Argentine Tango Encyclopedia



The shoulder joint is the most complex joint in the body, with the most possibilities for motion.

You can spend a lot of money with teachers telling you to “relax” your shoulders. This instruction is ineffective, because as soon as we start to concentrate, we tend to tense and lift the shoulders. Rather than trying not to perform an autonomic reaction, a more functional instruction is to make an action: externally rotate your shoulders by gently contracting the shoulder stabilizing muscles of the rotator cuff.

We will use the term ‘shoulder-flexion’ to refer to changes in the angle between the arm and the body. The shoulders can flex vertically, moving the elbow upward in front or behind the body (vertical-shoulder-flexion), and they can flex laterally, moving the elbows from left to right (lateral-shoulder-flexion)

When we are moving in the same direction as our partner, neither shoulder-flexion should change.

The shoulder-flexions are used for two types of change-of-embrace:

We use elbow flexion and extension for a third change-of-embrace, which is to give permission for leaning moves (volcada and colgada).

Variations of Each Element


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