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Six fundamental leg motions of the tango

This is an excerpt from Gotta Tango by Alberto Paz & Valorie Hart.

Reaching Out


Now you will learn about the six root motions of the legs when dancing the tango. Don’t forget to breathe normally while you do these exercises. Keep your arms in an embrace shape and assume the proper placement of the feet. See figures 3.3 and 3.4 for demonstrations of the steps.

  1. Stand on your right axis.
  2. Bend the right knee slightly, and begin to extend the left foot to your left side from the hip. Keep contact with the floor with the base of the big toe until the leg is completely extended. This is called a lateral opening to the left.
  3. Straighten the right knee and let the left leg close until the upper thighs are touching and your feet are in a V shape.
  4. Change your axis to the left leg. Bend the left knee slightly, and extend the right foot to the side from the hip. Keep contact with the floor with the base of the big toe until the leg is completely extended. This is called a lateral opening to the right. Straighten the left knee and let the right leg close until the upper thighs are touching and your feet are in a V shape.
  5. Change your axis to the right leg.
  6. Bend the right knee slightly, and extend the left leg backward from the hip, keeping the foot pointing in the 10 o’clock position. Keep contact with the floor with the base of the big toe curled up until the leg is completely extended. This is called a backward opening on the left side.
  7. Straighten the right knee and let the left leg close until the thighs are touching, keeping your feet in a V shape.
  8. Change your axis to the left leg. Bend the left knee slightly, and extend the right leg backward from the hip, keeping the foot pointing in the 2 o’clock position. Keep contact with the floor with the base of the big toe curled up until the leg is completely extended. This is called a backward opening on the right side.
  9. Straighten the left knee and let the right leg close until the upper thighs are touching, keeping your feet in a V shape.
  10. Change your axis to the right leg.
  11. Bend the right knee slightly, and extend the left leg forward from the hip. Keep contact with the floor with the base of the little toe pointing in the 10 o’clock position until the left leg is completely extended. This is called a forward opening on the left.
  12. Straighten the right knee and let the left leg close until the upper thighs are touching and your feet are in a V shape.
  13. Change your axis to the left leg. Bend the left knee slightly, and extend the right leg forward from the hip. Keep contact with the floor with the base of the little toe pointing in the 2 o’clock position until the leg is completely straight. This is called a forward opening on the right.
  14. Straighten the left knee and let the right leg close until the upper thighs are touching and your feet are in a V shape.

Learn more about Gotta Tango.