A Gancho (English "hook") is a move where the follower hooks their leg round the leader. The most basic form involves a sharp leg movement back and behind a leader's leg. It's one of those moves that makes tango visually fascinating.
Family of moves. The follower's hooking leg movement can take many forms, coming from the front or back of the leader, with a backward or forward leg movement, fast or slow, the follower reverses direction or not, etc. These variations are often categorized as enganche, wrap, piernazo, etc. These notes consider all "hooking" moves to be included in the gancho family.
Caution. Whenever a high heel is being flung somewhere, there is a danger of hitting another dancer - or your partner. On a spacious dance floor there is little danger, but the Gancho is inadvisable or even forbidden when dancers are tightly packed.
Advice to leaders
- Getting the follower close and aligned correctly is critically important.
- Make room for the follower's leg by flexing the knee and going up on the toe of the leg to be ganchoed.
- Ganchos may feel quite different on the two sides because the embrace is asymmetric.
- Leading the follower to the correct position may require a substantial adjustment to the embrace.
Advice to followers
- From hip not knee. Swing the leg from the hip; don't just bend the knee. The knee should bend naturally as the leg swings. Don't do a "knee gancho".
- Don't lean back.
- Alternative. If the leader fails to place you in a good gancho position, a front boleo is a good alternative.
Most popular ganchos
By far the most popular introductory ganchos are from back ochos. Perhaps the next most popular may be from front ochos. You will find good introductory videos on these two below.
Introductory Gancho Videos
- From Back Ocho. Linked Ganchos / El Pulpo Style Ganchos 17:43 Dec 3, 2014
- Introductory lesson is from 4:03 to 11:25; Don't stop watching when you get to the misleading title screen; go all the way to minute 11:25. By Clint Rauscher and Shelly Brooks. Starts with a demo followed by instruction. This is the best introduction to ganchos from a back ocho that I've see. The remainder of the video covers the much harder linked ganchos, which are best to avoid until you are an experienced dancer.
- From Front Ocho. How to do the Hook aka the Gancho 3:29 Apr 28, 2012
- By Diego Blanco & Ana Padrón. Nice introduction to the Gancho done from a front ocho.
More advanced Gancho moves
- Creative Ganchos I: Reverse Ganchos and Twisty Ganchos 9:13 Apr 23, 2013
- By Clint Rauscher & Shelley Brooks. Instructional video with interesting gancho variations.
- Smooth Ganchos and Exits 8:18 Jun 24, 2016
- By Homer and Cristina Ladas. Instruction and demo. There's the usual discussion of a fairly general nature, but the demo that follows is rich in advanced Gancho variations.
- Linked Ganchos / El Pulpo Style Ganchos 17:43 Dec 3, 2014
- By Clint Rauscher and Shelly Brooks. Starts with a demo followed by instruction.
- 04:03-11:25 - Good review of basic back ocho gancho technique.
- 11:25 - Interesting combination of ganchos.
- 14:50 - Exercise for both sides and coming from both front and back.
- 15:30 - Man moves leg.
- 16:10 - Three linked ganchos.
- 17:13 - Another variation on linked ganchos.
- Piernazo 2:11 Jun 4, 2010
- Demo by Michelle & Joachim. Graceful dancing illustrating follower's leg going around leader's waist or thigh.
- Tango 305: The Gancho 3:07 May 2, 2017
Tango 305: Gancho from Back Ocho 3:04 Nov 21, 2017
Tango 305: Ganchos 2:07 May 17, 2019
- Three demo videos by LA Tango Academy (Emma Bogren & Richard Cepeda). Demo.
- TangoForge Argentine Tango Elements: Gancho 2:03 May 9, 2017
- By TangoForge. A summary of gancho possibilities. Peculiar, but interesting. Note the unique terminology referring to the leader as the "mark" and the follower as the "rebel".