Archive for 2003

Cruzada: to lead or not to lead, that is the question…

Posted in Dance, Technique on August 31st, 2003

Cruzada: From cruzar – to cross; the cross. A cruzada occurs any time a foot is crossed in front of or in back of the other. The lady’s position at 5 of the 8-count basic. May also be called Trabada.

~ From Ed Loomis, “Tango Terminology”

About the cruzada, I have heard different explanations on how it is done.

For me, the easiest way to understand the cruzada on the 8-count basic is that the leader walks on the open side, then when he leads the cruzada, he encourages the follower to move into his path? by doing a cross. What do you think?

What you just said is the way I’ve learnt it, and is certainly the best way to explain the cruzada to beginners. I’ve heard the cruzada appeared in Tango because of the line of dance and the fact that leaders had to lead their partners counter-clockwise to follow the line of dance. Leading their partners to turn on their left side created the conditions for the cross to appear. Personally, I consider the cruzada as an “atrophied” forward ocho done in line with the flow of dance.

I also think that the cruzada should be led. The mark of the lead comes from a slight double torsion of the chest (milonguero) or frame (open embrace), similar to the lead of an ocho but in a very very subtle way. The idea of “atrophied ocho” is my creation and it helps me a lot to figure out how to lead the cross better.

I like this idea, though to be more precise, I think this “atrophied” forward ocho or backward ocho has to be an ocho without pivoting.

When I think about the lead, I tend to see the cruzada as a step done on the other side of the moving foot, that is, left foot moves to the right side, and vice versa.

From a follower’s point of view, a small forward ocho or backward ocho can be replaced by a simple front cross or back cross because it does not require much pivoting, or even none at all. This is a way to decorate the dance, so a cruzada can definitely be an “atrophied” ocho. However, I do question myself at times if the cruzada has to be led. The natural movement during the dance sometimes makes me feel that the cross is not always intentionally led. When I follow, the cross sometimes comes to me so naturally that I wonder if I read the signal from the leader properly!

That’s the thing that puzzle me.

I see what you mean.

I also feel that there is a natural tendency to come to the cross when you have a good embrace and connection, and the leader is just walking outside his partner. I don’t deny it at all and for me this is what makes the lead so subtle.

You feel sometimes the cruzada comes naturally. Some of the great maestros might say that cruzada shouldn’t be led, then they describe what we feel happened during a great dance in the real life – we have indeed the feeling that the cross comes naturally or automatically. I’m standing more from a teaching point of view: I strongly believe that when teaching beginners we should tell the leader to lead the cross and the follower to wait for the lead. Later each of them will find out that when the embrace and the lead feel good, the leading of the cross will become a “no lead”. But this only comes after a lot of work and many hours of dancing. To say to beginners that the cruzada is led will help both leader and follower to concentrate on their part and avoid any hesitation and misunderstanding.

And for that, I think the embrace is the key – depending on whether it is close or open, parallel or a slight V-shape.

So far my conclusion is that the embrace can make the cruzada happen quite differently.

I can’t figure out easily the impact of the embrace’s shape on the cross, and I’m not quite sure if it has an impact on me or not. I like to think of the embrace as being parallel and during the dance it can (or even should) open itself a bit, naturally.

In fact, I used to dance a bit too V-shaped. The tango master who noticed it and corrected me was Omar Vega. His comment helped me a lot, especially for milonga: a parallel embrace helps both partners to keep a full chest to chest contact with each other and it forces you to use the torsion of your body to dissociate the top of your body from the bottom.

I can understand what you mean.

About the V-shape or parallel embrace, I think it is determined more by the follower than the leader. No matter what your frame is – more parallel or in slight V-shape – the final form (of the embrace) depends totally on how the follower embraces you.

Like in our case when we dance, we are in fact in a V-shape because when I put my arm around your neck and my face facing you, there’s no space between the right side of your body and the left side of my body, and the other side of our bodies are slightly open.

As a leader you may prefer to have a more parallel embrace, but for me at any time I prefer the V-shape..

So, then, tell me what kind of relationship you see between the embrace and the cross?

So, coming back to the relationship between the embrace and the cross.

When we dance – especially in an open frame – I find, as a follower, that when I adopt a parallel embrace, it is very unlikely for me to enter the cross naturally. If the leader wants me to do the cross, he has to make a real effort to let me know. Whereas when I adopt a V-shape embrace, I’m more sensitive to the cross. In that case, even if the leader doesn’t really lead it, it will still happen naturally.

I fully agree that in an open embrace a V-shape will lead you almost “automatically” into the cross.

Regarding the V-shape, I agree with you that I’m dancing in a slight V-shape embrace. In actual fact, I intend to stay as parallel as I can, but the V comes almost naturally and I don’t fight against this feeling as I think it is normal (taking into account the fact that we hold each other tight on one side while the other side is more open).

But I must say that follower’s head position can accentuate the V. If the follower turns her head to her right side, the V is stronger than if she turns her head to her left. For me, I prefer the follower to turn her head to her left. It is only when I feel especially comfortable with a follower do I enjoy her face in front of mine.

So how do you like my embrace when I have my face in front of you?

You are the only dancer with whom I really enjoy it and for a very unique reason…