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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 Back Corte

by Harold & Meredith Sears

We need to be a little careful with the tango cortes. We have a Corte, a Side Corte, an Advanced Corte, and a Back Corte. They range from phase III to phase V, and from one to four steps. The plain Corte is one back step, lowering, but the true Back Corte is four steps, taking 1 1/2 measures.

In closed position, perhaps facing line and wall, step back L with left shoulder lead and a little lowering (woman fwd R with right shoulder lead), step bk R (woman fwd L) turning LF, continue turning and step side and fwd L (woman sd & bk R), and close R to L to end in closed position facing line and center (sqqs for the four weight changes).

A "corte" is a step, whether to the side or back, and then subsequent lowering and shaping. It is a sort-of "dip." So in the Back Corte, the first step is really the corte, and the rest of the figure is a Closed Finish or a Box Finish — "corte to a closed finish."

If you look at another tango figure, the Rock Turn, you see that it looks to be a rock back L (W fwd R) recover R to this four-step Back Corte. Some choreographers blur the line between the "rock turn" part of this figure and the "back corte" part by calling for a "rock turn (qqs) to a back corte (qqs)." In this formulation, the last step of the one measure rock turn (qqs) (unphased; not standard) is really the first step of the Back Corte (sqqs). It seems that this sort of crossing measures and using a single step as the last step of one figure and also the first step of another is not uncommon, although it feels uncomfortable to round dancers, who like to have clean definitions to each of their figures.

In Libertango by Lamberty, part B starts with a walk 2 (ss); to a rock turn (qqs;) back rocks (qqs); quick back corte (qqqq); to a forward, side, to an outside swivel to SCP (qqs). Notice that Lamberty is using a four-step Back Corte, although with "quick" timing.

In Noche de Amor by the Gosses, part A starts with a link to an open promenade (qqsqqs); rock 3 (qqs); back corte (qqs); to an open reverse turn and closed finish (qqsqqs). In this dance, the last step of the rock 3 is also the first step of our standard Back Corte.


More tango figures here, or go to index.


This article was published in the Dixie Round Dance Council (DRDC) Newsletter, October, 2010.



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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