22T 1 | Anatomy Of Tango


There is an old adage that says, “It takes two to tango.” For a partner dance to work, two people have to be in tempo. In this first episode of The 22Tango Show, Linda Sutton talks about the anatomy of tango and uses it as a metaphor for interaction in relationships. She dissects the terminology and construction of tango and links it to passion, intimacy, and relationships. After all, tango is a dance of emotions participated in by two people. It makes perfect sense for them to be in sync.

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Anatomy Of Tango: Passion, Intimacy, And Relationship

Welcome to The 22Tango Show, where our role and goal is to help you with all of your relationships. From your relationship with God and self, intimate partner and family, community, nature and nations. I am your host and usually doing the most, Linda Sutton. We’re going to be talking about why are we using Tango as a metaphor for harmonious and passionate relationships? In order to understand that, you’re going to have to understand the anatomy of a Tango. That is what we are going to construct on this episode.

In this episode, we are tackling the anatomy of a Tango. I believe that Tango is a perfect metaphor for harmonious and passionate relationships. Number one, because Tango is a partner dance. In order for that partner dance to work, two people have to get in step within seconds for the dance to work. In this partner dance, once the two individuals within the dance initiate the dance, if they don’t get in-step, in-sync, on the same page, and on the same footing within the first few seconds of the dance, then shortly thereafter, they’re going to be stumbling and it’s going to be awkward. They’re going to be bumping into each other. They’re going to be stepping on each other’s toes. That is like a train wreck waiting to happen, and you watch it happening on the floor.

The number one cause of relationship breakdown is communication, but it's also the number one key to any relationship's success. Click To Tweet

However, if the two individuals within the couple in the partner dance get in-sync and get in-step quickly, then it sets the stage for the unfoldment of a graceful, beautiful and magical experience for the both of them. To me, partner dance and specifically, Tango is a perfect metaphor for creating a harmonious dance in a relationship. Another critical thing to pay attention about in terms of why Tango is the perfect metaphor for a harmonious and passionate relationship or interaction of any kind is that it involves a great deal of nonverbal communication. We often say that the number one breakdown in any relationship is communication, but it’s also the number one key to the success of any relationship. The number one attribute given to a successful relationship is usually communication because that’s where it breaks down.

Most people are not even aware that 93% of communication is nonverbal. Only 7% of communication is verbal, meaning the actual words that are spoken. Ninety-three percent of all communication is nonverbal referring to the tone, the body language, the intention, and the energy behind the words that are delivered. Everything from your posture, your body positioning, the tone, the volume, all of those body language dynamics, the energy and intention behind the words is the bulk of the communication. Only 7% of it is words in the whole formula that is communication.

Why is that important? If only 7% of communication is verbal and 93% of it is nonverbal, then we need to get a real mastery of the nonverbal elements of communication in order to have successful communication. It’s no wonder that communication breaks down in relationships because if we’re relying primarily on the words in order to communicate the idea and the message, and we’re missing the other 93% that is the bulk of the communication equation, then it’s no surprise that there is a great deal of miscommunication, misunderstandings and break down in the communication.

If you look at a partner dance, one of the critical elements of partner dancing is that the two people are communicating information nonverbally. If you’ve never thought about it before, most of the time when a partner dance is occurring unless it’s in a classroom setting, the two people are not whispering in each other’s ear like, “Move your left foot. Move your right foot. Step back. Step together.” When you’re getting your instruction, yes, but when it’s time to be social and just dance, all that communication verbally ceases, and then the nonverbal exchange takes over and arises.

In fact, dance relies primarily on nonverbal communication to have a successful exchange and a successful experience. The more successful that nonverbal communication, the more graceful, elegant and harmonious the dance is, and it even appears to others. Not only that the dancers experience that harmony, synergy, and that connection of passion, but also all those who are around in the environment, either dancing with them or observing can also see and experience that connection, synergy and harmony, which is critical when it comes to the impact that a couple has on the community around it.

Let’s dive into the elements that make up a Tango. Why do I say the anatomy of a Tango? Anatomy refers to understanding the study of a structure of a thing and its parts. In other words, like in the human body, what are the parts that make up the human body and contribute to the whole that it is? Especially for my non-dancers, I want you to be clear and understand, even though you’ve seen a dance, you may not have thought about it in terms of the elements that make it up. Even dancers, you may not have thought about it in this particular construct in a way to not only build a successful Tango, but also the comparable or parallel corresponding elements in a relationship that leads to a successful relationship.

6 Core Elements Of Tango:

Let’s get into it. For the sake of discussion, we’re going to talk about the anatomy of a Tango, having six core elements that make up six fundamental large things that make up a Tango. In Tango, there are the leader, the follower, the embrace, the principles of the dance, the rules or the principles that govern it, the construct, the environment meaning the place in which you’re dancing, and then the music or whatever rhythm or vibrational sound is governing what you’re dancing to. Let’s go through those parts.

