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.

December 17, 2017

Partner-Centered Leading vs.Self-Centered Leading

A leader is either a partner-centered leader or a self-centered leader. The former leads the woman gently, thoughtfully, attentively and patiently in accordance with the physiology of her body. The latter, on the contrary, tends to coerce her do things beyond her comfortable zone. For example, he leads her take very large steps, which a partner-centered leader would divide into smaller steps; or leads her chase the beats, whereas a partner-centered leader would allow her time to finish her steps; or leads her do arbitrary figures, whereas a partner-centered leader would use simple steps to display her natural beauty; or focuses on his own performance and uses her as a foil to his self-centered exhibition, whereas a partner-centered leader would accommodate her, shine her, and let her be the center of attention.

Here is an example of self-centered leading.

In this example, the man only focused on his own performance. He hastily chased the beats and rushed the woman to make awkward steps and drastic turns but failed to follow the lamentable mood of the music. (See Revealing Her Beauty in Tango.) As a result, his self-exhibition overshadowed her performance and eclipsed her feminine beauty.

In contrast, a partner-centered leader dances for the woman. Here is an example of partner-centered leading.

In this example the man did not force the woman to take big, awkward steps, as being the case in the first clip, but led her dance in natural steps to reveal her feminine beauty. He did not coerce her with the arms and hands, as being the case in the first clip, but kept her in the comfort of his embrace and led her very gently with his torso. He did not make her dance against the inertia of her body, as being the case in the first clip, but led her by the inertia to make the step easy for her. He did not force her to rotate on a tilted axis, as being the case in the first clip, but adjusted his position to accommodate her and facilitate her turns. He did not lead her do abrupt movements, as being the case in the first clip, but waited for her to finish each step before he led the next step. He did not rush her to chase the beats, as being the case in the first clip, but allowed her time to complete her steps.

These made it possible for her to focus on the communication of feelings and on the quality of her movements. Because the woman dances around the man, she needs to swivel her hips in order to step on his side. (See Dissociation and Gear Effect.) The hip rotation, while highlights her femininity, takes time to complete. The man must understand that and allow the woman time to finish her movement, as demonstrated in this video thanks to the excellent lead. We can tell her appreciation by the way she looked at him at the end.

Watch the video again in full screen to see how beautiful a woman's dance can be when she has a good leader. I recommend using this video as a teaching tool. Every man, novice and veteran alike, can learn a lot about how to lead from this video. (See The Elegance of the Mionguero Style.)


  1. Yes, well put, Paul. The connection between the partner-centred couple is palpable.

    I find it very hard to enjoy dancing with a self-centred leader. It feels like he's trying to make me perform HIS set of tricks, rather than really dancing WITH me. However, I suspect that some ladies may enjoy being put to the test - perhaps to show they are able to keep up with him.

    Of course, there are also ladies who dance in a self-centred way. I'm referring to ladies who feel the need to embellish, regardless of whether it fits the lead and the music; or those who move ahead of their partner in anticipation of what he might be leading.

    Could this 'self-centredness' (of men and women) be a result of inexperience? Perhaps a result of teaching which focusses on performance rather than social dancing?

  2. These are two really good examples, thank you for putting them on show!

    It reminds me what to work on myself. The more experienced I become, the slower and more patient I am dancing. I agree with Patricia that it is a result of inexperience (and insecurity). The same applies to the ladies for embellishments and show moves.

  3. Well I would say the big difference is the fact that the first couple does e more show dance and the second just salon dance... thus it depends whether you expect to see show or salon.....to be really precize you would have to compare 2 salon-dances......;-)