Argentine Tango Syllabus: Section B: How to Stand
(Note In Argentine Tango, the topics of Posture, Axis, Groundedness, and Balance are interdependent; I've grouped them all under the heading of "how to stand").
(See the Syllabus page for a list of the other topics in the syllabus.)
- B1: Balance
- B2: Posture
- B3: Groundedness ("stability")
- B4: Axis
- B5: Isolation, free leg and collection
Our balance relies on a combination of our inner ear mechanism, feedback from our body, and response from muscles.
There is also pivoting on the ball of the foot and this is something that both leaders and followers have to practice in order to achieve balance through the movement to achieve a degree of control; so that we are balanced through whatever amount of pivot we do.
- Keep axis vertical and shoulders horizontal
- Use the core muscles to move around your vertical axis (not a rotation of shoulders!)
- Keep shoulders relaxed & "down", and head & chest "up"
- Maintain your posture, especially when changing direction and pivotting
- Think "lifting up" everything above the waist, and "pushing down" everything below the waist.
Definition: Being grounded means focussing your energy downwards into the floor - being stable. So being less grounded means being less stable.
- Good stability is a key technique area for good dancing.
- Being grounded is helpful at all times - and especially when doing movements which can involve loss of balance - pivots, leans, and so on.
- The leader "grounds" to indicate weight change to the follower and the follower "grounds" to let the leader know where her weight-bearing foot is.
- To become grounded, lower your hips slightly closer to the floor, and at the same time push into the floor with your weight-bearing foot. Walk as though the floor was six inches lower.
Definition: "Axis" is a notional vertical line through your centre of gravity; lying somewhere between your navel and your spine, running up through your neck and head, around which the body can twist eg chest relative to hips. Below the navel, the axis will continue and arrive, for example into the foot of the supporting leg.
- Each partner should always be balanced on his/her own axis. In other words, don't fall over :)
- Your weight should be towards the front of the foot of the supporting leg.
- The follower's non weight bearing leg ("free leg") is relaxed - free from any muscle tension so that it can respond naturally to changes in direction from the lead
- The leader should ensure the follower has arrived on her balance point before executing a change in direction
- Isolation ("dissociation"): The chest (and above) being independent from the hips and below, (or the chest and hips facing a different direction from each other). For forwards and back steps, the hips point in the direction of movement. For side steps, the hips are perpendicular to the direction of movement.
- Free leg movement: The non-weight-bearing leg ("free leg") should always be able to move freely. This is especially relevant for followers, who need to move their free legs without transferring weight, as part of each step.
- Collection: By default, bring the feet or ankles back (or close) to each other between steps (but not necessarily pausing there)