Tango Topics | Exploring Your Dance


Pushing. According to Webster’s Dictionary the word ‘Push’ is a verb that means “to exert force on (someone or something), typically with one’s hand, in order to move them away from oneself or the origin of the force”. It comes from the middle english word (1250 – 1300) ‘pushen’. Pushing is the adjective form, and generally means the same thing. Generally. 😉

Tango Pushing or Pushing in Tango occurs when we use our arms, and in specific the Lead’s left forearms, elbow, hand, as well as the right elbow, and right bicep to create tension and force, in order to move one’s partner into and out of vocabulary choices in time to the music. While pushing can be done with the body as a whole, and is done to a certain extent within the Apilado stance, it’s generally employed with the arms and hands.

Usage. To be fair a good number of dancers expect this way of dancing. Pushing is an affectation of ‘resistance based dancing’ (the opposite of ‘intention based dancing’). Generally a Lead will initiate this way of dancing, meaning that the Lead will push their Followers through vocabulary in order to keep their sense of timing to the musical choices or just the choices themselves without relationship to the music. 🙁 Pushing can also an affectation of the concept of waiting.

Waiting For The Lead. A good portion of Followers are told, right from the moment that they start, that they must ‘wait’ for their L/lead (the person, and the action). As a result of this built in state, a good portion of those Followers become slow and lethargic in their responses over time by default. And as a result of this sloth-like movement, the Lead feels as though they must push in order to get the Follower to execute.

Blaming The Follower. The fact of the matter is that a good number of Leads blame their Followers for them for just not executing. And that blame comes in the form of ‘Pushing’. They stop leading their Followers and start pushing by default and this becomes their way of dancing. To be fair, a lead, has to be told not to do this very early on, they have to be shown where and how they are pushing with their embrace so that they can learn to avoid it and really learn to lead X, Y, and Z.

Belief ? The belief is that no one believes that they use their arms, or hands to push their partners around the floor. Further that when you ask people is this something they were taught to do, the answer is a very clear “No”. And further still when you ask Followers does Dancer “A” push or use their arms ? Again the answer is a sometimes a “Maybe”, or “I don’t know…”.

Reality! A good portion of Leads use their arms and hands to push their Followers. Upwards of 70%. Most of that number do not employ proprioception, and end up contorting their bodies, and thereby their partners bodies as a result. As to the unclear negative to the question of whether or not a particular Lead uses their arms, more than likely the Follower knows that said Lead does and doesn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. Mostly because the ego of the Lead would be bruised and then they’d have to put up with having a discussion of defending their position and what that meant. (e.g. avoiding a potential argument.)

The Tango Topics Opinion: Tango Pushing is something we need to keep a watchful eye on as it is a less-than-desirable aspect of engaging the Embrace (no matter which one you employ). There is nothing useful here in any way, shape, or form of how to dance with your partner by pushing them with your arms. No one likes to be pushed…it’s that simple. To be clear, this is a hard habit to break with some Leads. This is not something you’re going to learn about in 5 minutes on youtube somewhere (mostly because there isn’t anyone aside from this author, that’s talking about this stuff), this stuff takes time and patience and constant reminders to unlearn what you have taught yourself to do. Lots and lots and lots and lots of reminders.  #SocialDance #ArgentineTango #TangoDancing

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