The Truth about Your Core Muscles and Tango Dancing

When taking part in any kind of dance, it really helps to be physically fit. If you can have a beautifully toned body, lungs that could hold air for days and an amazing stamina, then you are golden. But let’s be honest, not all of us can achieve Olympian level fitness.

What, with all the stress we go through? It is only understandable that you might be a little worse for wear. That, however, shouldn’t keep you from dancing the Tango away.

What does your core have to do with tango?

Your core! It’s all everyone seems to talk about nowadays, isn’t it? Your core this; your core that…whatever you do, it always seems to boil down to your core. If you have great postures and movement, then you have a well-structured and conditioned core. If you are struggling a bit…not so much. So, what does your core have to do with Tango?

photo from pixabay

What is your core?

While you may be forgiven for thinking that your core muscles are nothing more than your wicked set of abs (6-pack), the truth is, this group of muscles run a little bit deeper than that in your body. Your core, scientifically known as the transverse abdominis and the multifidus, are the deep abdominal and back muscles that run along your spine and maintain its stability.

So, when you hear your instructor say, ‘use your core’ and you decide to tighten your abs, you are probably not doing what he/she wants. Plus, have you ever tried dancing with flexed abdominal muscles? That does not make for the most fluid of movements.

Using your core for excellent Tango dancing

The thing about Tango dancing is that it is big on flexibility and stability. Two things that your core provide for your spine. A great deal of movement within this dance style has to do with understanding your axis and learning how to control it. In order to communicate and synchronize well with our partner, we need to be able to execute the slightest of movements that send a clear message about our intentions. Because they stabilize the spine, our core muscles allow us to fully control where our axis is and this allows us to move fluidly through the various steps.

Imagine trying to execute the ‘caricias’, ‘colgada’ or worse yet, ‘enganche’ without the right kind of core stability or endurance? To be honest, quite a number of the steps in Tango call for a solid core that is not only well balanced but also well-conditioned. This way, you do not have to worry about that wavering you get when trying to project or pivot. Only once you find stability in the basic movements can you start improvising and really coming into your own as a Tango dancer.

Some myths about using your core for Tango dancing

Although this group of muscles is by far one of the most important pieces of the puzzle when dancing, they are not the only thing you should focus on. The truth is, the more you hear about your core muscles when dancing, the more you will try to consciously include them. This has some side effects:

· You might end up tightening your abs instead which will lead to rigid movements.

· You may find that you hold your breath during various moves, which can be overly detrimental to your health and move execution.

· You might tighten up your chest, making you a bit stiffer than you would like.

· You might inadvertently lift your shoulders which might not look as elegant as you think it does and it just might throw off your partner.

These are all side effects that come with trying to over use your core during your dancing sessions.

The truth is, you need your core to be well conditioned if you are to fully enjoy your Tango experience. But remember, these muscles are always active, which means that they are designed for the ‘slow burn’ as opposed to intense bursts of energy. Learn how to subtly activate them and use them to stabilize yourself, find your axis and manipulate that as you see fit without keeling over.

As your skills improve, and the more you practice being in control of your core and axis, the better you will get at Tango. This is not something that will happen overnight. So go easy on yourself.

Written by: LeonSEO

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