Buenos Aires basics (Popular tango moves 2)

Ocho cortado turn

Because ocho cortado has two distinguishable parts (rebound bk/fd and step; rebound sd/sd and step), it  lends itself to endless variations of the type that I call fillings: imagine the ocho cortado as really yummy bread with various things in the middle. A favorite is inserting a right turn into the ocho cortado:

  1. Execute the first rebound (bk/fd for follower, fd/bk for leader) and the step (fd for follower, bk for leader), so that the follower steps to the leader's right/inside track.
  2. Turn is follower's open, back, open, front steps. The traditional timing, which I advocate, is slow, quick, quick, slow.
  3. End with terminal rebound and close of ocho cortado (sd/sd rebound, with circular component): follower rebounds left/right and closes in front with left, like going to the cross; leader rebounds right/left with a VERY SMALL step, focusing more on making the rebound circular for the follower in order to aid in closing into the cross. If you want to exit in parallel, the leader shifts weight onto the right while leading the cross.

Ocho cortado with sacada

The step above can have a leader's sacada (displacement/replacement) through the first open, or side step, of the turn in step #2 above. This makes the turn have a more dynamic feeling. It may be sacrilege to suggest this, but I think that a lot of milongueros with whom I danced this move in Buenos Aires, did this move by accident! Some of the older dancers did not have very much flexibility, and instead of twisting to the right to initiate my turn, they stepped through my first step to build momentum :-)

  • The leader can do this with either foot, but it is easier to use right foot because it's already free.
  • Remember that you are leading a turn, and your torso needs to continue to tell the follower to travel around the perimeter of the circle; do NOT abandon the follower to move yourself.
  • The leader's step needs to go towards where the follower had been: towards the follower's right foot placement of the open step. 
  • Once you land in the new location, remember to remain upright! If your axis tilts, this makes the turn very hard for the follower to complete elegantly.
  • Followers: this version of the turn is a bit harder than a completely stationary turn because the center of the turn moves while you turn around it. Keep your own axis upright, and everything will go better.
  • End with the standard second half of the ocho cortado.
  • If sacadas are new to you, look at my posts about sacadas.

My favorite variation to end ocho cortado turns

If you are bored with the turn above, try removing the second half of the ocho cortado (rebound sd/sd and step) from the pattern, and exit the turn a different way. This is the step we've been working on perfecting in the Portland intermediate class recently. This truncates the follower's turn to the first two steps, open and back, and exits linearly

Exit on follower's back cross step

  1. As the follower lands on the back cross step of the turn, LIGHTLY (remember la marca?) lift so that the follower stays on that foot (her/his right).
  2. Allow the follower's hips to unwind. Followers: this is a fun place to play with an adorno!
  3. Release the lift.
  4. Exit.  I prefer walking to the cross in crossed system because as a follower, twisting back the other way is not very comfortable.

Trouble-shooting this move

As I watched the class learn this move, I realized that many people try to follow the steps exactly, even if the weight distribution and balance are not working. It is much more important to be on balance here than to remain perfectly in place. May I suggest:

  • Followers: Make sure your turn has strong, balanced hip movement. If you swing your leg to make turns, don't! Your hips are the motor of the turn, allowing you to keep a tight, elegant, on-balance giro around the leader. This will  keep you the same distance away from the leader, helping both of you balance.
  • Leaders: If you don't twist easily or you tend to fall over when you twist your torso, consider taking an extra step--or two, or three! When the follower lands on the back step and you lift lightly, move over in front of them (a baby calesita), rotating around the fixed point of the follower's axis, until both people are on balance and facing down the line of dance to exit.

Good luck and have fun!