How to create a better tango embrace – the secret of Arm Spirals


Without its embrace, Tango wouldn’t be Tango. But creating a comfortable tango embrace and maintaining it during the dance is hard if you don’t know how.

We usually get a lot of information while learning tango about how the embrace should feel – both in terms of technique and emotion. But there are many reasons for us to lose focus during the dance, and our tango embrace migh suffer because of them.

Sophia Luisa Paul & Julio César Calderon

Preserving the quality of your tango embrace

Imagine trying to stay relaxed and enjoy the dance while paying attention to your partner, finding your interpretation of the music, keeping in mind that the elbow on the close side of the embrace is not coming down so it won’t block the pivot…

…while the elbow on the open side of the embrace has a connection to the elbow of your partner, and the shoulders are staying down and not coming up, while your arms connect with your back, keeping the elbows in front and not behind your body, while making sure that the hand on the open side of the embrace is not shortening your space…


You get the point.

Is there a way to focus on only one thing, and be confident that everything else will fall in place easier?

Connect with Sophia Luisa Paul & Julio César Calderon on the Tango Partner app
Sophia and Julio on Tango Partner

A simple way to create and maintain a comfortable embrace

There is an exercise that will give you the possibility to reunite a lot of concepts without the need to think too much – the spirals of our arms.

  • First, pull out your right arm straight in front of you. Take your left hand and place it to the upper part of your right arm.
  • Now, with the help of your left hand, you can turn your right arm outside and inside. Feel what is your maximal inside and outside rotation.
  • Then, use your left hand to fix your right arm in an outside rotation position. Now you can still rotate the lower part of your arm (try rotating your elbow – not the wrist). It is less than the upper arm, but there will still be a rotation.
  • Try to find an inside rotation in your lower arm while maintaining the outside rotation of the upper arm. After this, there is a remaining possibility: rotating your wrist. Give it a little outside rotation.

Now you can feel the spiral in your arm: outside rotation in the upper arm, inside rotation of the lower arm, and a little outside rotation in the hand.

Try the same exercise with your other arm. 

How to practice musicality using paradas – by Julio and Sophia

A variation

After that, you can try the same exercise in a “T-position” where you have your arms at the side but a little in front of your body. 

If you first practice feeling the spirals and then go to the “Tango embrace” you will have a better structure and awareness of it!

This concept is quite easy to remember and to practice, so after training it a bit, you will have your mind free and can focus on the important emotional part!

Sophia Luisa Paul – from the book Tango Tips by the Maestros

Sophia Luisa Paul & Julio César Calderon – Germany

Sophia and Julio got to know each other in Buenos Aires in 2016. They love Tango and they love the continuous challenge of growing and investigating. Together they danced in the most prestige Milongas and Festivals, won the German Championship, the European Tango Contest Münster in Milonga & Vals, and made it to the finals of the World Tango Championship. They love sharing their knowledge. Their focus is a clearly structured way of teaching, using the technique to make it possible for everybody to learn Tango and express their own personality.

Connect with Sophia with the Tango Partner app. See more amazing Tango tips here

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