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The Vocabulary That You See Constantly!

There are Eight Turns in Argentine Tango that Tango Topics has identified as Commonly used or Social Turns. There are a few others that are outside of the common eight but for the most part, accept in this moment that there are eight.

Just in case you were curious, the Eight Common Turns are in no particular order: 1.) The Follower’s Molinete/Lead’s Giro. 2.) Milonguero Turn. 3.) Rock Step. 4.) Ocho Cortado (Linear & Circular). 5.) Calesitas. 6.) Media Luna Turns.  7.) Colgada Turns. 8.) Anti-Molinete.

Today’s Tango Topic deals with two of those common eight turns and combines them into one movement so that they actually turn down the line of dance. This is an unusual vocabulary for Tango Topics to display because it is one of the very few figures that we teach/show to our Intensive Level Students (in Level 2 & 3) in the combined version that you’re seeing it here. We typically teach these as separate elements and leave it to the student, later on in their level 2 development of solving Tango Problems, to put them together as a possible solution set.

Some things to keep in mind:

In order for a Rock Step, by itself, to function as a turning element a.) there must be multiples of them, and b.) they must ‘curve’ OR there must be a resolution of some sort from one to the next element. 

In order for a Linear Ocho Cortado to be used as a turning element, the step prior to the crossing element must be rotated by the Lead, and/or the Follower’s side step must be curved or rotated slightly.

In either case, these pieces of venerable tango vocabulary are at best ‘quarter turn’ vocabulary. Meaning that they’ll only turn about 90 to 120 degrees under optimal conditions. However, combining these two turns increases the rotational from 90 to about 150 to a potential 180 degrees, under optimal conditions.

If all of that seems very technical for you, think of it this way: By themselves, they’re smaller, individual turns or rotationals. Together they have a bigger and better turning radius. Further still, it’s a kind of cool combined turn to do.

Today we’re going to explore this combination, so without further yapping, Tango Topics presents: The Rock Step & Linear Ocho Cortado!

What Is A Rock Step & Linear Ocho Cortado ? First we have to be very clear, if it wasn’t clear above that these are two very different pieces of vocabulary. Very different. And they’re frequently commingled due to the fact that the opening step of the Linear Ocho Cortado (not the Circular Ocho Cortado) looks very similar to a Parallel System Rock Step without the Resolution. Secondly, we need to be clear about the difference between a Rock Step and that opening step of the Linear Ocho Cortado, which is called a ‘Check Step’.

A Rock Step, put simply, is a step where the Follower is led to stepping backwards, engaging a weight change, and then led to a rebote (rebound) into a forward step that may, as an option, resolve into another step. Usually a side or forward step. These steps can be done in Parallel System (meaning opposite feet – lead left to follower right, and lead right to follower left) or Cross System (meaning same feet – lead left to follower left, and lead right to follower right). The most common of the Rock Steps is a Parallel System Rock Step that starts with the Lead left/Follower Right and does not engage a Resolution, but rather curves a bit, about 45 degrees. Further, and lastly, it should be very clearly noted that while the language above is quite ‘passive’ as to what the Follower is being ‘led’ to do, the Follower is by no means a rag doll here or what Tango Topics calls a ‘dead fish’ in the Lead’s arms. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Nor should they be. They can, and should, when engaging in any of the 8 possible Rock Steps, own them completely and step into them with gusto!

A Linear Ocho Cortado, is an North American construct, at best. Why this idea is more prevalent in the United States and Canada is beyond Tango Topics but it is. In this version of the Ocho Cortado, the Follower is led to a Check Step, then a forward step across their Lead’s body, then a side step, and then led back to a crossing step (more on this later). It should be noted that the Follower does have some level of choice in this particular piece of vocabulary. Not just in where they step, but how the cross is executed, more on this particular element in a bit.

Ok, so now that we’ve defined what these things are, we need to combine them, and in doing so, we create a much more dynamic, and not to mention but we will anyway, a far more useful social turn than the turns are by themselves! This is the Rock Step & Linear Ocho Cortado vocabulary.

Difficulty Rating:  (3 / 5)

From a Following Perspective, for you, the Rock Step & Linear Ocho Cortado has seemingly taken away all your choices, and you are nothing but a rag doll or the Lead’s plaything. You have no control over what you’re being led to do. Ummmm….not! The reality is, and you really do need to get used to this idea – it has a very powerful effect on your dance once you embrace it, that you have an enormous amount of control over what’s being done to you and with you by means of how you execute something.

