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Everything I Know About Posture, I Learned in Tango


I started doing tango in 2019.  It caught my attention as a "sport" because it's very challenging and apparently I'm a masochist. 


But seriously, there's a STEEP learning curve when it comes to this beautiful dance.  I like to refer to it as the "chess of dances."  Also as "the thinking person's dance."  

As it goes with learning new things, at first I was stumbling over my own feet.  A year or two later, I could do a passable beginner's tango.  I would say now I'm solidly intermediate.  There are certainly a few "moves" that I haven't got to yet.  

The thing that's impressed the most on me about tango, other than how difficult it is to learn, is that you have to use good posture.

Fortunately, you don't need to learn tango to get the benefits out of proper tango posture. 

Although it does help to practice the posture about 1000 times to make it a new muscle memory.  

The fun thing about dancing is that it's really just walking,... but more fun!  

Here's what I mean.  

Try to stay in the 2 tracks most of the time.

One of the first things I learned in Tango is always “stay in the 2 tracks.”

In Tango, always stay in the 2 tracks.  (“Stay in your lane!”)  By staying in the “2 tracks,” each foot is about shoulder-distance apart.  You’re not stepping one foot directly in front of the other. 

The primary reason why is so that your hips can stay in a neutral position.  Your balance is compromised if you try to use 1 track only. 

If you’ve ever skiied, this is easier to imagine.  How well could you possibly do it with your skis on top of each other?  Even if you use a snowboard, your hips and feet are still separated.  

There are times when the feet cross over to the other side of the tracks (as well as in life), but if – and only if – your hips turn to allow the movement.  Your hips ultimately guide your feet. 

“Dissociation” is fun…for a little while.

The hips, legs, and feet (lower section) can move distinctly from the shoulders, chest, and neck (upper section). 

This pivoting occurs in in the middle core.  When I say “core,” I’m talking about the 3 yogic bandhas – your throat, the more typical core around your lower ribs, and your perineum (the space between your anus and genitals). 

Turning or twisting in the middle bandha – the “core,” are meant to be temporary transitional movements.  Holding your core twisted eventually leads to tension on one side of your back or hips.  

The twist in Tango is used as a catalyst or a wind-up to allow for a dramatic untwisting movement that may include a flare of the leg or something called an “ocho,” but you don’t need to worry about that right now.  🙂 

Your shoulders always face your partner’s. 

Don’t start looking around until the song is over.  Pay full attention. 

Your shoulder blades (scapulae) stay relaxed down your back, ideally (not creeping up by your ears or slumping in front). 

Your hands are not gripping your partner (or anything) too tightly and your elbows are also down, in a natural, relaxed position, not pointing behind you, nor pointed out to the side.  This is called "external rotation." 

When you want to turn your parner, your shoulders move in conjunction with your central core.  Your shoulders don’t dissociate, or move separately, from your center.  Rather, your torso moves your shoulders as one unit.  

However, your neck can dissociate from your center, so try to be aware when it’s dissociating and you’re not intending for that to happen.

When you walk, always “collect.”  

The collection I’m talking about happens in the lower bandha, the perineum.  Notice how halfway through a step, your feet meet just for a nanosecond directly underneath your body.  When you’re here, you should feel an uplifting sensation through your spine starting at your perineum.  

What happens is that when most people walk, myself included at times, is that we sink instead of lift.  You can do this for years and not have any issues, but eventually, your knees and back will start to feel the pressure, especially if you’re overweight. 

You don’t have to stop and literally collect each time.  Obviously, this would result in minor tasks taking forever and you’d look ridiculous!  It’s more of an internal sensation. 


S T R E T C H as you walk 

Your steps out – whether you’re stepping forward or backward – are stretches of your leg.  Walking this way strengthens your glutes and legs at the same time.  Plus, it makes you look very graceful. 

Hint:  the front leg is bent when you land on it.  

Use your core muscles to pull the other leg in to meet it and then stretch out again.  It’s good to do this slowly for a few hundred (thousand?) steps to understand the concept.  

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