Tango can be danced in many different ways. For example, it can be danced in a virtual embrace where the two partners dance around each other without any physical contact. The man leads the woman by sending a visual signal from his torso to show how he wants her to move, and the woman follows the visual lead to carry out the step. A visual lead is difficult to perceive because it cannot be felt and must be seen. The difference between different signals often is so subtle that it is hard to discern. It's a challenge for the man to send a clear visual signal and for the woman to apprehend it. Also, a virtual embrace lacks the physicality, sensation and comfort of a physical embrace. It disables movements that require physical support. Despite these limits, the virtual embrace discloses an important distinction between lead and follow: the former is to plot the dance, and the latter is to beautify the dance. (See The Gender Roles in Tango.) It aso reveals the fact that lead/follow is not just a physical process but also a psychological one, requiring mental concentration and comprehension. The awareness of this fact is important because one cannot dance well with the feet unless one can dance with the heart.
The choice of embrace may be affected by many factors, such as the physical conditions (flexibility and stamina), styles (movement inclination or feeling inclination), purposes (social dancing or performance), environment (floor density and milonga codes), music (fast or slow tempo), movements (fancy or simple, large or small steps), maturity (age and experience), and genres (tango, vals or milonga) etc. Every embrace has its merits and limits. Many dancers alternate from one embrace to another back and forth in their dancing. Mixing different embraces can bring the dancer’s skills into full play, thus increase the expressiveness of the dance.