When we watch our favorite tango couples online, we're mesmerized by their amazing technique. But what exactly goes into that technique?

Once we start understanding particular steps and/or technique, we often find ourselves trying to control every single body movement in order to get things right. Intuitively, this makes sense. But the more we apply control, the more restriction we'll feel. And when we feel restricted and tense, nothing feels or looks right.

If we take a closer look at those tango pros, we'll notice that their movements reflect freedom and ease; they're not exerting absolute control over every movement. But when we try embracing freedom, tango feels more risky and though we're about to lose control.

Yet the need for control - or illusion thereof - is the very thing holding us back.

Tango requires us to embrace more freedom than we're comfortable with at first. But in the long run, things work better when we trust that our minds and bodies can handle that freedom.



Getting better at tango often means being careful with how much effort we exert. If we're in the beginning stages of learning, it's understandable to want to put forth a lot of physical exertion (leading with arms, anticipating while following, etc).

Although it's true that tango requires effort, the majority of our energy should be directed towards other areas: How much physical effort do we give our partners so they feel our connection, but not so much that we're knocking each other off axis? How much (or little) energy should we put into keeping our frame so that we have a solid presence, but not to the point where we feel tension...or feel too loose? Are we putting enough energy into finding our balance, or just falling into every step?

The concept of effort in tango shouldn't be associated only with physical force. It's more helpful to think about effort in terms of control. But let's not take that to mean we must control the entire dance. As one half of the tango partnership, we're always trusting 50% of the outcome to another person. That being said, what we're left with is a large amount of - and need for - self-control.

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