Contrabody Movement

Understanding and using contrabody and disassociation is the most important thing that separates a beginner tango dancer from intermediate and above. This chart (adapted from “Dance Anatomy and Kinesiology”) spineshows the normal range of rotation of each vertebrae joint in a healthy spine.

What should be clear is that the lower your connection point on the front of your body with your partner is, the more difficult contra-body becomes. If you are pulling your shoulders a way from your partner and connecting at the belly, almost no contra-body movement can be done, and you have to break the connection and open the embrace to do any disassociated movement.

Likewise, followers that place their left hand low on the leader’s back are only going to confuse themselves if the leader is doing disassociated movement because they are connecting with their hand in the region of disassociation instead of in the region of the lead.

The higher you and your partner can connect on your bodies, the more range of contrabody motion you can both have and the less need you will have to open the embrace.

But if you don’t want the front of your body to be connected with your partner, then without an embrace (an “open embrace”) you’ll have as much contrabody and disassociated range of motion as you can manage.

However, what you don’t want is to have your shoulders pulled back, your belly forward, your lower back in hyperlordosis, or your ass sticking out, because the damage you will do by hyper-extending all the vertebra along your spine will cause injuries over time.