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Circular Ocho Cortado – Tango Topics

The Circular Ocho Cortado

The Circular Ocho Cortado. First let’s get the language out of the way. The phrase “Ocho Cortado” translates from the Spanish to English like so: ‘Ocho’ translates as the number 8. ‘Cortado’ comes from the root Spanish -AR verb ‘CortAR’ which translates as the infinitive ‘to Cut’ (or to Slice). However, you’ll notice that there’s an ‘ADO’ ending on the verb, which is akin to an ‘ed’ ending of a verb in English as in ‘HelpED’ or ‘LikED’, or ‘WalkED’. It’s the past participle version of the word. 🙂 However, when you put them together the translated phrase almost makes no sense. So we have to move things around a bit for it make sense to an English speaker. So ‘8 Cut-ed’ makes absolutely no sense, however if we invert the words so that it becomes ‘Cut-ed 8’, it starts to make a bit more sense. Typically when dealing with other languages we end up having to infer the meaning. ‘Cut-ed’ in English makes no sense, however…it’s secondary meaning does, ‘SlicED’! A ’SlicED 8’ or Half of an 8! So quite rightfully an Ocho Cortado is a HalvED 8! Language lesson over….

There are two varieties of the Ocho Cortado, the Linear variety and Today’s Tango Topic: The Circular Ocho Cortado. In the case of the Linear Ocho Cortado, it really is a linear step. Meaning ? That it’s stretched out along a walking line. The vocabulary itself is really great for rounding corners, when you need to ‘cut’ a 90º corner. They’re great for musical interpretation elements. They’re great for cross play. And they’re even better when inverted! 🙂 However, the Linear Ocho Cortado is only taught in certain places. Tango Topics talks about the Linear Ocho Cortado as if it were the default Ocho Cortado. That is not the case. In other parts of the world, The Circular Ocho Cortado is the default and the Linear variety is weird one. In certain places the Linear variety is almost never taught, so you’ll never see it on a social dance floor at all. In certain places, the Circular variety is the odd man out and you’ll never see it either. So today without further adieu Tango Topics presents - The Circular Ocho Cortado. The OTHER Ocho Cortado. [Editorial Note: This site will be cleaning up the language for the Ocho Cortado in the other posts that deal with this to make the clear distinction of Linear vs. Circular.]

What is a ‘Circular’ Ocho Cortado ? Put simply it is leading the Follower to a Forward Ocho. However this is a very specific kind of Ocho that we only use for teaching purposes. In this particular case, that teaching Ocho is what’s sometimes called (and this site referred to as such) a ‘Linear Forward Ocho’. They’re called that because these ochos don’t go anywhere at all, and in fact they’re done directly in front of the Lead on a line. Hence the ‘Linear’ part of it’s name. 😉 The Lead invites the Follower to a Linear Forward Ocho across their body (to the open or closed side of the embrace, usually the closed side), and then interrupts that motion to invite a change of direction, and that change of direction is the Ocho part. The ‘Cortado’ part comes from the fact that only ONE HALF or one side of the Ocho is danced. Typically an complete Ocho is both sides of the 8 or the Applied Disassociation. However in this case, only one half is done, and as a result we have a Cortado or Halved 8. What makes it Circular is the fact that the Ocho itself is the circular part. The curvature of the opening step into and out of the Ocho (the applied disassociation part) Cortado where the Follower is at first stepping next to their Lead and then back to the same position again.

