In bicycling one uses the wheel to keep balance. In dancing one uses the steps to keep balance. All dancers need a good sense of equilibrium, but that is particularly true for a woman because she is the one being driven by the man. The man leads her by tilting her in the direction he wants her to move. How far she moves, however, is decided by her sense of equilibrium. If she steps not exactly where she should to keep her balance, she will fall. A falling woman relies on the man for her stability, thus becomes heavy. The man may not mind if the woman occasionally relies on him for balance, but if she hangs on him all the time and grabs him tightly in every move and turn, that could be quite a burden for him. A woman must know that maintaining her own balance is the key for her to be light in the dance. Some women habitually rely on the man for balance, as a result, their sense of equilibrium fails to develop.
Tango has a unique balance problem because the two partners intimately lean into each other to form an A-shaped frame. The A-shaped frame is a stable frame in which the partners support each other. A novice woman often does not realize that her support for the man is equally important as his for her. If she leans backward, she could pull him off his balance. This is a common problem for women not feeling comfortable of leaning on the man. On the other hand, some women lean too much on the man without letting their standing leg carry the most of their own weight, hence become heavy.
Dancing in a leaning position demands strength on her back. A woman with a weak back cannot sustain in that position for long, especially if the man holds her low and tight. An experienced woman maintains certain resistance in symmetry to the force that the man applies on her in both directions - his chest pushes her out and his arm pulls her in. Some women counteract the man with too much force, thus become heavy. The woman needs to know that maintaining balance is maintaining a state of stillness, uniform-speed rectilinear motion, or uniform-speed winding motion, not doing wrestling. She must be careful about how much resistance she applies to counteract the man to avoid being heavy.
For her to be light in the dance the motivity of her movement must come from herself rather than from the man. In other words, she should not rely on the man to move her, but should move herself. An experienced woman does so by pushing with her standing leg in the direction that she is led to go. Like a self-propelled mower, she dances by herself, thus is light. A novice woman, on the contrary, relies on the man to move her, and she grabs him tightly and moves reluctantly or resistively, thus becomes heavy. In order for the woman to be light she must surrender to the man and follow him willingly. She must not dance against his lead.
The man, on the other hand, should avoid putting pressure on the woman's waist, as that may restrict her movement. A tall man should use his stomach rather than chest to lead a short woman, not bend his torso to add pressure on her since that could cause her to bend backwards if she does not have a strong back. As her strength and balance improve, she may sustain more pressure, lean more on the man to expand her movement possibility, or even want him to hold her on her waist. Men often see experienced dancers dance this way or that way and some may try to imitate before their partner is ready. Keep in mind that tango can be danced in many ways. One should choose a way that suits the ability of one's partner.