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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 Flick

by Harold & Meredith Sears

Both of these actions are done in semi-closed position (SCP). There is no weight change; these are "picture actions." To do a Head Flick, the man quickly rotates his hips right (CW) and then left (CCW) to cause the woman to snap her head left and then right. She sharply closes her head -- we are ever so briefly in closed position -- and then she opens it again to SCP. The man's head turns little if at all.

For this action to work, we must be in tight SCP with lower torsos, from the bottom of the rib cage down, in contact. This is not an unreasonable expectation -- it is simply a good tango SCP -- but we mustn't relax and drift apart. He can't turn her if he isn't touching her. It's like two gears oriented horizontally and next to each other. If the the gears are together and the cogs enmeshed, then the one gear can turn right and the other will turn left. If the cogs are not enmeshed, the one gear can turn, but the other won't feel it.

It is always important for the woman to wait for the man's lead before dancing a figure. This is what allows you to dance together, as one. But in the Head Flick, it is especially important to let the man "flick" the woman's head. If she passively allows herself to respond to his movement, it is surprisingly comfortable for her, and it looks classy. If she flicks her own head in response to the cue, the sharp movement is an uncomfortable strain on tiny muscles in the neck, and on top of that, it looks odd -- a spasm -- a tic instead of a flick. Again, the man is responsible for the Head Flick. If he doesn't do it, she should not move.

To do a Foot Flick, in SCP, the man does a tiny brush/tap with his lead foot. In the process, he pushes with his left knee on the outside of her right knee, and she flicks her right foot back and replaces it to tap position. Notice that the man does not flick his foot. There is no lead for the woman if he does.

The Foot Flick itself is a sharp bending of the knee and straightening it again. If she were to do it by herself, it is as though she has a pebble trapped under the toes of her right foot and she wants to propel that pebble back behind her. She shoots it back with a sharp flip. Of course, she can do a Foot Flick by herself, and it doesn't seem to look as odd as an independent Head Flick does, but dancing together still looks better. For good lead and follow here, we must again be in tight SCP with hips together and lead legs in contact. If you're apart from each other, and he bangs his knee into her leg from a distance, it won't feel good. The lead is the slightest nudge from a knee already touching.

It's interesting to compare these two flicks. For a Head Flick, he nudges her with his left hip; for a Foot Flick, he nudges her with his left knee. Do both, and I suppose she would flick both?

More tango figures here, or go to index.

This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, April, 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

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