Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of connection, love, unity, harmony and beauty, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us into individuals, but tango unites us into a team, community, people and species. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through fraternity, cooperation, accommodation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.
March 18, 2023
Although all tango women can do ocho, many fail to grasp its importance and dedicate sufficient time to practicing it. However, if there is one step that can significantly enhance a woman's tango, it is ocho. This is because ocho encompasses all the fundamental techniques that are essential for women's dancing, including pivot, dissociation, cadencia, connection, flexibility, stability, lightness, smoothness, and elegance. Moreover, ocho is the most frequently used female step in tango. A woman's tango can be truly stunning only if she can execute ocho flawlessly. While some may argue that molinete is another quintessential female step, it is merely a sequence of forward and backward ochos.
The term "ocho" originates from the Spanish word for "eight". In this figure the woman traces the shape of an S on the floor with one leg and then repeats the same with the other leg. The two S shapes overlap in opposite directions, creating the visual effect of the number 8. To execute ocho, the woman begins by rotating her hips and stepping forward to one side of her partner. She then pivots, rotates her hips again, and steps forward in the opposite direction. It's crucial to perform the move with excellent connection, stability, flexibility, lightness, smoothness, and elegance. Please watch the following example (6:10-10:00) for a visual demonstration.
Most tango instructors place great emphasis on hip swivels, also known as dissociation, while neglecting to teach the swing of the body, or cadencia, in ocho. However, combining dissociation and cadencia can heighten the gracefulness of the movement and create a swinging sensation that enhances the pleasure of the dance.
Ocho can be danced in a variety of ways as showing below. It is the most colorful step of all that can fully display women's feminine, gentle, soft, flexible, elegant and creative beauty.
I suggest that students make practicing ocho a part of their daily routine, dedicating 10-20 minutes every day until they have internalized the movement and developed their own unique style. The key word here is internalization, which enables the woman to concentrate on her partner rather than the steps. Women must overcome the urge to show off. They may know many variations of ocho, but it's better to use just few in one tango rather than overwhelming themselves with too many options.
Ocho can be a very seductive move due to the physical interaction between the partners. (See Dissociation and Gear Effect.) Rather than concentrating on her own performance, the woman should devote her attention to making the man feel comfortable and establishing a deep and meaningful communication as she dances ocho. This is only possible when she has internalized the movement.
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