The gancho refers to any move in which one or other - even both - partners briefly hook their lower leg around their partner's thigh.
There are many starting positions but the line of the leader and follower's legs will will generally form a "T".
Usually, the leader moves his relaxed, weightless leg out sideways so that his foot finds and hooks around the ankle of his follower's weighted leg as she is turned to collect on a backward step. The gancho happens because the collect is blocked.
On lateral ganchos, the leader moves his relaxed, weightless lower leg out forwards past his follower's kneeline close to his follower's freeing leg as she is turned to collect on an open step.
The gancho happens because the collect is blocked.
Great care is needed, especially on busy dance floors, to maintain balance and keep the hooked leg within the couple's space to avoid injury to other dancers. A gancho during the tango is an interruption of a step. In the process of taking the step, your thigh comes in contact with your partner's leg and you allow your lower leg to swing up to complete the gancho. Follow these steps to learn how to do a gancho as either a follower or a leader.
Do a Gancho as a Follower
- Take your regular step. Because a gancho is an interruption of a step, keep your focus on the regular step your partner is leading. If you try to accommodate his lead because you know he wants you to do a gancho, the resulting gancho will be artificial.
- Stay open to your leader at the end of your step. Some ganchos require an additional pivot to be comfortable for both follower and leader. If you follow your leader, you can pick up on this pivot and be able to execute the gancho.
- Allow your thigh to strike his leg first, then allow your lower leg to swing upwards. The best gancho is a natural gancho rather than an actual kick or lift of the leg. However, once you become comfortable with ganchos, you can play with the intensity and momentum of your movement.
- Let your leg fall naturally back to a gather, or bring it into the next step if he leads you to. Once you are comfortable with ganchos, you can occasionally play with holding your leg against the leader's leg for a moment if it fits with the music and with your dance style.
- Steal a gancho wherever you find one. When you have an opportunity and enough time, you can gancho your dance partner. Only try this after you have mastered ganchos and have strong following skills, or else you may end up tripping your partner.
- Realize that your partner may do a gancho to you. As in all tango steps, as long as you listen to his lead—even if it seems like he's asking for something unusual—you will do the right thing with your body and will be able to accommodate his gancho.
Do a Gancho as a Leader
- Keep your partner close to you. If she is far away when you prepare for the gancho, you won't be able complete your gancho.
- Lead your partner into a forward step and then block it, stopping her so her weight is distributed between her feet. Most of her weight should be on the leg that you are going to gancho.
- Make sure there is enough space for a gancho. A follower won't appreciate it if you try to do a gancho and instead kick her shin. Practice to explore the amount of space you need to effectively do a gancho.
- Gancho her. Allow your thigh to come in contact with her leg, and then allow your lower leg to naturally swing up to meet her leg. Bring your leg naturally into its next step.
- Play with the musicality of the movement after you master the gancho. Use it to emphasize beats in passages of your favorite tangos.
- Realize that your follower may gancho you even if you don't lead it. Whenever she senses the opportunity and the timing, she may steal a gancho. Be sensitive to her additions to the dance.
Tango Lesson: Overturned Ocho into Gancho
Tango Guide The Hook (Gancho)