Natural Tango

Probably the most remarkable thing about the great milongueros is the strong, effortless way they step. Unlike stage performers, they never reach forward tentatively with the foot, or use a lot of muscle to step onto a bent leg. They know exactly where the floor is, and they step firmly into it. Even the smallest and oldest of them have this powerful, sure step. 


Miguel BalbiRicardo Vidort y AlejElba y BlasLucia y Oscar
(L to R): Miguel Balbi, Ricardo Vidort y Alej, Blas y Elba, Oscar y Lucia


How do they do it? Part of it has to do with posture. Having the weight tip forward to step onto a straight leg insures a solid foot plant, rather than a light one. But there is more. Track sprinters are obsessed with taking long powerful strides to accelerate out of the blocks. Coaches discovered that an important key was to keep the back relaxed. When a muscle tightens, it becomes shorter. The muscles of the lower back are connected to the hamstrings, which run down the back of the leg, so if they contract, the leg can’t stride out quite as far. Like a cable tightening, every bit of tension in the lower back shortens the distance the leg can extend forward. So by staying upright, centered, and relaxed—and then using the weight of their bodies to tip forward and mark the lead—the best milongueros are able take large forward steps with very little effort.

Stepping onto a straight leg does not mean that the legs are never bent. Note in the pictures below how the milongueros push off into their steps. They accelerate strongly, like an athlete running on a playing field.


ToninoOscar y LuciaOscar HectorGerard y Alej
(L to R): Tonino y Norma, Oscar y Lucia, Oscar Hector, Gerard Gellé y Alej