Tango Argentino > Back ocho technique

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by All Sales Are Final, Oct 13, 2015.

  1. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Which video are you referring to? I don't see where you have posted a video in this thread.
  2. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    We haven't danced (as far as I remember) so I cannot be sure
    what your style of close embrace is since there are so many variations,
    some rather more significant than their apparent subtlety.
    However assuming you are referring to the Tete & Silvia video,
    his hip position is somewhat irrelevant since he moves his upper
    body to drive the dance, his lower body does what is necessary
    and is never in the way, probably because of his stomach.

    Although I don't use Tete as any kind of guide (he was too brutal
    and he had that stomach which thankfully I lack) much of what he did
    was similar to other milongueros of his time and his rather large
    movement does enable you to see more clearly. What is less clear
    is just where is he leading from? His chest or his stomach!
    Milongueros did what was necessary to dance with whoever was
    their partner at that moment. In our quest for absolutes it is something
    that is overlooked by us and yet something that they possessed from
    their years of experience. Experience which cannot be taught.
  3. Honestly speaking I don't really mind what the women are doing, I am sure they are progressing just fine and I'm not too worried if they're overturning or whatever, that's their business and they can focus on their own improvement while I focus on mine.

    And no, I'm not doing forward ochos, I'm doing backward ones.

    It's nice that the discussion takes natural turns and tangents, but what I had intended the thread to be about was me doing backward ochos.

    ...Not anyone else doing ochos (partners, instructors, whoever).

    ...Not forward ochos.

    ...And certainly not me or anyone doing side-steps.

    That's just what I wanted to ask about, though of course it's fine and very interesting if other things are discussed too! :)

    Yes, D Chester, thank you, that is exactly a textbook example of what I'm trying to do! And I noticed he did the little circle thing, making it smooth as well... much less awkward than twisting.

    I know that you say only the woman is doing backward ochos here, but this is how we have been taught to do backward ochos. Also yes there is a sidestep but I was taught that this was necessary to "get into" cross-system in the first place.

    As a beginner I used to forget the sidestep quite often, and then all sorts of things would go wrong. I'm not sure what exactly it did, but mostly we would have to stop dancing, get back into position and start again... :(
  4. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Whenever I post a youtube video, it automatically gets embedded. I'm not sure why you (or others) might not be seeing it.

    Here's the only way I can think of (at least right now), to simply show the URL.
  5. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    OK.. I understand now the confusion. At first glance this post appears to contradict itself. YOu say you are doing back ochos, not your partner, and that you are not doing side steps.

    But you go on to say that the video DC posted of Ana and Diego shows what you are trying to do.

    So it seems to me that you are unclear on the terminology, because if you are doing what the video shows, you are taking side steps while your partner does back ochos.

    The confusion probably stems from a misunderstanding you have of how things are termed. A move is almost always named based on what the follower is doing. In this video, Ana is doing back ochos. You are LEADING back ochos, but you are not doing ochos yourself. So if your teacher talks about the couple doing back ochos, she means that the leader gives a lead for the follower to execute back ochos.

    There are several ways to accomplish that, including what is shown in the video. Another would be for YOU to do forward ochos as the follower does back ochos. But it would still be described for the 2 of you that the couple is doing back ochos.

    Make sense?
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2015
    All Sales Are Final likes this.
  6. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    OK, now it is clear to me. You are leading the back ochos (and not doing them). You are doing side steps. The follower is the one doing the ochos (as it should be). You would be doing back ochos if you were doing the same steps the follower was doing in the video (not commonly done, BTW).

    Also, there are other steps the leader could be doing while the follower does ochos. (example, sometimes you will see the leader doing front ochos, while the follower does back ochos.) What they have shown in the video is the most common thing that the leader could be doing while leading the follower to do her back ochos.

    Basically, you'll need to get used to the idea that the followers steps are a lot more important than the leaders steps in social tango, (not true for performers, though). That's why a lot of the time, what we might say the couple is doing, is often based on what the follower is doing. The same is true for the mollinette (or giro).

