Make your giros yummy by bringing them down to the bare essentials
Argentine Tango Technique for some "yummy" giros

Last week we talked about how we can use embellishments to practice on important Tango elements.
With a simple embellishment, we saw how we can practice balance, posture, disassociation, ochos, timing and much more.
Today we are going to take things a bit further by unweaving our giros step pattern!
What is a giros exactly?
gyrosPhoto credit: thy khuê via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND
Oups! Not this one..? haha
Ok!
So a giro is a sequence where, the follower–usually–is moving AROUND the leader.
It can be done in an open or a close embrace. It usually follows slow-slow-quick-quick-slow rhythmical pattern. And it might be of high or low speed.
In terms of footwork, a giro is basically a combination of steps and pivots. Specifically, forward, back and side steps combined with forward and back pivots.

You want the video now, don’t you?
Here you go: A practice drill for some yummy giros
Go to 0:16 to see the actual giros step.
What causes trouble in the giros?
The most common problems followers have in giros are:

“I feel off balance, especially during the back ocho…If I try to make it bigger I fall back, if not, I am moving away from my partner”
“Relying to much on my partner for balance. As I am going around, my partner complains that I am dropping all my weight on him…”
“I am feeling like I can’t keep up…either my steps are too small, or my timing is off, or both…?”

Any of these ring a bell, or many bells..? Mmmm…Yes! I know…

So, what are you noticing though?
The first problem has to do with big back ochos, the second one has to do with body alignment and the third one with steps and timing of the giros…So, aside for the timing, the rest have little to do with the giros itself.

NOW PAY ATTENTION here, this is super important, not only for the sequence we are looking into today, BUT for every sequence in Tango!

The giros reveals the technical problems the followers have. Meaning, you are not having trouble with the back ocho because your gyros is not good enough. You are having trouble in your giros because your back ochos are not good enough… Two completely different problems.
Same goes for body alignment, power/ size of your steps, disassociation, posture, even timing!

The giros is not the problem, you are messing these things up even when you are not doing a giros, you just hadn’t realized.
How can we fix it?
All right, lets go back to our video here:

A practice drill for a yummy giros

As you can see I am taking the sequence and I am breaking it down to its bare essential pieces.
Side step, forward step, pivot, side step, back pivot, back step.

When you see it written out this way, it is quite clear what you need to work on:
Walks–forward, side and back
Ochos– front and back

That’s it! If you make those better, your giros WILL be better!

As you can see in the video, in order to practice those elements I put  together, a LINEAR combo of side steps and forward/back ochos.
I start off against the mirror, not only for balance but so I can make sure that I am keeping my distance between me and my artificial partner the SAME throughout the drill.

Not having to go around, I get the chance to:

  1. focus on my footwork
  2. work on the power of my steps, without jeopardizing my balance
  3. alignment and posture
  4. disassociation
  5. transitioning smoothly from one step to the next AND
  6. timing between my steps and pivots

And then I put ALL that to the test…NO partner!

Doing the “NO PARTNER” test will give you great insight. Try to identify which part of the sequence is working out for you and which is giving you trouble.
Don’t just go through the movements, try to see where you are lacking. When you have spotted the culprit, practice on THAT!

For example, say that when you step away from the mirror, during your forward ochos you are having trouble keeping your balance.

STOP RIGHT THERE! Practice your forward ochos ONLY!
Why?
That is what is causing the trouble. If you can’t do it, following  a straight line what makes you think you can do them in a circle?

Do the same thing for any other component…
Don’t go back to the BASICS go back to bare ESSENTIALS
What we did above with the giros you can and SHOULD do for every sequence, from the simplest one to the most intricate!

Why?
First of all, even if you don’t fully remember the sequence–see I know you now ALL too WELL..haha–you can still practice parts of it.

Secondly, to get better at something you need to be able to identify, what it is that is holding you back from progressing. When you have a whole sequence to practice on, it will take a long time and many repetitions to find what it is that makes the whole or part of the sequence go wrong. If you break it down, in a matter of minutes you will know, what it is you need to focus on.

Thirdly, when you break the sequence apart, you can put it  back together in MANY different ways…and work on your improvisation skills too!
Like I am doing with the box/cross/basic step, or however you want to call it.

Fourthly, you don’t have to be an advanced dancer, or to know many sequences to start practicing. Even a SINGLE forward step can be broken down to: Projection, shift of weight and collection.
Work on each one of these elements separately, find the culprit, fix it and your forward steps WILL become better.

Have fun! ?

-Chrisa

Story posted by: Chrisa Assis

About the author: Dance Teacher, Professional Dancer, Writer from Toronto

Published: 31 Mar 2017 @ 15:21

Last modified: 8 Mar 2021 @ 20:20

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