Let’s be clear about something here, this is not taking control away from your Lead. It is more influencing the Lead more than anything else. Possibly to limit their options into doing something else or to increase their options to make different choices than the standard ones. This line of reasoning assumes that a.) You know what those options could be. b.) You have mastered your foundation enough to be diligent to even attempt it. c.) You have an exit plan for what you’re influencing. and d.) That what you’re influencing is appropriate for the music, always! As many first Tango Teachers have said, “If it ain’t in the music, it ain’t on the floor!”.

Why are we yapping about what amounts to an “Active Follower” ? Because these pieces of individual vocabulary by themselves are the epitome of Active Following, that’s why! Both the Rock Step (and really the Rebote component) the Linear Ocho Cortado really do require the Follower to step up (no pun intended) into their roles and be very active and energetic participants in what’s happening to them and with them. Which is not to imply that the normal state of the Follower is anything but that. However, to be a bit clearer, the Follower can make a choice, for any number of reasons, not to fully engage their L/lead or the vocabulary that they’re being led towards. Meaning ? The Follower’s feet hurt, the Lead is being far too compressive with their embrace, the Lead’s breath is atrocious, the Lead is too sweaty, the Lead is being far too forceful and manhandling the Follower, the Lead is talking in their ear, the Lead’s navigational skills are less than desirable (they’re bumping into other couples, chairs, and tables), the Lead couldn’t find the beat of the music to save their proverbial lives, the Lead is forcing the Follower out of their own stability continually, and a host of other things that prevent the Follower from doing their best or engaging fully.

We could go into excruciating detail into both of these pieces of vocabulary for the Follower, however, that’s already been done in their respective articles and videos. So please, for the love of Gardel, go look at The Argentine Rock Step and the Linear Ocho Cortado in your Tango Topics library, and if you’re not a subscriber yet, then now is a good time to do just that. Registration is free by the way, subscribing will cost you a few pennies if you’re interested in knowing more and seeing the video library. No, that’s not a plug for subscribing, it’s to state that that work has already been done and it is rather extensive in a myriad of different ways and what’s here is only a sliver of what’s there. So….go subscribe, read and then watch! You’ll be happy you did.

The Follower’s Gotcha. The Replacement Step. Uuuugh. This one is going to cause a bit of consternation for a variety of reasons, most notably because it’s almost never taught…ever, and it needs to be taught, constantly so that it becomes 2nd nature in every Follower when they’re being led to a Linear Ocho Cortado.

What on earth are we yapping about ? Put simply the last step of the Linear Ocho Cortado is a Crossing Step. It’s where the Follower is led to cross their feet. While this step can, and frequently does invoke a ‘Dirty Cross’ as a result, the issue that we’re on about is the not the Crossing Step itself, but rather the step that’s almost never taught. And that’s what Tango Topics calls The Replacement Step.

What is the Replacement Step ? It’s a step between the Follower’s Side Step Rebote and their Crossing Step.  It’s a simple movement of the Follower’s weight bearing foot (their Right) from where it was in the Side step, to about an inch or two back in front of their Lead. The Replacement Step itself should end up with the Follower’s foot in the same track as the Lead’s Right Foot.

The video above shows you this same thing. Mind you if you’re a subscriber you’re going to see the more recent video that was shot specifically for the Linear Ocho Cortado with better sound, and better close up visuals. And if you’re not a subscriber, you’ll see the YouTube video that was shot in 2014 with awful sound and titled The Ocho Cortado Error. It’s not an error, it’s just not taught. We should point out that it was right about this same time, in the continuance of Tango self-education, that we discovered the Circular Ocho Cortado and that that was the default Cortado for most of the rest of the world. 🙂

Why is this a Gotcha ? Because not executing this tiny Replacement Step puts you a half-a-body out of sync with the lead, thereby putting behind your L/lead, and really puts you in the Lead’s armpit. And as a result, you’re reinforcing Armpit Dancing. That’s why! So, as we like to say at Tango Topics: Not so much with that!

From a Leading Perspective, believe it or not, you got this. Leading this stuff is a piece of cake for you. So don’t over stress yourself in that there’s something special to this. There isn’t. It’s a Rock Step without a Resolution in Parallel System. And a Linear Ocho Cortado. It’s not until you get into the variations on this stuff where your head starts to spin.

To be clearer: if you understand how to lead a Rock Step without a Resolution, and if you understand how to lead a Linear Ocho Cortado, then putting this stuff together is a snap for you.