    The leader's main role is to lead well. At a milonga, the leader can really do any steps he is able to do, as long as he is leading well.
    All Sales Are Final likes this.
  7. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    My post was directed to Lois D, who mentioned a video, but didn't post one herself. So I didn't know if she lost the link somewhere, or if she was referring to one of the videos posted by someone else.
    Lois Donnay likes this.
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I like to use that video as an example not just for what Tete is doing, but primarily for Sylvia. It's very easy to see in this particular video how she executes her backochos by doing something more like a crossing side step behind her supporting leg rather than a pivoted backstep. When you then look at how they are connected, you see that she does this so that the embrace doesn't flex or open or pull her away from Tete in any way. Pivoting almost always requires a flexible embrace unless the follower has a Gumby-like waist for disassociating.

    I totally agree that large scale adapting to the follower is a rare commodity. Many leaders don't feel they need to because the followers outnumber leaders 2 to 1, so there is less pressure on leaders to be able to dance multiple styles or adapt to followers' preferred styles or movement.

    In some ways, you could almost say that a LACK of absolutes drives this boat. My impression (not being a tango historian) is that in the time of the old milongueros, there weren't so many radically different "styles" of Tango. There may have been variation based on whether one danced in a crowded urban milonga or at a larger milonga on the outskirts of town (with more room for larger movement). But they didn't have the extreme variety of what was considered "Tango" or "proper form" that exists today. So the amount of adapting leaders (and followers) had to do to dance with multiple partners was minimal compared to today's North American tango scene.
  9. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Yes I agree about Silvia, she is interesting because of the way
    she so effortlessly danced with the extrovert Tete. Pivoting
    certainly requires dissociation but that can be shared
    with the man although it rarely is. I would be interested
    to dance with Silvia because she seems to dance in a way
    I look for in a partner.

    As it's a man's lead dance why would you even expect a man
    to dance in a follower's preferred style? I could dance in a range
    of styles but frankly I prefer not to. Once the connection is broken,
    tango loses its appeal for me, it's just another dance then.

    Please do bear in mind that for me the dance is of the music,
    responding step by step in the moment and no other connection
    I know of facilitates that. It is a unique way of dancing.

    And while there seems to have been a range of styles, perhaps
    not as wide as today, they were geographically restricted.
    The centre had its own close embrace style.

    But they did adapt, and still do, because the close embrace style
    is most affected by the physicality and ability of the individual partners.
  10. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I'm confused by the seeming contradiction of your statements. You applaud the old timers for adapting to their partner, but then you wonder why I would want or expect a leader to adapt to a follower.

    Perhaps the mix-up is in the use of the word "styles". I certainly don't mean that a leader who dances a traditional type dance with small movements using basic vocabulary, should toss all that out the window because the follower wants to dance neo-tango using wild leg movements and way off axis colgadas. (although a leader who dances big and fast should be prepared to tone it down for a follower who can't keep up)

    I was referring more to the slight differences in acceptable embraces and arm positions and level of disassociation.

    I've had too many leaders lately "correcting" my placement of my left hand despite the fact that it isn't hurting or restricting them in any way. I've had one leader tell me to please put it around his neck or at least on his shoulder while the very next leader tells me NOT to do so and to please place it as I had it before being "scolded" by the previous leader. (and in neither case was it actually causing a problem)

    I've had leaders hold their left arm and hand rigidly in a way that I MUST dance with a very pronounced "V", to the point where our bodies were almost 90 degrees, resisting my every attempt to close the open side to a more natural and comfortable V position.

    I've had them "complain" when I look past their right ear instead of to my own right (even when they are holding me parallel which would require me to turn my head 90* to my body!). I've had them tell me that I should be pressing my forehead/face into theirs more firmly and when I don't, they start pressing uncomfortably into mine.

    I've had them use their arms to twist me into deeper pivots when they notice that I am doing my ochos by crossing as much as pivoting because I am "supposed" to pivot.

    I've even gotten negative comments when I've chosen to keep my boleos on the floor!

