3a. Basic Front Ochos

"OCHOS" means "eights" and is meant to suggest that if two of these were led consequtively, the feet of the the dancer doing them, usually the follower, would draw the number 8. An ocho is a step, either forward or backward, in a direction other than straight ahead or straight back, using the leg furthest from the landing point of the step. For illustration, consider the face of a clock.

If the follower were in the center of the face and 12 o'clock were straight ahead and 6 o'clock were directly behind her, a forward ocho could be a forward step to 10 o'clock or 9 o'clock or even 8 o'clock if it were made with the lady's right, the foot furthest from 10 o'clock, etc. If the step were made with the lady's left to 10 o'clock, it would not be considered an ocho. Similarly, if the lady stepped back with her left towards 4 o'clock, that would be a back ocho.

This chapter will look at front ochos and back ochos which are the foundation for many beautiful figures in tango.

The follower's steps of the ocho
are as long as the leader's are
wide. Leaders determine the length
of steps here and generally.
The couple's chests remain
oriented toward each other
even though she is stepping
perpendicular to him.
THE LEADER steps to the left, and quickly brings his right together with his left (he has taken 2 steps at this point while the follower has taken just 1). At the same time as he brings his right together with his left, he rotates the follower 90 degrees.

He then steps to the left again, which causes the follower to step forward. When he feels that the follower's weight has shifted to her front foot, he rotates his chest slightly, which leads her to complete the pivot. Remember that this chest rotation is VERY SLIGHT. It is surprising how subtle the chest rotation can be to communicate the pivot to the follower. In fact, if you rotate your chest too much, your follower will begin to feel as if she is being shoved around.

Do not try to rotate your partner with your arms because this will create an unsteady lead and push her off her balance. Let her follow the motion of your chest. Finally, wait to lead the pivot of the ocho until her weight has completely shifted to the front foot. If you try to pivot her when her weight is not squarely over one foot, she will again be pushed off balance.

THE FOLLOWER, as always, concentrates on staying connected with her partner. If you stay connected and try to face your partner as much as possible (given your perpendicular body positions), you will naturally feel yourself being pulled to step and rotate into the ocho. A good connection with your partner will also lead you to take steps that are as long as his are wide. If the steps of your ochos are too short or too long, you will be pulled off balance. Make sure you bring your feet together as you pivot in your ochos. This will help create clean, polished ochos.

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