The two roles or positions that make up the anatomy of Tango are a leader and a follower. I know in Western culture, the undercurrent of gender roles that usually arise when people think of leader and follower can be triggering to people. I’m going to acknowledge that upfront. In subsequent episodes, I’m going to deal with those head-on in terms of the things that gender roles trigger in the ideas of leader and follower, especially the follower. The follower, which is the role that is attributed to the feet, the woman or the lady in the dance and is attributed to the feminine energy. I know in this Western culture and construct societal culture that can be triggering, but we’re going to come back to that.

22T 1 | Anatomy Of Tango

Anatomy Of Tango: The more successful nonverbal communication in a dance, the more graceful, elegant, harmonious the dance is, and even appears to others.


There’s a leader and a follower in the dance. These are the two positions and roles in the dance. They are very distinctive roles. They are very clear roles and have different functions in the dance. They also represent two different positions. The dance moves in a counterclockwise fashion on the floor. Not only does the leader and the follower represent two different roles, but they also represent the primary position or the predominant position of the person in the couple in the dance. If the dance is moving counterclockwise, if you’re looking in the clock rather than going 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, we’re talking about going backward. We’re talking about moving from the 12 position to the 11 position, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, back to the 12th position. It’s counterclockwise.

The position of the leader is to be facing in the direction of traffic, and the position of the follower is to face away from the direction of the traffic. The leader is leading in the flow of traffic, which is counterclockwise and the follower has their back to the traffic. It’s important to understand that because that will give us a lot of insight about roles and responsibilities in the dance. Even though we’re talking about leader and follower, primarily I will talk about leader and follower in the role of man and woman or gentlemen and lady, because in traditional dance roles and traditional roles, the man takes on the role of the leader and the woman takes on the role of the follower.

Even more importantly, those roles represent two different energies. Those two energies correspond to energies that occur in nature, in the universe, in the cosmos. The clearest definition of that that we often refer to in Western culture is the idea of yin and yang. They are not Western constructs. They’re elements from the Chinese philosophy of Taoism and they reflect the two energies that occur in nature, in the universe. Those two energies are the masculine and the feminine energy. Masculine being yang and feminine being yin. Those two elements are in the universe. Those two elements are opposite forces or energies, but they are equal, complementary and interdependent.

Why do I use that particular construct to help us to better understand the role of leader and follower, man and woman in the dance? Because it is a physical expression of what yin and yang are, masculine and feminine, man and woman. The leader and follower, the man and woman in this interaction, in this relationship have equal roles. They’re opposite roles, but they are equal, complementary and interdependent. It is important for us to understand that those two roles and two positions, though they’re opposite, they are equal in value. They are equal in purpose and in function. Why do I emphasize that? One of the reasons is because, in our current societal structure, we tend to sometimes perceive masculine and feminine roles in a hierarchical nature, but that is not the case. Tango helps us to understand that.

Why do I say that? In Tango, there is no leader if there is no follower. You cannot be a leader if you have no followers. A leader only exists when there is a follower who is willing to lend their energy or their power or yield to the leadership energy. Those two roles are interdependent. If there is no follower who’s willing to yield to the energy of what we call leading, then there was no leader. There’s an interdependence there. Equally, if there is not someone to receive, if there is not a receiving of an energy, then there is no following.

That’s why I say they are equal because they both have to exist at the same time simultaneously for the other to exist, but they are also complementary and interdependent. Meaning, they work together in concert with one another to make the whole. What makes a partner dance is the partner. What makes a Tango a Tango and not a two-step or a cha-cha slide is the fact that you have a partner. By nature, a Tango requires both people in their roles operating in their functions for the Tango to function and operate. I wanted to take that on.

Number one is leader, number two is follower, number three and the third element that makes up a Tango is the embrace. I like to call it the glue or the thing that connects or solidifies the connection. You have this masculine and feminine energy, leader and follower, and these two roles, but what makes them come together and work in concert is this thing called the embrace. The embrace is the structure that connects. When the two parties are not in the embrace, the Tango doesn’t happen, there is no Tango. There was no construct for the principals to work in. That embrace must be there. There’s something that connects and binds them. That is what makes up the Tango. That is important for it to be there. Without that thing that binds them and keeps them bound, there is no Tango. When that embrace breaks apart, then you just have two individuals, you don’t have a Tango. You don’t have a partnership in the construct of Tango.

Number four is the principles. Now that you have the leader, the follower, and they’re connected and come together into the embrace, the principles are the elements, structures, rules that govern how that dynamic works. How the masculine and feminine energy, the leader and follower roles, how those dynamics interact with one another to create a successful movement or dance? The principles are the rules that govern the roles in the dance. It tells how you use the embrace to facilitate that interaction, that exchange of information and energy that’s occurring between the two individuals in the couple.

