ocho pivots: is that my booty?

I've been having trouble consistently nailing my ochos. As soon as I stopped having such a wobbly axis, I seemed to have trouble pivoting enough - and with enough disassociating to make the step look and feel smooth, graceful .. and precise.

I got a bit of advice from my instructor Monica, who I believe she said she got from Silvina Valz, regarding turning during ochos. She said pivot until you can see your butt (over your shoulder). How literally you take that is, of course, up to you. To my surprise, I found it incredibly helpful in remembering to disassociate my hips and first of all, not use my partner for leverage, and second, it gave me something more tangible to monitor my consistency.

Do you have other ways you monitor how a step or movement needs to "feel" or look to know you've completed it correctly?

(PS - that's me looking for my ocho booty and modeling my new Flabella tango shoes. :) )


tangocherie said...

Well, whatever works, I always say.
But it seems to me that this exercise would ruin your posture and torque your head.
If you are in the embrace, and your head relaxed in contact with your partner, you have to FEEL that your ochos are pivoting and correct; you can't count, nor should you, on your eyes--in fact, you should be able to shut them.
Beautiful shoes, by the way!

Mari said...

You're right. I think it's more of a transitional exercise than something to integrate into one's dance. Sort of a demonstration of "when it looks like this, and feels like this - you're on the right track" kind of thing.

and thanks tons about the shoes! :) Let the shoe addiction begin.

Unknown said...

Something I learned from James Friedgen and Christina Rodriguez: Tense your ab muscles as you are twisting, twist up like a dish-towel, and then when you are ready to pivot, release your ab muscles. The momentum of the release of that tension helps you pivot effortlessly and gracefully. PLUS, you get awesome abs if you do it enough! I've gotten so much use out of this exercise, I'd say my ochos have improved SO much in the month that I've practiced this.

Hope this helps!

Mari said...

Mellie - thanks a million! That's extremely helpful!

Anonymous said...

What I have been told, and works for me, is to first practice what the feet do--step, close, pivot, in that order.
Then, when dancing, move (lead your movements) with your upper torso, as if you have an eye in the middle of your upper torso that is looking at your partner, and forget about your feet.
With getting balance, I have simply practiced walking--walk & step first on the back of your foot, then a step on the ball, then the toes, to familiarize yourself w/how the steps feel & your weight distribution. I am told (& this has been working for me) to do pivots on the ball of the foot, keeping your weight in the "middle". I have been doing so now and have been keeping my balance. Also, I've been told, to keep balance, dance into the floor.
I did all of this for a whole hour while dancing w/a newbie who was learning to lead the ocho for the first time, and I didn't lose my balance once! I did have to remember to close before pivoting once in a while, but I think I should remember from now on!

Mari said...

Via - thank you for that advice. It took me ages to find it as I had my comment notifications turn off accidentally. Your advice closely follows what some of the visiting teachers have taught as well, so I've been able to see it in action.