Tango can be danced in many ways. For example, it can be danced in a virtual embrace where the two partners dance around each other at a distance without actually touching each other. The man leads the woman with 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 by the eye. It's quite challenging for the man to send a clear visual signal and for the woman to apprehend it. Also, the virtual embrace lacks the physicality, comfort and sensation of the 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 also 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 we cannot dance well with the feet unless we can dance with the heart.
Experienced dancers may also use some variations of the close embrace to increase movement possibilities. One variation is the V-shaped embrace in which the two partners are connected with one side of their torsos and leave the other side open. Another is to increase the incline of the body to allow more space between their legs. The combination of the two is still another option. These variations require more flexibility and stamina of the body. In actual dancing dancers often switch from one variation to another. For example, when dancing ocho, the woman may change from one side V-shaped contact to a chest-to-chest contact to another side V-shaped contact.
The choice of embrace is affected by many factors, such as physical conditions (flexibility and stamina), dance 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. Dancers often alternate from one embrace to another embrace in the dance. Mixing different embraces may enable some dancers to bring their skills into full play, thus increase the expressiveness of their dance.