parada por el hombre, or “the woman has been stopped by the man.” The definition in tango terms is the action of stopping the woman when she still has both feet on the floor (in other words, when she is transitioning between axes on an inside or outside cross but never laterally). A man should never stop the woman while she is in the process of executing a lateral opening because it is not flattering for the woman to be seen with her legs open.
Parada With Sandwich
This popular sequence is done in the cross-feet system and occurs when the woman is executing an outside cross to the man’s right. The recognizable feature of the parada is the illusion that the man stops the woman by placing his right foot next to her left foot when she has crossed her right foot outside. This parada is the result of interrupting the outside cross of the woman with the man’s right shoulder when she has both feet on the ground. As her transition to her right axis is interrupted (that is, stopped), the woman flexes her front leg and elongates her right calf, pressing against the floor with her right metatarsal and keeping the heel off the ground.
The use of the parada must be handled with the rest of the dancers in mind. Gentlemen, stopping for no other reason than to do a parada just because you learned how to do it may create circulation problems for the other couples coming from behind you. It is accepted dance floor etiquette to drop toward the center of the dance floor before engaging in any figure that may otherwise block the flow of traffic on the edges of the dance floor. After you play and have fun, rejoin the line of dance anywhere that doesn’t interfere with the flow.
Introduction to the gancho
Another way to interrupt the motion of the woman for the purpose of changing her direction is the leg hook, commonly known as gancho
. The position where the gancho
takes place is the same sixth position of the eight-count giro (clockwise giro 6 and counterclockwise giro 6); in other words, it is when the woman steps back with her outside leg using a cross behind her support leg. In this case, the man interrupts and stops the woman’s motion by extending his outside leg to block the thigh of her inside leg. Next, he changes her axis to the outside leg with a gentle forward lunge into her, flexing his support knee. Then he marks a backward motion of her inside leg. Since the man is blocking that leg at the thigh, the woman can move only her inside leg until her thigh presses firmly against the man’s thigh. She continues moving her leg from the knee down, wrapping the upper part of her leg on the man’s thigh, thus hooking her leg into the man’s open stance.
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