Tango is not only a fascinating dance but also a fascinating philosophy, culture and lifestyle. The search of tango is the search of connection, love, unity, beauty, harmony and humanity, i.e., an idealism that is not consistent with the dehumanizing reality of the modern world. The world divides us as individuals, but tango unites us as a community and people. In tango we are not individualists, feminists, nationalists, liberals, conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, etc., but interconnected and interdependent members of the human family. Tango calls us to tear down the walls, to build bridges, and to regain humanity through connection, cooperation, reconciliation and compromise. It is a dance that teaches the world to love.

February 24, 2013

Tai Chi and Tango

I have been introduced to tai chi, a slow motion Chinese martial art, and was immediately hooked by its attributes pertinent to tango - rhythm, precision, flexibility, control, balance and beauty. Here is an example of tai chi.

Tai chi is practiced in a half squatting posture that requires the flexibility and strength of the legs to enable one to move like a cat. The body weight is placed on one leg and slowly transferred to the other leg while the torso remains upright in the movement. All body parts, including the arms, the hands, the torso, the waist, the hips, the thighs, the knees and the ankles, are used in the making of the movement, demanding good coordination, balance and control. Every movement is well defined to meet the aesthetics and must be done precisely according to the standard. The request on the strength and flexibility of the legs is very high due to the slow motion in half squatting posturing, which can help to develop the strength, flexibility and control of the legs.

All these are relevant to tango because, like tai chi, tango, too, is mainly a leg exercise, although all parts of the body including the arms, the hands, the torso, the waist, the hips, the thighs, the knees and the ankles are used and must be well coordinated to form the steps. Tango dancers often do not realize that their lack of lightness, balance, control, coordination, precision and elegance is a result of the lack of strength and flexibility of the legs. Those who want to overcome these shortages can benefit tremendously from practicing tai chi. 

Although tai chi does not need to be practiced to music, its movement has its own rhythm, as you can see from the example. Tai chi is deliberately designed to be practiced in slow motion for health and fitness purpose, which can help tango dancers to improve the ability of dancing in slow motion. However, tai chi can also be practiced in fast motion to help develop nimbleness and speed. All these traits make tai chi an excellent exercise for tango dancers to build up their body and improve their ability for the dance.

Those who are interested in learning tai chi can start from here.


  1. Very good article. Well written and easy to understand. The links are useful too because now I will attempt to learn tai chi as part of my tango training.

  2. I advice always taichi to beginning tango pupils to learn to use balance and breathing during movement.