Difficulty Rating: 2.5 Stars2.5 / 5

Following Perspective. Usually when talking about Follower vocabulary this site mentions the reality that as a Follower you don’t really have a whole lot control over what is initiated and but that the Follower does have an inordinate amount of control over what is executed and HOW something is executed. This topic is a little different, and the reason is that it has to do with several factors, most notably that the Follower can mishear or misread (ahem…<sound of someone clearing their throat>….read that as ‘the Lead isn’t being clear with their invitation’) the Lead’s intention as one of four possible ideas. 1.) The incremental cross body step (video topic coming soon). 2.) The Linear Ocho Cortado. 3.) The Circular Ocho Cortado. and 4.) A Closed Side Molinete which starts with a Forward step across the Lead. Let’s talk about #4 for a moment. Typically the Closed Side Molinete starts with engaging the Follower’s back step. However in this instance we start with a Forward Step across the Lead. And as such, there is a moment of confusion as to what you as the Follower are being led to do. However, that moment of confusion stops right after the Follower’s Forward step across the lead ends. Why ? Because at that point, 3 very different decisions can happen. In the case of #1 - The Incremental, the Follower doesn’t transfer their weight forward, it’s an extension step without a weight transfer. So we can immediately discard that as an option. In the case of #2 - The Linear Cortado, the Lead will/should take a step to the side after the Forward step. We’ll get to this in a moment. and #4 the Lead continues to rotate into a side and there is a sensation of momentum. These three indicators are all very different from each other.

The Nitty-Gritty/The Real Deal. The fact is that if you have not mastered your disassociation and/or your applied disassociation then you can use a whole body ‘pivot’ but you are a.) sacrificing a very beautiful and elegant change of direction for you. and b.) you are more than likely using your Lead for stabilization everywhere and don’t realize that you’re doing it. You’re using your arms, and your hands for stabilization, and even micro-stabilization with your fingers! These stabilizations are NOT desirable at all in any way, shape, or form.

That said…

There are 3 things you want to be aware of when being led to an Circular Ocho Cortado.

One: Collection. Collection. Collection. Your collection into the Circular version is insanely important. While you can engage an elegant Lapíz or Planeo (not shown in the video), it’s sometimes not desirable to engage them, why ? Because you quite honestly don’t have the time, and as a result you may end up executing them poorly and then they look ‘sloppy’. And the last thing you want is sloppy execution especially when you’re dealing with ‘advanced’ ideas like that. So a good rule of them is to use the Lapíz and/or Planeo for the what this site refers to as “The Long ‘Stringy’ Note”. You can find this idea, in it’s simplest form here.

Two: Disassociation. It’s important that on your forward step, that you engage Disassociation, this will help you with ‘staying with your lead’s’ torso. It’s also a precursor to your Applied Disassociation, so it will also help with the execution of your ending Ocho!

Three: The Difference Between One & The Other. There is a clear and distinct difference between the Linear and the Circular varieties. The question you’re going to have is how do you know the difference between them ? The simplest answer to this question has everything to do with the Forward step across your lead. If the step continues, it’s a Linear. If it doesn’t then it’s a Circular Ocho Cortado.

The Caveat of Following. While this particular item that is about to be mentioned does get discussed with some frequency here, it’s very important that you, in the role of the Follower (passive, active, or ‘delicious’/delightful) that you not get stuck in the Lead’s Armpit! (See the Armpit Dancer) If you do, you’ll get left behind. A good portion of the Leads that you’re currently dancing with are on pseudo cruise control. Meaning they lead something and then expect you to interpret what’s been led. The lead is vague at best and you’re left to figure out what they meant and you have a half a nanosecond to figure out what THAT motion was. As a result when applied to the two varieties of the Ocho Cortado it’s even more vague. Because the lead isn’t so clear. 9 times out of 10 the Follower is supposed to ‘infer’ what was intended. And if you get it wrong (from a lack of mind reading skills…ahem) then the Follower is to blame for their clear (ahem) failure. When in fact, it’s not your fault. It’s the Lead’s fault for not being crystal clear with this stuff. And they need to be crystal clear. Unfortunately their idea of ‘crystal clear’ is to use their arms and hands to push, pull, squeeze, and compress the living daylights out of you to INSIST that you do X, Y, and Z. How does this relate to the Armpit Following that you don’t want to do ? Because of the fact that the lead isn’t clear, it’s vague, you’ll more than likely end up in the armpit of the Lead, which will make your job even harder regardless of what variety of Ocho Cortado was intended and/or executed! So here’s a helpful free tip: STAY OUT OF THE ARMPIT! Where do you want to be ? Buttons to Buttons, Sternum to Sternum. Right in front of your lead! At all times.

Leading Perspective. This is one of those times that your job as a lead is at once, insanely simple and at the same time, requires a bit more of you than your usual run of the mill idea of ‘dancing’.