    In all these cases, they are used to a specific thing and can't/won't adapt to slight changes. Either because they think it is supposed to be that way and I am "wrong", or because they just don't want to deal with making relatively minor adjustments themselves.

    The other thing to take away from this rant is that many leaders feel completely comfortable and justified in speaking these corrections and requests even to a follower such as myself, who has been tango'ing many years longer than they have, and even in a milonga setting.

    I really doubt the old timers would EVER do anything like that. As you said, they adapted to whoever was their partner at that time, rather than playing Pygmalion and molding us like Galatea into their perfect partner.
  11. Zoopsia and D Chester thank you for your marvelous explanations and recommendations.

    I think I prefer the video that D Chester posted. While it is always nice to see good dancing, and it's just a matter of personal preference, in your one Zoopsia I'm not a huge fan of the way the woman seems to "float about" at certain moments, while the man apparently stands around doing nothing: it happens at 00:44 and again at 00:57. I have very little knowledge of course, but aesthetically speaking, it looks sort of untidy and hesitant to me.
    dchester likes this.
  12. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Do look again.
    At 44secs Silvia is changing weight as a result of the lead
    from Tete's body, at 57secs he is gently pivoting her. This
    is a dance of feeling, connection to the music and your partner,
    not a question of aesthetics. Indeed our televisual age does
    means that the look of a dance is what appeals to those who
    don't know while those who do know can see much deeper
    and beyond the superficial froth of appearance.
    koinzell likes this.
  13. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Some interesting comments here, Zoopsia.
    There is no contradiction, you have the right interpretation here.

    I have to say that I prefer the traditional central Buenos Aires way
    which means no stressed arms, no clamps and everything about it
    concentrates the connection to high up the chest.
    I had a so called milonguera try and change my embrace to something
    like this, much to my surprise. It was in a practica (it's a story maybe for
    another time) and I didn't dance with her during the ensuing milonga
    nor did she look to me for a dance.
    Yes, that's quite ridiculous and part of the current trend
    of it looks "mas linda". Do continue to ignore it.
    Well they just don't what they don't know.
    Teacher has told them how it is danced (even if teacher doesn't
    really know what is danced socially) so it must be right. Indeed
    teacher may have insisted that his/her way is the way, the only way.
    Put it down to crass ignorance.
    And they still do. They will dance with the foreigners too,
    but many of these are older guys (not really milongueros)
    and have been presented by the travelling tangueras with
    an opportunity to pretend they are young again.
    Sometimes I think that they cannot believe their luck!

    In older times the variations to be accommodated were
    the natural differences of physicality and ability. Now it is
    more complicated by fashion and fads, tourism and the influx
    professional dancers catching the commercial bandwagon
    of tango teaching and performance.

    We cannot time travel back to Golden Age where dancing evolved,
    learned mutually and by simple immersion in the dance and its music.
    However we can replicate some of it for ourselves given the right
    circumstances or the motivation and dedication.
  14. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Glad to help straighten that out!

    As John Em points out, Sylvia does not drift around independent of a lead. Tete' was a master at leading his partner to take steps without taking any himself. It's very subtle what he does with his body, but she is responding to leads from him.

    Despite my 1st teacher's admiration for Tete', and the influence he had over my teacher's teachers, I was unimpressed watching Tete' until I had been dancing tango for almost 2 years. I didn't really appreciate how he used his body so simply and "small-ly" to lead so many moves. One of the reasons for his trademark "helicopter" sequence (where he holds his arms out and moves in circles down the floor) is to show that he isn't leading with his arms AT ALL. Everything comes from his torso (although there is some debate as to whether it comes from his chest or his belly!)
  15. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    Hopefully you will learn to understand this when you've been dancing and studying tango a bit longer...that is not what is happening at all. His lead is so beautifully subtle that you just aren't seeing it. They are moving very harmoniously together because he leads and she follows.
    koinzell likes this.
  16. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    While I wouldn't describe Tete as a great dancer, I would describe him as a great leader.

