Although many people in the USA teach "the" ocho cortado, there are tons of variations of this step in reality. I use these a lot in my dance, and teach two variations in my Top 10 Tango Moves class, and four or five other ones in my Next 10 Tango Moves when I teach milonga.
The easiest version is lateral ocho cortado. This version does not require the follower to pivot, making it both elegant and easy to do, even as a beginner.
Explanation in words:
- Leader does a rebound (rock step, traspie, whatever you like to call it) forward line-of-dance, beginning with the left foot, and comes back to place. Follower does a back-front, stepping back on the right and forward on the left, back to place. Remember that you each have your own "lane" instead of stepping in front of your partner.
- Leader steps back one step with the left. Make sure that you use contrabody (facing the follower) to allow both people to stay in their own "lane" and thus not step on each other. Follower steps forward with the right.
- Leader does a side rebound and returns to place (right, left). Follower does a side rebound simultaneously, starting with the left and returning to place on the right foot.
- Leader does contrabody to right (normal contrabody) and steps line-of-dance with the right. Follower steps back with the left.
- All slow counts. This takes six slow counts. I prefer this way as it is more elegant for milonga and tango, unless the music is too slow. I also prefer this way for fast vals.
- Quick quick slow, quick quick slow, with the rebounds being quick, quick, and the steps being slow. This works well for slow vals (remember that in this case, the counts are not even), and for slow milonga, as well as for tango in a rhythmic tune.
Note on stepping back
Many of my students have looked alarmed and said, "Step BACK??" Yes, however, I often do this step on a slight diagonal, so that I can see over my shoulder. That way, if I am thinking of backing up, I know whether I have room to take a step back or not. This move works well with two walking steps to start, in which case, you are only backing up one of those initial steps. In a crowded space, remember that steps can be SMALL!
OK, go practice!