Which Is It?


Well-Known Member
Hi folks!

I've heard different things on the way the body is shaped in AT ... (1) head to toe lean or (2) hip to toe with the straight up ... which is it?

Or can it be described a better way?

And what about all this talk about "being on one's axis" compared to all the talk of "leaning forward"?

Steve Pastor

Staff member
My dictionary defines axis as "a straight line about which a body or geometric object rotates or may be thought to rotate".
Even when you "stand up straight" you can change your axis by moving your weight forward and backward. As your axis moves further and further forward, you begin to use your toes to keep from falling over forward. In general tango is danced with the axis of your body through the balls of your feet.
It is possible, though, and to many of us very desirable, to create a shared axis with our partner. This axis would be even further forward than the balls of our feet, somewhere between us, depending on our respective weights and "lean".
Those of us who like the close embrace / milonguero / apilado style want this shared axis to be accompanied by enough forward energy (if I start to move away from you, you will feel it and move towards me, etc) that we can easily move as one with our torsos as the contact point.
If you suddenly remove one of two dancers of this style, the other would probably have to take a step to regain their balance, and reestablish their axis beneath themselves, rather than in front of themselves.
In general open embrace styles have the partners maintain their own balance more so than in close embrace / milonguero / apilado. In other words, although the shared axis is between the partners, the shared axis is closer to the axis they would have if they were separate.
In both cases your weight is towards your partner.
If you carefully watch people dance open embrace more energetically (like using super slow motion on a DVD), you will see high energy turns where the partners will be leaning away from each other. There always seem to be exceptions to any "rules".
There should be no "bending in the middle". No leaning forward from the hips. No letting your butt stick out. No leaning forward of the head, either. Any forward lean should be from either your ankles or your knees.
Of course one of the things I personally like about this dance is that there is no final authority on much of anything.
Thanks to the many fine instructors I’ve had. (I know at least one of you contributes to this forum.) Hopefully, I’ve got it right.
I know nothing, nada, zip about tango, but Steve's post brought me back to my Afro Cuban Class... where my teacher stressed the forward shift of the axis to the ball of the feet at all times. She said that an embraced couple was to lean, through a forward rotation of the ankles, on one another to the point where the absence of one person would force the other to backards shift the axis to regain balance. Also when dancing solo that forward lean from the ankles was to remain present. From that position, which she referred to as the natrual position of a moving body, she applied all the other afro-cuban body stances, etc.

Her point was that that beautiful stance abandoned Salsa dancing when self made instructors began to teach without proper knowledge. Hence, creating two bodies balancing on two "axis" instead of two bodies balancing on one creating a unique unison.

But man Steve, that was truly informative to read! Imma have to start reading more on this side of the forums.

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