Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tanguera, what does your first step tell your partner?

Is your first step going to tell your partner, "I'm here, alert, and ready for anything. Now let's start our 3-minute date"?  Or will it set the tone for a tango of sloppiness or of clutching dependence?

Let's talk about when your tango begins with an opening to your right (for those using the academic 8-count-basic, this would be "2").

Many women make the following error, which, if you do it, immediately makes you lose your balance slightly and need to rely on the man to steady you.  You're probably not aware of it, because, as is so common, it's a habit and seems normal. Here it is:

You take the launch to your right, letting your weight fall on the outer right side of your hip and leg. That alone would cause you to lean on the man's right hand for balance, but if at the same time, you "collect" your feet, you risk exacerbating the problem of throwing your weight onto your partner's left hand. This is such a common habit that he's used to supporting the woman with his left hand at this point.

How'd you like to start each tango feeling like a tiger?

Launch yourself with the same degree of energy you feel in the lead, the inside edge of your right shoe skimming the floor, and land with your weight in the center of your body. That is, immediately seek your balance, by finding your center over the inside of your right leg and foot.  In other words, let the central axis of your body continue down inside your right leg and foot.  And just relax your left leg. Ahhh . . .  It relaxes and falls under you to the degree that your partner asks you to flex or straighten the knee of your standing leg.  How does that feel, compared to snapping that leg closed like a solder at attention?

You'll be autonomous, and alert, with all your energy poised to make whatever move is proposed. Like a tiger or a panther ready to take off with that incredible grace and power they're famous for. You can be famous for it too.

And your relaxed left leg will be free to embellish, if you like.

Try practicing this, and see what a difference it makes in your tango.


  1. This article is great for improving practice partner performance and preventing arguments between the leader and follower.

    Often times, my partner won't believe me when I tell her she's "spilling" over the outside of her foot with her side steps.

    I'll just point her your way. Thank you!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Panayiotis. Privately, I go a step further and tell only women something that really helps them understand!

  3. Thanks for the interesting thoughts.

    I'm a man, and learning to find my axis on the inside has not been easy for me, either, and I have often wondered if that tells me something about myself...

    In any case, my main problem with "COLLECTING" is that it drains the potential for music from your body's natural motion.

    In my opinion, "collecting" denotes forcing the feet together with stiff ankles. This is wrong. Instead, we should let the ankle completely relax as we come completely to our axis, with both feet still touching the floor in that same instant.

    Then the leg can fall underneath the body, being "pulled" there, with relaxed ankle, as the body already flows into the next step.

  4. About the free leg, David, we're in agreement, and I like how you describe the musicality problem caused by the dreaded "collecting" of the feet.

    But don't be hard on yourself, looking for psychological interpretations, if you don't yet have superb balance. That would tend to damage one's self confidence and further mess up one's balance. It's a process, even a journey, I'm sure you know.

    I have learned that technique and psychology can work in constant interplay. Such as: 1) The more you feel like a King, the better your tango technique falls into place. Yet, 2) If you master a few balance techniques your self-confidence can skyrocket.

    One balance "trick" I teach works like powerful magic - I call it a trick because you can learn it in just few seconds or minutes.

    If you go to my page at, and opt-in to see the men's video, the system will then send you my Free Report on "The #1 Secret to feeling super-confident in your Masculinity", with 4 simple exercises that relate to this topic. (You must respond to the confirmation request email to get the Free Report, so I'm not spamming you.)

    Thanks for the thoughtful post!

  5. Note: That article is no longer available at, but in its place is something even better: my one-month e-course called "9 Surprising Tango Tips for Men!"