The White Ghost Step

10th June 2010

"Watch that first step, it's a doozie!" ~ Groundhog Day


One of the hardest things I found in tango was getting the first step of the dance to work. I think I now know why.

Different teachers have different ideas on exactly what "being forward on your foot" means. I'm going to use it to mean "ball of foot" here simply because I think everyone will agree with what that means. You can then adjust it to whatever it actually means in the way you're taught.

When you begin a dance, the follower will be slightly forward of her axis. This means that you have to transfer her back to her axis before she can take a step.

Let's assume you've started in close embrace and you're on the ball of your foot. Physically how are you going to move her back that distance without falling over? (There are ways it can be done, but they're not easy!)


Try this. Instead of starting on the balls of your foot, start on your heels.

Transfer you weight forwards until the follower is on her axis (feel free to ask her to say out loud when she's done this if you're not sure). Where is your weight falling through your foot now?

Say it's falling through your instep. You now know that to do this transfer you're weight is going to move from your heel to your instep. You want it to be on your toes (in this example), so with a bit of measuring, experimentation etc, you work out that you want to start the dance with your weight falling through your instep, so that when you've transferred the follower fully onto her axis you're now on you're the ball of your foot where you want to be.

Obviously you need to do this adjustment using whatever part of the foot you want your weight to end up on when you're actually dancing.

This should make leading the first step much easier.

~ Christopher O'Shea, 10th June 2010

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