Although in Argentine tango there are no pre-defined figures or steps, leading the cross – often in the 8 step sequence – is one of the first things taught in all dance schools. You might have heard of this sequence as 8 count basic.
The methods used to teach leading the cross vary from teacher to teacher but as mentioned above the 8 step sequence is frequently used.
Why is that? With these 8 simple steps we can prepare and lead the cross, closing down the sequence.
This is all nice and simple but as a teacher I beg you NOT to practice or teach 8 step basic starting with a back step!!!
If the leader starts walking against the line of dance he can easily stumble across others’ legs. Many places even forbid starting a dance with back steps. There are many alternative ways to leading a cross without risking a collision with others.
Disregarding the backward steps, the following videos nicely demonstrate different methods to leading the cross. The videos use mainly the parallel system to teach the 8 step basic although it is possible to use both parallel and cross systems.
Steps of the 8-sequence:
step 1 – the leader takes a step to the back. It is advised to ignore this step as the leader cannot see behind himself and could collide with others!
step 2 – side step or “salida” usually towards the center of the dance floor.
step 3 – the leader steps on the outside of the follower
step 4 – preparation of the cross with a forward step
step 5 – the leader closes his feet, the follower completes the cross step
steps 6-7-8 – these steps terminate the sequence
Video 1. Diego Blanco & Ana Padron 8-step basic
This lovely couple appears in my other articles as well. Their videos are great, although in this one explanations are brief and the disadvantages of the back step are not mentioned.
Video 2. Rusty Cline & Joanne Canalli 8-step basic
Although they don’t mention that the back step can be skipped, Rusty Cline & Joanne Canalli at least advise us make it a small one.
Video 3. Osvaldo Zotto & Mora Godoy basic sequence (at 1:31)
Video 4. Dario’s tango guide (at 1:35 )
Those learning tango online will be familiar with Dario da Silva and Clair da Silva. This video begins with the embrace and moves on to leading the cross with the 8 step basic at 1:35.
Video 5. Nito Garcia & Elba Garcia 8-count basic variations
The following video is not exactly here for teaching purposes but to demonstrate the different variations for the cross by a world famous couple. Nito & Elba Garcia use both parallel and cross systems so pay attention to when and where the leader shifts from one system to the other, the rhythm & speed of the steps, etc.
All the above videos are useful but can not substitute the advice and observations of a teacher. There are dozens of other videos on leading the cross but there is no need to see them all as it would get confusing. My advice to all learners is to pay attention to your dance tutors and use these videos as an extra support.
Further lessons can be found here.
Good luck and enjoy your practice!