When legs and feet fly, it appears as if all is quiet from the waist up…and therein lies the illusion. Action that generates fireworks is barely visible, and originates above the waist
It may appear that the man is leading the follower’s feet when actually he’s leading her axis by generating energy from his *axis.
When the follower maintains a firm axis as she feels and responds to the leader’s energy, this enables her to receive accurate information about when and where to step.
When the leader knows which foot the follower has her weight on, which direction/s make sense for her to step; and the follower is completely tuned in to her leader, Abracadabra! Without these “felt-but-not-seen” aspects, there is movement, but no tango.
Whether moves being led are simple (not the same as “easy”) or complex, when both partners dance from their core, everything has a far better chance of working well. If not, there may be other things that need attention like balance or timing, but leading and following from ones axis is the basis of tango.
To the untrained eye, it may seem impossible for a couple to move as one without planned choreography, but when the illusion is in place, oneness can be nearly effortless.
The difference between dancing with someone who leads or follows from their axis and one who doesn’t is like the difference between driving/ riding in a jalopy or a Jaguar. We can “get around” in either but the difference in quality of the ride…
Suggestion for leaders: Practice every move without using your arms to guide your partner. Lead walking and other moves you’ve learned by reaching forward without moving your shoulders forward; keep your arms softly rounded to embrace your partner and in the same position without dropping your elbows, bending your wrist, or lowering your shoulders. Compare how this feels with how it feels when you allow your arms to guide your partner instead of guiding her with your center/core/upper torso.
Ask partners for feedback about the difference between leading from your center and leading with your arms. Take their responses seriously but not personally. Film yourself with various partner.
Things are not always as they appear. Tango’s illusion is a prime example.
*Axis: imaginary line down the center of our body where energy for sending and receiving information to and from a partner is generated.