The boleo is an embellishment caused by the 'whip' action of the follower, executed when an ocho is quickly reversed in the middle. The follower's free foot is thrown to the side and wraps around her leg at the knee. It is considered an embellishment because the follower forces her pelvis to disassociate from her upper half during the rotation, allowing her free leg to be thrown up and around in a decorative flourish. It should be noted that the actual whipping action of the leg during a boleo is called the latigazo (lash).
There are two variations of the boleo: back and front.
Boleo Para Atrás (Back Ocho)
The change in rotation results in the backward, swinging action of the free leg.
Boleo De Frente (Forward Ocho)
The change in rotation results in the free leg wrapping around the front of the supporting leg.
Multiple boleos - Alp y Paula Tango
Boleo (back followed by front) - from Dario's Tango Guide
Boleo (both back and front) - Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes
Front Boleo - David and Mariana
Take the Embellishments Tour
The following tango embellishments are covered by clicking on the relevant links below. Each page gives further details and instructional videos on each embellishment.
AGUJA (NEEDLE) - this embellishment is performed by the lead keeping his free foot vertical whilst pivoting, as the follower dances around him.
AMAGUE (FEINT) - the embellishment is a 'fake move' such as a foot stamping, or by leading a step to the side of the follower, but quickly reversing.
BOLEO (WHIP) - here the follower's free foot is thrown to the side and wraps around her leg at the knees, and her upper body counter-rotates, when an ocho is reversed in the middle. There are two variations: back boleo and front boleo.
CARICIA (CARESS) - this is a most sensual tango embellishment, which has two variations. The lustrada has the follower caressing the supporting leg of the lead. In the castigada the follower caresses her own supporting leg.
CUATRO (FOUR) - in the cuatro, the follower flicks the lower part of her free leg backwards and up, creating the numeral 4 in profile.
ENROSCAR (SCREW) - this embellishment is performed by the lead keeping his free foot behind his supporting foot whilst pivoting, as the follower dances around him. A variation is the counter-enroscar in which the free foot is kept in front of the supporting foot.
GANCHO (HOOK) - this embellishment has either the lead or follower swing their free leg to hook it around their partner's supporting leg, and then quickly release it. A variation is the gancho pasajero in which the gancho is executed during a transition between one step and another.
GOLPETICO (TAP) - this is a simple tango embellishment in which the foot is tapped. It has a number of variations including the punto (tapping with the toe), golpeteo (tapping with the underside of the foot), fanfarron (rhythmic tap in time to the music), picado (upward flick of the heel) and zapatato (tapping the shoes together).
INTRUSION - here the free foot is quickly kicked in and out from the space between the partner's legs. It requires very good timing.
RULO (CIRCLE) - this embellishment is executed by drawing circles on the floor with the free leg.
SENTADA (SITTING) - this is a show-tango embellishment in which the follower mounts the lead's supporting leg.
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