Good Intentions. Bad advice.


Weird Sister

I thought it may be useful to new dancers if we compiled a list of poor, useless or potentially harmful dancing advice. Perhaps we could even include suggestions that may only be useful when properly explained in practical terms like "stay grounded".

1. Followers dance tango on our toes. Not just with our weight forward but on the toes.

This isn't ballet. Moving quickly may sometimes necessitate staying on the balls of the feet (like sprinting) but dancing on tip toe is unnecessary.

2. Use the palms to exert significant pressure on one's partner in the embrace.

Nope. Hugs shouldn't hurt.
"Walk forward with your chest out front."

Actually, I don't know whether it's bad tango advice... all the instructors I've had seem to swear by it. But it's really terrible advice in real life and could even cause health problems.

Here's the thing: it's simple mechanics. If you push your chest and therefore center-of-gravity out front before your foot arrives to support your bodyweight, then when your leg does eventually get there, the sudden impact of the weight that has been awaiting support sends a tremor through the entire body, most particularly affecting the shin.

Over time these shocks can weaken or compromise the skeleton.

If on the other hand your foot is already there to support your weight by the time your center-of-gravity arrives, you place your weight down smoothly and the shock is lessened to a negligible amount... as with ordinary everyday walking.

Tango instructors seem not to like men putting their foot out front ready to support their bodyweight, as they apparently think it interferes in some way with the woman's steps. But if you get too much into the habit of putting the chest out front in tango, it could start to creep into muscle memory and affect the way you walk every day. That could really get you in trouble if you are getting these repeated shocks through the shin every time you take a step as your weight comes crashing down, be it on a wooden floor or in the street.


Well-Known Member
"Walk forward with your chest out front."
It can be deformative if done to excessively.
If done properly (slightly up and forward) then ribcage is free for more torso movement.
Sometimes students blindly follow their teacher and hurt themselves.
Teacher should see improper technique, but sometimes student do bad technique while
practicing for proper one and hurt themselves.


Well-Known Member
"Walk forward with your chest out front."
I think this is a classic example of why so much advice is bad advice: It will deal with a specific issue at a specific point - often by overcorrecting - and is usually excellent advice at this point - but once that issue has been dealt with it is neither applicable not useful anymore.

There is nothing more frustrating than hearing good advice from the wrong people at the wrong time - one of my least favourite memories of dancing tango was when a long time ago a dance just went horrible awry, and my partner gave me some feedback that was clearly her repeating her teachers advice because while it admirable addressed her issues it did nothing to address mine. And i think the frustrating thing about a lot of bad advice is that that it is not bad information, but snippets of good information that are applied the wrong way at the wrong moment.

One the most valuable lessons concerning advice/criticism is something one of my writing teachers once taught: "There is no wrong feedback - if somebody reads your piece and tells you that there is something that needs to be changed they are ALWAYS right. What they are usually not right about is what needs to be changed, and why."

P.S. My favourite "bad" advice is "just follow the lead"

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