…IT’S ALL ABOUT THE PIVOT.
A good pivot can transform your tango, making your response to the leader’s markings quicker and lighter. You will improve your connection to the dance floor as well as to your partner, creating leverage for better balanced side-steps and more controlled leg extensions. For the leader, an improved pivot can take your giros and ochos to another level, allowing you to guide your partner easily without having to resort to rowing of the arms.
Many leaders and followers are afraid to keep their weight forward on the balls of the feet because they think that they will balance better with weight on the heel, however this means that they cannot pivot properly as the heel acts as a brake. Some beginners even insist on keeping the weight on two feet which often causes them to set off on the wrong foot and means that they have a hard time pivoting. Often they even try to break up the pivot step into three steps!
Tips for a better pivot:
- push downwards into the floor to pivot rather than just thinking of turning. This improves grip and makes for smoother movement connected to the dance floor.
- Keep your thighs, knees and ankles pressed together to help you turn (when applicable). The outer foot can help the inner foot turn.
- make sure that in giros or turns you do not side step with an out-turned foot in order to shortcut the pivot required for the forward half-ocho (a small turning out of the toes is ok for aesthetics)
- Don’t forget to pivot before the backward ocho as, technique and aesthetics aside, you will also strain the knee of your supporting leg.
- The hips and the feet must work together for the pivot, in conjunction with the shoulders which need to compensate for the torsion by keeping aligned with those of the dance partner.
- Contrary to what some people believe, the movement for the pivot is not limited to the hips and below, there is also some torsion right up to the underarm when a wide angle such as for an ocho is required.
- As well as practising ochos, make sure to practise, 180 degree and even 360 degree pivots.
- Lastly, make sure you have the correct soles! Leather or suede is best, most rubber soles will be counter-productive (although some specialist dance shoes have rubber soles).