The Key to the Circular Ocho Cortado functioning as advertised is in fact you employing Disassociation. Failure to accomplish this goal and you’re doing nothing more than pushing, pulling, and throwing your Follower around the floor. And while that may seem like you would never, ever in a million years do such a thing. Nor would you even conceive of it. And quite literally bristle at the idea that this page would even suggest such a thing…(ahem) the fact is that you do do this and quite frequently! This is called ‘Rushing the Follower’. A fair number of leads invoke this way of dancing. They believe or think that if they ‘just’ lead something that the Follower should…well…Follow it. With no cause or thought towards the whole reason why the lead is there in the first place…to GUIDE the Follower from point to point without being ‘pushy’ about it, or as it happens in Tango quite frequently “arm-y”. Meaning to use one’s arms (and hands) with physiological pressure, rigidity, tension, and force to indicate what is coming or intended next. So the whole of the Circular (not the Linear) Ocho Cortado relies on the fact that you must actually Lead your own disassociation without the use of your arms but in fact your torso! That’s it right there. That’s the toy. However, doing it properly and understanding the pitfalls of how and where this thing can and does go wrong is what today’s video is for. So that you can actually learn to lead it properly and avoid all of the many pitfalls of it. The vocabulary itself is insanely simple. But as with all things that are insanely simple, the devil is in the details. And the Circular Ocho Cortado has a lot of ‘details’ to it.

Smooth As Buttah. The fact is that this is a very elegant Change Of Direction. There are very few of these in Tango that aren’t ‘jerky’, and this one of them. The Circular Ocho Cortado has the potential to be a very elegant change of direction for you and your Follower. It’s also a wonderful opening to leading the Follower’s Molinete, and it also lends itself towards allowing for the Follower to employ a planeo or lapíz as they come around the Ocho, assuming they have the temerity of mind and more importantly you, as the Lead, create space for them to do so. How’s that ? You don’t rush them to accomplish what you’ve asked but instead ‘listen’ to the response of what you’ve led, and here’s the hard part, allow for the Follower to execute that. Assuming all things are equal here, the result will be a smooth Change of Direction for the Follower and you.

Disassociation. Think Ochos. Only for the Lead. You thought this was a skill that only the Follower needed to master ? Wrong thinking. This skill must be so ingrained in you that you have mastered your control over the speed, your posture as you rotate - no titling from side to side, you contain the motion (so that you don’t ‘spill’ the motion outside the longitudinal axial line - no wobbling), and most importantly the disassociation and the applied disassociation must be absolutely smooooooth, and not just in one direction, but both rotational directions (to the left - open side of the embrace, and the right - the closed side of the embrace). You must learn to do this independent of your Follower, and to do it slowly. This isn’t about speed but control. Every incremental motion must be smoothed out, no jerkiness. None. At no point along your applied disassociation can you jerk or lose control of the next stage of the rotation. It must all be slow, and controlled disassociation and then applied! 😉 If you think that’s going to take you a while to learn to do, you’d be right. This is not something you’re going to learn to do in 5 minutes, this takes time, patience, and ooodles of practice, hours, days, weeks, months and possibly years of daily practice to smooth out the rough spots in both directions. And remember that you want to be able to execute this stuff without the use of your arms or your Followers. This is independent control! Good luck, you’re going to need it. Gosh if only you had a Primer on this stuff, so that you could re-learn at your own pace in the comfort of your own home and correct your issues. If only there were a resource where you could see how this stuff is actually generated. [Disassociation - $12.99]

And just so that we’re clear about something, watching the video above is not going to create the necessary clear instruction that you absolutely need. No. You do need instruction on how to generate this stuff. Hence the link above.

One more thing: Going With The Follower. This site has talked about this item before, it is what drives the Ocho Transition Series of Videos. However, this idea is also present here in the Circular Ocho Cortado, and leading the Follower’s Molinete. You must in fact go WITH the Follower into their Ocho. What does that mean ? It means that you must match their motion to yours, while at the same time not rushing them to execute, all the while not pushing, pulling, compressing, squeezing or interrupting their motion at all in any way, shape, or form. This is the hard part of the Circular variety, this is the ‘requiring a bit more of you’ that was alluded to above. There are a few things that you have to do here in order to insure that the Follower hears the proper or correct message and doesn’t hear something else (as in the linear version of the cortado, or a molinete, or …. etc), that’s why this video exists.

dancing in a small space ? try these articles!