However, if you don’t lead these things reliably (ahem) without really thinking about them as if they were second nature to you, then….ummm…you probably have issues.

Regardless of which type of lead you are, you really should revisit your foundation on this stuff: the Linear Ocho Cortado as well as the Rock Step. And the reason that you should has everything to do with your embrace! More than likely you’re compressing the embrace (squeezing) with your Right forearm, pushing your Follower with your right bicep and the inside of your elbow where it comes into contact with the Follower’s ribcage in Close Embrace; OR if you’re in Open Embrace using your Right hand along the left side of the Follower’s Ribcage and pushing them to move. Or you are pulling with your Left forearm, and/or squeezing the Follower with your Left hand. And here’s the kicker, you’re completely unaware that you’re doing any of that! Most Leads are unaware that they’re doing any of that stuff. They think or believe, erroneously so, that they have no embrace issues. They do. They just haven’t asked the more desirable partners yet, nor created an opportunity to ask the more desirable partners for feedback in the proper environment (a practica), nor have they gotten past the platitudes of “oh you’re lovely to dance with”, and digging beyond (with their question) the niceties to get down to, “Is my embrace compressive, restrictive, pushing, pulling, restraining your motion ? Is the embrace compressive in turns ? Do I ask for resistance ? Do I invoke La Marca as a default ?”.

Why are we yapping about the Embrace ? The reality is that 90% of Tango issues stem from 1 of 3 areas. 1.) Your Walk. 2.) Your Embrace. or 3.) Misunderstanding and Misremembering how something functions. That’s why.

Boring! Assuming that there are no issues with your embrace (as if!), and assuming you have mastered these two pieces of vocabulary with absolute prejudice (sure you have 🙂 ) then the next thing that we’re after is variance. And lots of it!

Look, the reality is that a good 80% of the time, you do the same thing, over and over and over again with exacting timeliness. So much so that you can quite literally set you watch by some of your vocabulary choices. If you has the temerity to video yourself dancing, which you should do anyway, you’d see the same ideas expressed over and over again with very little, if not any, variation to the execution of the those vocabulary choices. No changes to them. Nothing beyond the basic, simple, idea that you were taught. While there’s nothing wrong with that dancing that way, it does get a little…yawn, snooooooze, Zzzzzzzzzzzz….what ? Oh we’re sorry, we dozed off…. you get the picture, right ?

For example: 1.) You lead an Argentine Cross and then what immediately happens next is you lead the Follower to forward step across you. And/Or you Lead an Argentine Cross in Parallel System only. Wait! There’s another walking system ? Another type of Cross, actually there are 256 of them! 2.) You perform the same Type of Ocho (Traveling Ochos) over and over and over and over. 3.) You rarely follow or engage the music pauses which are ripe in the music. 4.) After every move, regardless of what it is, you invoke an Unused Mordida which should tell the Follower that one of two things is going to happen (Volcada or a Colgada), but doesn’t, hence the “unused” part. 5.) You end every piece of vocabulary with a side step out of your lane of dance.

And that’s just for starters. There are ooodles of these default Lead actions that we all do, that we need change up now and again to add a little bit of variance to our dance, otherwise we become boring!

Variance ? The Rock Step & Linear Ocho Cortado has a lot of variance built into it. Or more to the point, it has opportunities for you to exploit. Areas where you have the opportunity to create variations which allows you not only to change things up a bit, but creates vast amounts of musical interpretations choreography-on-the-fly that you wouldn’t ordinarily think of on your own. That’s why this video exists. The fact is that these topics by themselves is kind of boring because you’ve done them 10 million times. However what’s presented in the video are 5 other options that open the doorway to oodles of variation and variance. Which, when invoked, can and will break the deadly cycle of doing the same thing over and over again, ie – being boring!

The Lead’s Gotcha! In every piece of vocabulary there is a sniggle. There’s a gotcha moment. And in this case, the differentiation between the Rock Step and the Check Step. They are vastly different from one another. And the Lead, in this instance needs to be very clear in what they’re leading.

On the surface it looks like the opening step of the Linear Ocho Cortado is a Rock Step. It’s not. It’s a Check Step. The problem is that most Leads are fluid between one idea and the next and most of them aren’t clear that there is a Rock Step that is very different in its execution from the Check Step.

