Lesson 3:
Pivot & Ocho

When people were dancing the tango outdoors in or before the 1930s’ Canyengue Tango period, everything was simple. You just dance and step onto anywhere you like to.

Later more and more people dance the tango indoors, or in a salon, some people find they can dance more elegantly and delicately -- they made a pivot with their shiny leather shoes, faced the step-target and steps exactly straight forward onto the place.

We can make the whole thing easier to draw and read with a simple diagram as:

By pivoting on 2 different feet to Forward and Backward two directions, we have 4 pivot ways to change our direction.

If we step forward to one target place with one foot, and return to the original place via pivoting and stepping forward with another foot, we will create a special tango element called “Ocho”, which means eight “8” in Spanish.

An “Ocho” is not one “movement” in the tango, it is a result of several fundamental movements.  An full “Ocho Forward” is:

 A typical misunderstanding about Ocho is in the angles of pivoting. Most people would think it should be 180° for one standard Ocho, so they are not able to keep in the same place after making several Ochos.


You will feel it more that you are getting away from the wall or the studio mirror when you practice the Ochos Backward.

 To make a good Ocho, we should pivot more than 180 degrees so 2 steps paths becomes a X and make a real “Ocho” path on the floor.

 Although the reality is to pivot more, we still draw it in a simple direction with less precise to make a cleaner note and easy to read.