3c. Basic Back Ochos

These back ochos are done with a 180 degree pivot, although they can be done with greater or lesser (usually lesser) rotation in various figures. Practice and perfect your back ochos, since they make frequent appearances in tango.

THE LEADER leads ochos by taking a side step, bringing his feet together, and shifting his weight. At this point, he has taken 2 steps while the follower has taken 1. As he does this, he rotates his partner 180 degrees so that she is prepared to step backward into ochos.
She orients her chest toward
him, even though she cannot
face him. She is stepping
straight back with steps that
are as long as his are
wide.

From another angle --
Here, she has just pivoted
and is stepping back into an
ocho. She steps straight back
just as she does when she
walks backward in a straight
line. Her legs do not cross
because prior to the back step
she has changed direction by
swiveling her hips.

As you lead ochos, maintain a solid frame. Keep your arms in front of you and do not let them be loose at the shoulders. If you keep a solid frame, you will probably be surprised at how little you need to rotate your chest to communicate a 180 degree pivot to your partner.

Resist the urge to pivot your partner by cranking her with your arms. This will create awkward, uneven movements. It is also likely to throw your partner off balance. Your arms should move only because they are an extension of your chest, which is rotating, albeit very slightly.

THE FOLLOWER should think of the ocho simply as a step straight back with a pivot at the end (usually about 180 degrees or slightly less). Your legs should not cross each other when you step back. In other words, your feet should continue to be on parallel tracks when you do ochos just as they are when you walk in a straight line.

You will feel the impulse to cross your legs when you step back if you are not pivoting you hips enough. Concentrate on rotating you hips a full 180 degrees so that you can step straight back. This hip rotation is difficult at first and many followers struggle with it. Since the back ocho is an important figure in tango, practicing it will improve your tango tremendously.

Remember, that you want to keep your chest oriented towards your partner as you do ochos even though you will not be able to squarely face him. Remember, also to take steps that are as long as his are wide, unless he leads you to take a shorter or longer step. Finally, do not try to pivot until you've shifted your weight completely to the back foot. If you try to pivot before your weight is entirely over one foot, your ochos will be wobbly.

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