Why is this important ? The simplest reason has everything to do with Musical Interpretation. 9 times out of 10 when Leading as Linear Ocho Cortado we are invoking it because of its sharpness of movement. Its particular-ness. Its near precision. Because it clearly aligns with a section of the music that we’re currently in that consists of sharp, crisp, clear singular notes. Such as in the case of Lucio Demare’s “Lo Mismo Que Un Tango“, that’s why we’re yapping about the clarity of the Linear Ocho Cortado and not letting it slip and slide between a Rock Step as the opening step, but rather a Check step. In this instance, now we want to invoke the Rock Step and the deliberate hang time and languidness of that Rock Step, which can create other variations on a theme simply because the Lead has been clear in other instances. In other words, we want to be clear here because at some point we’ll want to invoke a variation and won’t be able to do so because our variation has become our default behavior!

From a Dancing Perspective this a cool turning apparatus. Yes, it’s a step/pattern/figure. Yes, it’s a co-combined turn. And yes you will see this thing all over the damned place for a variety of reasons. However, the kicker here is not that it’s just cool, but when it has been properly researched and practiced, it has the opportunity to become vast resource of vocabulary ideas. Why ? Because when you add in the Linear Ocho Cortado Options, as well as Cross Body Incrementals, and incremental steps on their own, as well a series of Simple Sacadas on the Follower’s Side Steps…lots of cool things can happen to our dance or in short…oodles of variations on a theme that could quite conceivably be danced all night long and never hit the upper limit of variations. And yes, there is an upper limit. We know…we counted. 🙂 And yes, we are that anal!

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

About The Video. This video is 16m:44s in length in 9 sections. Both lead and follower technique are combined and integrated into the video.

Introduction – 00:04:48 (this is the video above)
  – Linear Ocho Cortado – 00:00:54
  – A Check Step – 00:00:13
  – A Rock Step – 00:00:23
  – Parallel System Rock Step with Resolution – 00:00:22
  – The Explanation – 00:00:53
  – The Creepy Lead Lunge No-No – 00:01:17
  – The Socially Acceptable Idea for the Rock Step – 00:00:45
The Follower’s Replacement Step – 00:01:32
The Rock Step/Linear Ocho Cortado – 00:00:54
The Cross System Version  – 00:01:54
The Open Side Version – 00:04:19

The Curving Version – 00:01:20
The Closing Ideas – 00:01:24

Related Videos Mentioned In This Article: 

The Six Ways of WalkingDownload
Close Embrace Sacadas – Article/Download
The Ocho Cortado Options – Article/Download
The Circular Ocho Cortado – Article
The Argentine Rock Step – Article/Download

this video can be purchased through the tango topics store 🙂

thoughts about tango ?

The Missing Information. Dearest Reader. TangoTopics is glad that you are reading this topic in the hopes that it may get you to question and to dig a little deeper into your foundation, into the music, into the codigos of the dance. However, this topic only scratches the surface. Because you’re only seeing half of the information. You really do need to see all of it. If you had registered or ponied up the kingly sum of $7.95 for your first week, then you’d either see a free tip here, or if you’re a paying subscriber you’d see some detailed notes about the video that were either left out of the video or were an afterthought to the video after it was shot! However, because you haven’t gone and registered at least, you’re missing some helpful information that could give you a tip to making your dance a better experience for you and your partners!

Why should you subscribe for access ?  Several reasons. 1.) Even if you’re a Free User, you’ll get access to free tips that aren’t available to anyone just reading the post like this one. 2.) Sometimes there are slightly different versions of the videos, that add a bit more content for the free user vs. an unregistered user. 3.) And real reason you should subscribe ? If you’re used to YouTube videos where you’ll see a performance, those Youtube videos don’t explain or walk you through how these ideas work! That is why! What you’re seeing is a presentation, a performance. Not how things work! And what you really need to see is how things work, and more importantly why they work! This website shows you that and more! 

Remember that what you’re seeing is a couple that is performing for the 15th row for a room full of people, they’re not social dancing. Whereas this website is all about ‘Social Dancing’  or how to make things function on a social dance floor. Social Dance floor ? Your local milonga! They’re showing flashy moves as a presentation! But not stopping and talking about how this works, why you’d want to put that piece of voabulary there, or how to make things fit. These website is all about those things and more!

You could watch those videos and thereby spend your time, trying to infer, and figure out how things may work in that particular 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. This is known as Tango Twister.  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 showing you how to properly excute this stuff from a Leading Perpective as well as from a Following perspective!

The goal of YouTube videos is to get you to study with those teachers in person. The goal of Tango Topics 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 you’re done.

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 of how and why things work, so you can easily reference those things in the corresponding articles that go with the material, and or any language in the Tango Topics Dictionary. 

– 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 subscriber today.


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