Friday, June 7, 2013

Ocho Cortados (Intermediate)

Song:  La Melodia de Noche Adios by Rafael Canaro
Instructors: Homer & Cristina Ladas
May 26, 2013, England International Tango Festival (at Ardingly College, Haywards Heath, West Sussex)

What does ocho cortado mean? It means cut ocho.

We began with ochos to the leader’s right, bringing his partner back around, and getting back into the line of dance.  The forward step is truncated into a forward cross step.

Rock step. Follower forward step outside partner to side step, into the Follower’s cross (left foot over right).

There is more than one way to do the ocho cortado. 

Always try to face your partner as much as possible.

We are not going to do the version with the Leader stop/sacada on the Follower’s side step version.

We did linear ocho cortados as dancers are going on a line. Then we introduced turns to the right (clockwise) get circular ocho cortados where we end up opposite line of dance.

Leader’s footwork:
Left foot rock step forward with little weight
Right foot cross behind (put weight on left foot)
Pivot around to face the opposite line of dance.
Right foot opens up clockwise
With weight still on the left foot, pivot back
Left foot rocks around

Follower’s footwork:
Right foot rock step back with heel raised (it’s a touch)
Right foot rock step forward, taking a long forward step around the Leader as the Leader rotates around
Left foot side open step with weight centered
Leader reverses rotation to left which leads the Follower to cross left over right, nice and tight.
Unwind and right leg is free to step back

Follower:  Let your right shoulder float, do not push into the Leader with your right hand.

The idea of the isosceles triangle was introduced, where for the Follower’s left foot placement on her side step, her feet need to be near the Leader. 

This is the critical part of the class:  The Golden Rule

In close embrace, we are tilted forward but have vertical energy up, not out, with chest up.  On the Follower’s side step, there is a pause afterward. At this point, the Follower’s hips are parallel to the Leader.  This is where the Isosceles triangle is: Each of the Follower’s feet are equal distant from the Leader.  When the Leader stops turning, the Follower’s left foot stops and lands on the floor.

We drilled this in close embrace with chests touching but space below so our bellies didn’t touch and our legs are long, and there is flex at the ankles.

Common themes:

Follower’s right hand/shoulder:  Let the shoulders float. Let the elbows float.  They are not in a fixed position and not tense and rigid. They are alive.  Cristina’s way of releasing tension in that area is to adjust her hands.  In tango, the communication is from the chest, not the arm.

Tomato Sandwich:
Homer is the tomato in a sandwich and Cristina’s left hand is one slice of bread, and her chest is the other slice of bread.

Follower: remember the limit on the side step; you can take a long step, as long as you stay with the Leader and do not get ahead or behind him.

Moving on, things to do to play:
The Shimmy (based on the American dance the Twist).  Here, we really work the knees. The Follower does the twist.  What is the lead for it? The Leader plants in the middle and then rotates his chest by turning his spine very little, like he’s trying to wake up the sleeping fish in his fish bowl.  The knees do all the work so the Follower’s body stays with the Leader and her sternum is still straight.

Bigger rotation back into the cross, and can uncross to do sequential crosses. 

Felipe Martinez Reverse Ocho Cortado

From the perpendicular position, in the Felipe Reverse Ocho Cortado, the Leader gets the follower into position where she hooks behind, not in front.  The Follower’s cross is a left foot back cross tuck (not a left foot front cross tuck in front of her pivoted right foot), to a right foot forward step, to a right foot pivot counterclockwise back into a normal left foot front cross tuck.

The Leader goes beyond the Golden Rule where the Leader rotates his spine to rotate beyond the Golden Rule a lot.  His right hand releases so he can get the Follower go and so she gets a larger range of motion. Their hips are perpendicular and the dancers are no longer in close embrace.  The Leader engages the embrace with a bit of compression, and leads them diagonally out so she crosses beyond.  The Leader turns to the left back into normal resolution.  The Leader makes a weight transfer from the right to the left at the point of making the Follower do her back cross.  

The Follower’s left foot side step before her left foot back cross tuck needs to be really circular and around the Leader so she can end up perpendicular to him. She also needs to accept the transition from close to open embrace.

Maestros concluded with a class quiz and a demo to La Melodia de Noche Adios by Rafael Canaro. 

Notes courtesy of Anne at

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