Coaching the Lead in close embrace.

Yesterday, I had my first real breakthru in Tango. I took a private class from a very advanced dancer/follow. She helped me with my posture and balance, continuously stopping and reminding me when it went out, which was often.
My head had been dropping forward which was a lot of weight going off balance and I was always concaving my chest as if to scoop her into my arms as I began the embrace.
She taught me how to stand erect but relaxed and invite the woman into my embrace.
At first, I was completely amazed and defeated by the additional complexity of the walk.
I had to do all this and hold a woman in my arms at the same time??
When at last, I understood the connection of the embrace (apilado) as a communication,
it started to click..when I could feel my chest (sternum) connection as THE communication of where we were going..the arms seemed to disappear and I began to really lead for the first time.
I'm asking here for more coaching on posture, balance, etc...what helped you in close embrace ?
What do you remind yourself of, in order to get it right each time?? thanks


Well-Known Member
Oh, wow! Good for you, that is awesome!!!

Things I think of for good posture and connection... (Usual disclaimer--I'm a follow. I don't know how much will be useful to you.)

Up! Up! Up!--I've been told that so many times. I used to (don't any more, b/c I can do it without the prep) envision a string connected to the top of my spine, at the back of my head, pulling up. At the same time, I push up from the floor, and really concentrate on feeling the lengthening through my ankles, to my knees, to my hips, and up through my back. My head tips forward a bit naturally, my pelvis is in a neutral position (not tucked under, and not sway-backed), and my spine feels as long as it can possibly feel.

Core toned, everything else relaxed--I had the hardest time figure out what my mysterious "core" was. Everyone talked about it, but no one bothered to explain it to me. Maybe I'm just dense, it's a possibility. Finally someone showed me to make a fist, and fit it in the V of my rib-cage, where the ribs come up into my sternum. THAT's how I think of my core. (I've also heard it explained as an elastic band connecting the sternum to the pelvis. Use whatever works for you.) I think about stretching up, keeping my core toned...and then relaxing everything else. Relax my shoulders and feel them pull down, relax my hips and feel how heavy my legs are. I just think of everything hanging off my spine.

Sternums hooked together--My teacher described the connection as imagining that there's a hook between his sternum and mine, and we can't be separated. As such, you can't hollow out your chest and pull away. And it's got to be up and into your partner. The other way he described it was to imagine being sewn together. Through the spine, out through your sternum, to your partner's sternum, and through to her spine. Not the most pretty explanation, but it works. And when I think of things like that, I really feel the connection not just between our chests, but I imagine that I can feel a connection between my spine and his.

So...there you go! Hope something helps.

Edit to add: I practice my posture all the time. Whenever I'm just standing around (which I do with some frequency, since I smoke), I practice it. I think of the rubber band, and move my pelvis from sway-backed, through neutral, to tucked, and settle on neutral position. I consciously tighten my core, and relax everything else. I try to make myself as tall as possible. I bring my weight forward over the instep/ball of my foot. The upside is that it feels absolutely wonderful when you get it right. Everything is all aligned, and there's no stress, and everything is just fluid and relaxed. Since my back tends to hurt a lot, I do this and it feels terriffic.


Well-Known Member
Glad something makes sense and is helpful!

Now, you have to promise me a dance if I'm ever in Philly! (You'll learn if you stick around, I'm a tango ho. :) Any chance for a dance of AT, and I'll take it. I think I've "propositioned" most of the guys here on D-F for a dance, lol. I'm just shameless that way!)
Now, you have to promise me a dance if I'm ever in Philly! (You'll learn if you stick around, I'm a tango ho. :) Any chance for a dance of AT, and I'll take it. I think I've "propositioned" most of the guys here on D-F for a dance, lol. I'm just shameless that way!)
LOL, this has got to be THE funniest post that I've ever read in a Tango's usually sooooo serious (especially Tango-L);)

..surely, if a woman asks a guy, she's got to be a ho!
I like tango ho's..I will be back in Philly at the end of May.,.you are always welcome. There's a sofa-bed in the studio.:cool:
Try a big theatrical yawn/stretch (arms and everything), then relax a bit back to upright without slumping. That should be about right. Two key things in my mind at the moment are tilt of the ribcage, and angle of shoulder blades. You can really notice your ribcage dropping down from a stretch position. If your shoulders are set for doing push-ups (or heaving followers around), then this is probably a bad thing.

Probably best not to be yawning in milongas though, might give off the wrong message. ;)

Some teachers have suggested to me that I should use my lats (under-arm muscle that goes down the rib cage) to lift my arms. While this is mechanically impossible, using them does get the shoulder angle right, as they oppose the correct muscles for holding your shoulders in an open position. After some exploratory wiggling of my limbs, I conclude that this advice can also be interpreted wrongly without intervention, so just think back rather than front muscles. In all cases - do not set yourself rigid.

Steve Pastor

Staff member
Good coverage of the subject so far, and Peaches has already mentioned the importance of pelvic position.
Here's a couple of sites to look at with diagrams and such.

Neutral Plevis and posture

At this site, devoted to belly dancing (Belly dancers are often excellent at AT because of the strength of their core and ability to maintain good posture)
search for "posture".

Not only will this make you a better dancer, you will probably look better, and have fewer back problems.

"the arms seemed to disappear "
Right. In apilado you shouldn't need your arms for much of anything, so how you hold someone is kind of irrelevant, as long as you are "embracing" each other "nicely". In the real world we all make "mistakes" in our dance, and the arms help out. The better you are at apilado, the less you need your arms.


Well-Known Member
anothr simple guide is to open your arms to the side fully extended and palms facing up.
This usually gets the chest open without creating too much tension and lifts the ribcage. Its a good place to start.

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