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One Figure 

A Step is a movement of the foot from here to there. A Figure is a specific sequence of steps forming a set that is complete, is often standardized, and is widely accepted and used as one component of a dance routine.

Tango Chase

by Harold & Meredith Sears

The Chase is a one-and-a-half measure figure (SQQQQ) that takes us from semi-closed position, usually facing line of dance, to closed position, diagonal reverse and center. In SCP, the man steps side and forward L and the lady side and forward R (S). On steps 2 and 3, we step forward on the trail feet and then side on the lead feet (QQ) to closed position, man facing wall. This involves a little RF turn for the man and LF turn for the lady. Then the man steps forward R outside partner (W bk L) turning sharply RF to banjo position checking, and recovers back L (woman fwd R) turning RF to end in closed position facing DRC (QQ).

In an effort to connect this unfamiliar figure to something we already know, we might try to think of it as a forward, curved feather check, and recover back. We might even get careless and dance it this way, with curving steps. We dance so many foxtrots and waltzes that it is easy to fall back into the habit of smooth styling and flowing movements, but tango is sharp movements punctuated with static pauses. In the Chase, step 2 involves a sharp 1/8 turn (M RF, W LF). Step 3 is side, checking, to a tango closed position (lady well into man's right arm). Step 4 involves a sharp RF turn, checking again. In essence, the lady is wound up a bit to the left and then turned sharply to the right—bang, bang. We really don't want to dance a smooth, graceful curve.

Another "gotcha" is often the exit. Some regard the Chase as a six-step figure (SQQQQS), the last step being a side step and sharp RF turn to end in SCP facing DLC. But most round dances omit this last step and instead exit with something else, which is separately cued. For instance, in Caminito by the Worlocks, there is a Chase (SQQQQ) to a Right Chasse to a Whisk (Q&QS). The turn out of the Chase continues right-face, and we end the sequence in SCP RLOD. In Diosa Marina by the Schmidts, there is an even stronger RF exit. We do the same Chase (SQQQQ) to a right-turning Chasse and Brush Tap (Q&Q&S) to SCP LOD.

On the other hand, in Fiesta Tango by the Palmquists, we dance our Chase (SQQQQ) to a back lock back side close (Q&QQQ), Contra Check and extend (SS). This time, we have turned left to CP WALL. In Jealousy Tango by the Gosses, we dance the same sequence and then Tap to SCP LOD.

In dancing a Chase, we can focus on two features. First, dance each step sharply with no smooth body flow. Second, after checking and stepping back, center yourselves and be ready for either a continuation of the right-face couple rotation or a reversal to left-face rotation. Our exit can go either way.

More tango figures here, or go to index.

This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, June, 2011.


If you would like to read other articles on dance position, technique, styling, and specific dance rhythms, you may visit the article TOC.

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Past DRDC Educational Articles by
Jim & Barbara German, ca. 2000-2001
Chris & Terri Cantrell, 2001-2005
Harold & Meredith Sears, 2005-present

Some articles and dance helps by
Sandi & Dan Finch
Gert-Jan & Susie Rotscheid (see Notebook)

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