Argentine Tango Encyclopedia

Tension (deprecated) is a vague term which is used to describe

  • the gentle muscle contractions we need to keep our bodies connected (for example contraction of triceps muscle to keep the embrace taut)
  • intense muscle contractions we need to support dramatic moves like rebvolcada and colgada
  • excess habitual muscle contractions which block communication..

What is excessive or habitual tension?

Dancing with tension in the body is like talking in a noisy room, it means we have to be louder and more forceful in order to communicate. Excess tension in the embrace blocks the flow of information and prevents change of embrace. It should be avoided by default.

We minimize tension as a default so that we can use it for movements that require it

There are three main sources of tension

  • Habitual ways of holding our bodies. Many of us respond to stress or concentration with flexion and internal rotation of our shoulder joints (and some of us also do this with our hips). It takes a lot of practice to eliminate this habit. I find that it’s easier to replace that urge with activation of muscles ( and a slight extension of joints) than to try to cancel tension with the exhortation “Relax!” 
  • Falling. When the revel feels off balance, she often flexes and internally rotates her arms to support herself. The solution for this is to strengthen her arc so she feels more balanced. As soon as the revel puts weight on the mark, he will copy her tension, often in the same ways, to hold her. Escape this cycle through regular mutual rebooting: align and activate your bases, externally rotate shoulder and elbow joints, and gently extend your elbow joints.
  • Marking with the embrace rather than the body. When marks feel they have to hold the revel and steer her with arms, they tense the embrace. This kind of marking is both unpleasant and limited. Rather than trying to move the revel with the embrace, marks only need to communicate with her through it. This requires only a few mm of motion.

Variations of Each Element


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