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Tango legends don't look at leg-ends!

posted Apr 10, 2014, 11:46 PM by Sophia de Lautour   [ updated Apr 16, 2014, 7:02 PM ]
tango feet shoes dance
"Novice tangueros are worried about their feet so look downwards and spoil their balance. Expert tangueros know their feet are just leg-ends!" 
(David Turner)

Expanding on this theme, here's some excerpts from a post in Alfredo Melendez's Dance Blog - 'Don't Look Down'...

Looking down affect one’s posture

When dancing in partnership, keeping the proper posture for the dance is key. By looking down with the eyes, the head naturally tilts towards the floor, which can evolve to an inward fold of posture and collapse of the torso. As a result, the connection between partners becomes difficult to maintain.

By keeping the eyes and head up, one’s chest is more open and in a better position to either lead or follow.

bad posture tango looking down at feet
Looking down affects one’s physical movement


When a person walks down the street and window-shops, reads a book or studies the gum pattern on the sidewalk, there is a good chance that s/he will bump into someone else. The walker’s focus is controlled by the direction of the eyes. On the dance floor, the lack of focus with the eyes can throw the partnership off course.

Keeping your eyes and head up makes the quality and the intention of your movement easier to understand. Looking down can literally stall a partnership that is trying to move from one place to another. In particular, any move that travels (walking forward or backward, pivoting, dancing a grapevine pattern, etc.) is best executed when the eyes look in the direction of intention.

Looking down affects one’s learning process

If a partner is holding a dance frame with someone else and looks down, how many feet will s/he see? More importantly, whose feet comes into view first?

Partner dancers often mirror each others’ footwork — if the Lead is using the left foot, the Follow will be using the right. Looking down brings four feet moving in different directions into view. It can confuse the brain. The logical part of the brain is going, “Hey wait a minute, should I be doing this step or that step?” By the time the brain processes that all is
bad posture feet dance tango
well, the body has reacted and calamity may follow.

Partner dancing involves learning footwork. The mind needs time to exercise its ability to recall what it knows without a visual assist. (For people who are visual learners, some time may be needed to look down or at a mirror while practicing. Taking the time to practice without looking down can help improve one’s confidence in the quality of their movement.)

Not looking down allows the body to be in the right posture, dance movement to flow naturally, and the brain to focus on only one set of feet. For a Lead, looking in the direction of movement can communicate intention and help drive the body towards the next step in a clean fashion. For a Follow, looking towards the Lead’s centre or eyes encourages stronger connection to the changes of pattern and dynamic.



Stick images: sourced from Alfredo Melendez's Dance Blog
Shoes image: sourced from DeviantArt
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