Argentine tango posture

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Ampster, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    My problem

    One of the biggest improvements I've made to my tango is improving my posture.

    When I first started, no one ever taught me about the mechanics of what a good tango posture should be. I just basically winged it and made do. I thought I was doing pretty well until I found out for myself (ego aside), how wrong I was.

    As it turns out, I was doing more of a Argentine tango judo hold, than a loving tango embrace. Head forward, shoulders high and circled, chest caved, arms around my opponent, preparing for a strike. I was ready to rumble!

    It was my wife, and photographic evidence that showed me the error of my ways. I made an effort to correct it. Again, with no formal instruction behind it. Just a lot of criticism, and anecdotal comments.


    My "Posture" epiphany

    Along comes Muma to Seattle (about a year ago). I had a posture epiphany! Her workshop was all about, technique, technique, and technique. She was mild mannered, spoke hardly any English, but had a very eloquent teaching partner/interpreter, and masterful in her art.

    In one lesson, she gave us an exercise that changed how I danced, and made a great deal of difference in my leading (and following skills for the ladies).

    Muma's Posture exercise

    For both leads and follows:
    • Stand up straight. Shoulders back and level
    • Hold your arms above your head. Like you were surrendering
    • Observe where, and how high your rib cage goes. This is how high and how far out your chest should be held
    • Lower your arms to your side, while keep your chest where it's at
    • Bend your knees slightly. Enough to unlock them
    • Move your upper whole upper body forward until your weight shifts from your heels to the balls of your feet
    • When you move forward, the lead caresses the floor with his toes, then lands the heel (toe lead)
    • The follow rolls on the balls of her foot to extend, roll, land, extend roll, land

    That's how the tango posture should look like. The difference is that, the leads walk forward, and the follows walk backward. Adopting this posture, puts both of you in the milonguero stance that resembles the letter "A." Beautiful and functional. This allows the leader's feet to move forward, without bumping knees. It looks like the both of you are leaning against each other. It's an illusion. Both of you are keeping your own balance above the balls of the feet. Each movement is then done with exceptional grace and elegance. This is what I try to deliver consistently.


    *Note: This is so much easier to write about, than it is to actually do, and dance to. With enough practice, I'll get there.
  2. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    nice explanation and nice picture
  3. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Explained very nice, but, for me, I failed, when I tried to do some fancy stuff. Even that simple moves as giros, rulos threw me out of my balance. I tried to twist more and more, but without any success. So, now, I give up the A-hold, and give the follows a little bit more room.

    BTW: who´s shown on that photograph?
  4. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    to get this to work better requires awarenes of the other's axis; I use an exercise where you take it in turns to step around each other while they stand on one leg; so you become aware of the effect you have on your partners balance.
  5. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    In order to dance like that you must be sharing an axis at all times and are therefore never on your own balance (as long as you are maintaining that position).
  6. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    were you disagreeing with me? the exercise works both for milonguero and close embrace; you need to find the pivot point around which to move.
  7. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    you might also try this...I think they do a good job on the explaination, and if your French is not so hot, they also have a German version and you can figure out a lot from their visual cues also...

    They use the same "hug" movement we learned with Robert Hauk to get to a close embrace. (At least the shoulder forward type, which is how we dance.)
  8. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Ladies: the woman here may just naturally have a concaved back with a well formed posterior. Do NOT however try and emulate this if you are not built the same. I see so many ladies do this and I can tell if they are forcing their posture thus. It only leads to lower back problems in the future - i.e. fusion of the vertebrae etc. Keep your back in one line, that is shoulders in line with back in line with hips in line with bum with slightly engaged stomach (i.e. navel comfortably held back towards the spine). You're aiming to dance with a neutral back. That is, a posture that is comfortable to you - forcing your back to do something that it is out of its natural comfort zone will, in time, over the longterm lead to back problems...I'm sitting here wearing a permanent medical back wrap as I type (due to years of athleticism and heavy stage dancing) so yeah - heed my words. :rolleyes::rolleyes::rolleyes:
  9. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i think we need an x-ray image of what a woman's spine looks like when she's in heels and when she's not.....
  10. Light Sleeper

    Light Sleeper New Member

    Just a quick glance at that photo and the lady doesn't look comfortable, as if she's leaning in more than him (b/c he's not leaning in enough?) and contorting herself in the process.
  11. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

  12. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I also have to admit I don't particularly like her posture and some of it may be her personal posture or a photographic illusion from the dress she is wearing...

    I do agree that both parties shouild be trying to keep a natural curve in the spine and not trying to add anything extra in terms of tilt, artificial arching or anything else like that.
  13. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I don't buy it.
    Her weight in particular is obviously in front of the balls of her feet.
    In fact her entire torso is in front of her feet.
    As I've pointed out before, women usually have less mass than men and are also shorter. For them to put the same amount of weight forward (horizontally) as the man, they almost always have to "lean" more.
    (If the forces aren't balanced, the couple would feel the "need" to move forwards or backward, or acutally be moving.)
    The man would be in a better position to regain his balance, but...
    An illusion? Don't think so.
  15. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    You're entitled to disagree.

    They are actually moving, and she's walking backwards. She's in the middle of the stride shifting from one foot to the other.

    An illusion, yes. As it was taught to my by Muma, Miriam Larici & Hugo Patyn. It works for me.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If it is truly an illusion then she should be able to walk backwards - without a partner in front of her - with that amount of forward lean, which I don't think is possible.
    I'd be willing to "believe" if I could watch her do that.

    Take a piece of paper and use it as a straight edge to see how far in front of their feet the man and woman's torsos are. The man could probably continue "walk/falling" forward, but do you really think she could continue walking backwards?
    You can add Robert Hauk to your list of people who are now professing this "illusion".

    My assessment of it is that for lord only knows what reason, this is the new paradigm for want of another way of expressing what is going on. And believe me, this is not what they were saying 5 years ago. But, maybe the laws of physics have been amended. OK. Not likely. I prefer change of vocabulary.

    I can accept most of this for a milder, more upright form of close embrace, but not what is pictured here.
  17. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I believe Robert may be using something a bit more upright these days. At least he was when we were there and had lessons a few months ago. He's been working on some stuff with Alicia Pons for the last couple of years.
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    As I pointed out to my new to tango partner, the woman should move her leg from the hip when "walking" backwards, rather than the more normal from the knee first then from the hip movement. This ensures that the knee begins moving backwards when the leg begins to move. The more upright your posture the more improtant this is. This isn't exactly "posture", but more "how you walk". Is it natural? Not really. But then there is little natural about walking backwards.
    And BTW, this exact same "move the leg from the hip" advice can be found in many older dance books.
  19. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member


    I respect your passion, and thank you for the scientific analysis. However, I put that picture there to illustrate how it should look like and the inherent beauty and elegance of AT.

    As I said before, you're entitled to disagree. That's cool.
  20. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I have to admit, I thought the same as Steve when I saw that pic, but I was too scared to say it...

    Basically, are you saying that - from that point in that picture - if the leader suddenly disappeared, she wouldn't fall over?

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