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 people and species. 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 strength on the legs to enable one to move like a cat. The body weight is placed on one leg and transferred to the other leg in slow motion back and forth while the torso remains upright and straight in the movement. All parts of the body, including hands, arms, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles, are used to form the movement, demanding good coordination, balance and control. Each 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 one 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, though all parts of the body, including hands, arms, torso, waist, hips, thighs, knees and ankles, are used and must be 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 their legs. Those who want to overcome this shortage can benefit tremendously from practicing tai chi. 

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