In tango, a relaxed yet stable walk is very important. It turns out that the same walk in our everyday life can help us be more engaged in the world around us. Feeling our strength in the ground and relaxing through our steps while standing tall feels really good! We can feel much more aware of our selves and the world around us. Relaxing into the walk can be difficult, but luckily we have the ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’ to help us! This is a very silly walk, so maybe you just want to do it at home, unless you don’t mind looking silly, in which case feel free to do this walk wherever you like.
Silly anesthetized walk
The goals of the silly anesthetized walk is to get you to engage the ground and create stability and at the same time get your body to relax. These are the first steps toward getting what many people in Tango call a ‘free hip’ or ‘free leg’.
Begin by ‘Fine tuning your posture’. Start walking. As you walk, work to be on just one foot at a time. Make the transition from one foot to the other very decisive. Remember to put your heel down first, like you walk down the street– no ice skating or tip-toeing! Those are different silly walks. You may wish to revisit another silly walk, Launching instead of landing. That is a good way to start.
Pretend the whole other side of your body fell asleep
Once you have that working, as you arrive decisively in your step, pretend the whole other side of your body fell asleep, like it was anesthetized. Let it go limp, let it hang back. Keep your spine upright, but let your leg, side and arm feel floppy.
Now it will take more effort to drag your leg forward, but let it flop ahead, and let your shoulder flop back to counterbalance it. Then push off onto your floppy leg, feel the ground rise up through your leg and into your body. Let your other side relax and droop.
Remember, it’s a silly walk!
Take another step! And another. Be goofy if that helps. Think about zombies, or rag dolls, whatever helps you be floppy. Remember, it’s a silly walk!
Once you’ve had some fun with that, start bringing it back to a normal walk, try to keep one side engaged and the other relaxed, try to be smooth, eventually walking in a way that no one on the street would know you were doing anything different, except that you look way cooler. This walk is especially easy while going downhill and somewhat challenging going up hill. It is worth doing both if you have a hill available. Try not to lean into the hill as you go up, stand up straight and see how that feels. Also try walking very slowly, smoothly moving each relaxed leg forward as the spiral moves through your body.
This relaxed movement is a very fundamental idea for tango.
Have fun with this walk, try it out every once in a while. See how subtle you can make it. Maybe no one will notice. Maybe they will just think you are super relaxed and cool to have such an easy and confident walk. Enjoy the awareness you now have while walking in your everyday life. In the dance, the relaxed state of your free hip will create a nicer lag time through all of your movement along with an amazing ability to adapt to changes in direction. For leaders this could lead to a conservation of steps, allowing every step to have greater meaning in the music and to your partner. This relaxed movement is a very fundamental idea for tango. Many wonderful aspects of the dance cannot manifest in your movement until this skill is mastered. Among them, to some degree, are stability, clarity of your steps, boleos, leg wraps, sacadas, and best of all, a higher dynamic range within the embrace.