The steps & terminology of Argentine tango

Ocho Cortado

'Cut ocho'. The ocho cortado is a classic milonguero move – probably one of the oldest tango steps there is (along with the regular ocho). That's probably because it's so natural to do in close embrace.

As old as it is, it's never going to go out of fashion, because it feels great, and you can really play with it.

In an ocho cortado, the leader leads the follower to take a front cross, as though she were going to start an ocho, but instead he cuts off her pivot with a side-step rebound, and then pivots her back to her starting point into a cross.

This is vastly easier to see than to explain, so:

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I'll try and break that down. The ocho cortado is often done with a back step rebound before beginning the ocho cortado proper, forming a rhythmic sequence of 1-2-3 (pause), 1-2-3 (pause).

  1. Lead the follower to begin a back step with her right foot, but rebound immediately…
  2. … onto her left foot…
  3. … and continue the lead so that she takes a front step with her right foot.
  1. Now begins the ocho cortado proper. She's on her right foot. Lead her to pivot slightly and begin a side step with her left foot…
  2. …but then rebound her back onto her right foot, while pivoting…
  3. …to bring her back to face in the original direction, and into the cross.

Playing with the ocho cortado

There are all kinds of fun little things you can do with the ocho cortado. The video above shows a few. Another fun one is to throw in some extra rebounds – the moment where she's going from the side step to the cross, you can go back-and-forth with that, and most followers love that because it's cute, and playful, and it produces a fun little wiggle of the hips (see the video below at about 1.00 for an example of this).

Following and decorating the ocho cortado

It's very common to decorate the ocho cortado with a little extra twist in the hips and a tilt of the foot. This is in the moment when the side step is led – instead of taking a pure side step, you turn your hips a little further, and you tilt up the foot of your extended leg so that the heel is pointing down and the toe up.

Here's a video showing some ways of decorating the ocho cortado (there's about 40 seconds of just walking before they start with the ocho cortado itself).

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Header photos courtesy of a Creative Commons license.