Dancing Perspective ? The Circular Ocho Cortado when executed nicely, in time to the music, can be a lovely showpiece for both Lead and Follow to show each other off. From the Lead’s perspective it shows that they listen to their Follower, and are not rough with them but actually lead and guide the Follower gently. From the Follower’s perspective it creates yet another opportunity show off the Follower’s Unused Forward Step of the Dance! At the same time, a good portion of the time, once a Lead learns this piece of vocabulary, it can easily be overused in much the same way as a rock step is overused. So ? As a result, we want to use to sparingly from a Leading perspective. Rightfully the Circular Ocho Cortado should not take up anymore space in the line of dance than a Close Embrace Molinete does. If it’s taking up more space then something is amiss.

About The Video. This video comes in at 31m:28s in length in 9 Sections. Follower and Lead Technique is explained in the video. 

Section 1 - Follower’s Perspective - 00:12:43
Section 2 - The Difference Between Linear & Circular - 00:01:07
Section 3 - Leading Perspective - 00:03:09
Section 4 - The Open Side Circular Cortado - 00:02:44
Section 5 - The Close Embrace Version - 00:03:52
Section 6 - The Lead’s Error! - 00:01:34
Section 7 - The Lead’s Head - 00:01:34
Section 8 - Lead/Follower Footwork Detail - 00:03:41
Section 9 - Closure - 00:00:22

This video is not for sale. It is only included with a subscription package. 

Watch It On Youtube ? Why should you subscribe to this website when stuff like this is available on Youtube ? Because what you'll find on Youtube doesn't explain and walk you through the how a Circular Ocho Cortado can function, but not all the toys that are described above. So this is one reason why you want this video series, and more importantly to have this stuff broken down for you from a leading and following perspective. 

So, please, go right ahead, go watch all the presentation videos on youtube all you want. Because that's what they are 'Presentation' videos. The couple's that you're used to seeing are performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they're not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about 'Social Dancing'. So please, go spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that situation. Bend your body this way or that, twist and force this position or that. Place your foot here or there and figure it out.  Which can be a lot of fun, but more than likely it won't help you, because you're missing something: The explanation from an experienced teacher! (ahem) ME!  The goal of youtube videos is to entice you to go study with those teachers in person. The goal of these videos is allow you to work at your own pace, in the comfort of your own space, so that you can play them over and over again to improve your understanding of the vocabulary or technique being described to therefore better your dancing experience. The goal of classes and workshops is to get you to come back over and over and over again, thereby spending more money with that teacher. This website and the videos under it are here to act as a resource for you to help you to improve your dance. Pay once and be done with it. 😉

Eventually, one way or another you’re going to pay for this lesson, either here and now, or with them. TANSTAAFL! The difference between that lesson and this ? Is that you get to play this lesson over and over and over again. Further still, there are supporting materials (other videos) that help to explain the language and the underlying technique. 

In an hour long class, with the blind leading the blind through rotation of partners (uuuggggh!), you may glean a piece of the information you need and not get the whole thing, and you’ll miss important pieces that you’ll end up having to take a private lesson for to get the finer points. This way, you can watch over and over again, and get all the supplementary materials, and if you want you can still go take the class, only you’ll be better prepared to do so!

The Last Word. Tango Topics is little reminders and snippets of information that your teachers would have told you about but didn’t have time to or didn’t care to remind you for the umpteenth millionth time. Do you need videos like these ? Yes. Why ? Simple…you need as many reminders as possible in as many forms as you can get. In today’s Tango world it does take a village to raise a dancer. And that means having as many voices, reminders, ideas, concepts, perspectives as possible. This video and the rest of the ones that are sitting behind the Tango Topics paywall are that. While what you’re seeing above is only the smallest hint of what’s contained in the actual video. It should be enough for you to make a reasoned and intelligent choice that perhaps there’s something of value in this site and the videos that are here. Considering becoming a Gold, Gold Plus, or Diamond level subscriber today.

Ochos – Circular

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Thank you for reading, and I look forward to seeing you in class!