    What I'm about to say is somewhat of an over simplification, but here it goes anyways. Sometimes people will do certain things to improve the look of what they are doing (and/or do fancy steps), while for some others, the main priority is the connection (how the dance feels, both to themselves and to their partner). Despite what some may claim, IMO, this is simply a matter of personal preference, (steps vs connection).
  17. Yes, if what I am seeing at those points of hiatus is primarily intended to establish/build rapport between the individuals concerned, and not for the benefit of any third-party observer, then this makes perfect sense.

    I have seen people do similarly at milongas in various cities, and often wondered why. It certainly looks odd though.
  18. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I would say that these are not points of hiatus intended to estabish/build rapport - these are examples of cherishing the highest level of rapport that one has to have established beforehand - it is the exact opposite of a hiatus, but (in my opinion) one of the highest expressions of dancing together. It is easy to lead when using gross geometry and impulse, it is difficult to pare it down. If i lead a sidestep by doing a backstep and a sidestep to the open side of the embrace this is something i can do that with anybody (well, as long as they don't activly resist (and as long as i am bigger than them probably even if they resist)). If i lead a sidestep purely from my core without moving my feet or using my arms i have to rely on us both sharing and activly maintaining our connection - and that is what tango is (at least for me) about. I sometimes thought that the perfect tango would be almost invisible - a third person would only see us embrace and stand still, and do some subtle footwork in place. Of course when you actually try that it gets somewhat boring - while marinading in a great connection and expressing the music with minimal movement is a nice experiment it is much more fun to actually move :).

    To loop back to the OP: ochos are tricky, because to some extent the completely flat crossed ocho (which is in essence a back volcada into a back cross) and the pivoted ocho (which is a more or less an single axis turn leading into a backstep, where the leader and follower may or may not dissocate from each other) are different figures requiring massively different technique, and we are usually dancing something that is somewhere between these two extremes, and use technique that borrows from both. And additionally the ocho is such a common thing to do that often it is not actually lead at all. And what point on the continuum works is the "best technique" will depend on the specific dyad, the specific level of energy, the specific speed of the music will vary widely.
    Zoopsia59 likes this.
  19. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I mostly love this post but I have to quibble with the part I quoted. I get what you are saying, but a "back volcada into a back cross" is frequently done as a step in it's own right that involves placing the free leg directly behind (in a cross position) the standing leg. In other words, no movement to the side has occurred, except the tiny amount from one foot to the other foot being right next to it. Usually this move also involves a certain feeling of a circular movement of the leg as well, which is not part of the lead for a crossing ocho.

    So to me, it is misleading to describe a crossing ocho this way. I wouldn't want someone reading to think that move is what we are talking about when we refer to "crossing ochos".

    Also, the crossing ocho doesn't usually involve (the way I've been taught it, led in it, or taught it myself) a volcada'ish change in the posture. You don't see Tete' taking Sylvia off axis to execute back ochos. The whole point is that the embrace and connection doesn't change to do the ochos from what it already was to do anything else. No opening to pivot, no increased leaning either.

    In fact, I would think that taking the follower into a volcada would more likely result in her dropping her free leg forward. That's what I do in a volcada. You aren't going to get a back ocho out of that without that circular motion I was referring to. If someone deepens my lean and then tries to take me directly side, I'm probably going to try to take my free leg in front of my supporting leg, not behind.

    So while some form of crossing ocho can be achieved by going into a volcada and then using circular motion for the free leg (around, behind and then into a crossed side step of whatever size) while keeping the follower firmly on the standing leg, that certainly isn't required and isn't what anyone I know who dances "milonguero" does to lead a crossing ocho.
  20. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    I think the feet movement can be created by golgada and volgada techniques and somewhere in between there is a neutral one. In all these movements the follower needs to know if the foot shall go behind or front to cross the standing leg. So I need to lead her foot backwards to get in to the right path. In golgad/volgada i would lead her back in but i think that in the neutral variation she is streching the leg into the right position.

    In close embrase i do not change anything in my abrazo but a heel length in from a normal feet distance (standing legs) or a heel length out can create a colgada or volgada.

    This video looks quite ok for me as a neutral crossing. I could not follow her hips but his arm shows the movement more clearly.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015

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