Floating elbows practice

The position of the arms in the tango embrace is not intuitive and is somewhat physically demanding. We normally visualise the arms in the embrace to be below the level of the shoulders and so tend to drop them down lower than is desirable. It is more useful to visualise the arms floating on the level with or slightly above the shoulders. So we want to get into the correct position, with the right image, and we want to maintain the position for as long as possible, preferably for the duration of the dance.

In this practice we start by doing the bow practice (see Alignment: the bow practice). You can then practice floating your elbows and hands just above the level of the shoulders. You want to have the image of elbows lightly lifted or pulled up above the shoulders and you want to maintain this image throughout the dance.

The exact position of the elbows will be slightly different for men and women. For women the right elbow is more to the right and the left elbow is closer to the face. For men the left elbow is more to the left and the right elbow is closer to the face. Keep the hands relaxed throughout this practice. Visualise having strings attached to your hands and elbows lightly pulling them up so that they float above the shoulders.


  1. There is a tendency to drop the arms in the embrace below what is desirable
  2. We need to learn to float the elbows above the shoulders
  3. Imagine your elbows floating up
  4. Begin with the bow practice
  5. Release the hands but continue floating hands and elbows above your shoulders
  6. Visualise your hands and elbows floating or being pulled up
  7. Practice this position during your walking practice
  8. Take regular breaks when needed