Number five, you have the environment. You have the leader, the follower, they’re connected by the embrace, and these principles or rules that govern how they interact with one another. All of this occurs within the realm of an environment. The Tango is on a dance floor. The couple or the individuals are on a dance floor, but the environment does not just consist of the dance floor. The environment also consists of other dancers and other couples that are in the room as well.

It may also include furniture in the room. The entire setting where this couple is navigating or moving through is the environment elements of the anatomy that makes up a Tango. If this couple is not moving through space and time, then you don’t have a Tango. You may have some other type of dancing. You may have something else going on. They say that Tango is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire. As a general rule, this environment, this counterclockwise movement is a characteristic or element that makes up the anatomy of the dance. This navigation is a critical element that makes up the structure of the dance. There are other partner dances that are more channel in nature, where the couple moves in a channel just back and forth. The fact that the couple moves in a counter-circular fashion in Tango is a key element that makes it distinctive from other interactions.

The final and sixth element is the music. The music is the sound, vibration, the song that sets the rhythm and the pace for how the couple moves as well as how all of the couples move in the space. The music not only sets the rhythm and the pace, but it also provides guidance and direction to the couple on the mood, feels, and intensity of their interaction. Not only that but it also sets a pace and rhythm that governance or provides instruction for all of the couples on the floor. The couple that is dancing is not operating in a vacuum, unless they’re on a stage. They’re not operating by themselves. They are not an island onto themselves. They are a part of a whole of couples and other units that are moving on the floor that they need to move in concert with and navigate with. Sometimes around, but they have to navigate with because they’re all sharing a floor and they’re all sharing a space together.

The Figures Of Tango

Some people might say, “Why didn’t I talk about steps or figures as an element of Tango?” This is one of the distinctions between how I teach, how I share and help other people to understand Tango and many other instructors. It’s one of the secret elements, the secret sauce. Since we’re talking about Chinese philosophy of Taoism, that is one of the ancient Chinese secrets I would like to call it here in this dance, which is that the steps and the figures, the combination of steps. You put them in combinations. They’re what we call figures in Tango. When you take a whole bunch of steps and you put them together in a sequence, you either give figures. If you practice those figures over and over again, you get choreography.

Tango is the vertical expression of a horizontal desire. Click To Tweet

The steps or the figures are just outcomes. They are outcomes of principles that have been applied correctly. This is important. The fundamental structure is the principles. How the couple moves in concert with one another? When they do that correctly, then the outcome that you see is the steps, figures, and the choreography. That is after the fact. That is the beauty that everyone gets to bear witness to. That’s the beauty that everyone gets to see and get excited about. If the couple does not properly and successfully execute the principles that govern their interaction, you don’t see steps, figures and choreography that excites you and give you something that you even want to replicate. That is why I refer to principles as opposed to steps and figures in this dance.

Now that we’ve talked about the anatomy of a Tango, we’ve got the six core big elements in chunks. The leader, follower, embrace, principles, environment, and music. How does this have anything to do with relationships? Why does this have anything to do with relationships? Because each one of those elements has a corresponding equivalent in relationships. We’re going to go through those quickly so you have a framework, and that will give you an insight on the basic things that you need to understand as we go into a deep dive on each one of these elements, so that you can master them and master the insights and the secrets that are in plain view sometimes in terms of how to have a successful relationship, a successful interaction, and a successful dance of romance in your intimate relationship. Therefore also, a successful interaction with others in more interpersonal and professional environments.

The leader and follower are the two positions and roles. In a traditional relationship, it’s the husband and wife. They are usually characterized by a man and a woman. I know that there are different social and cultural structures in terms of what makes up a family unit now. The reason that in this particular example, I refer to traditional roles is because the masculine and feminine also have biological components that do come into play. The biological differences between man and woman are a part of the energy that helped facilitate this dynamic. We will go into that in greater detail in subsequent episodes.

The difference in the hormonal structure of a man and a woman, the energetic dominance of one versus the other, the difference in their anatomical structure that’s governed by their biology and how their endocrine system responds and operates in concert with their reproductive system. All of those things are biological elements that do come into play in this dance. We’re going to make sure that we can understand the fullness of it, understanding that in society and culture, there are different kinds of structures that make up family union in nowadays society and culture. We have the leader and the follower, the man and the woman, the masculine and the feminine dynamic. Those are biological assignments. That’s what we’re talking about here. The reason I say that is because there is a biological and anatomical connection that occurs when a man and a woman come together to create life or to procreate that is the corresponding element to the embrace.

We have two roles and two positions in what we call the couple. In a traditional relationship, there are two roles in the couple. You have man and woman, husband and wife, masculine and feminine energy in the relationship. They each have different roles, but even more importantly, they each have a different design. The literal design of the man and woman dictates that they each have different functions, and because when they operate in those different functions, they take on what we would call different roles. Those things govern it. Even though we make them societal and cultural constructs, those roles arise out of the divine design of the individuals that exist in that relationship.

The third thing is the embrace corresponds with the sexual capacity, the things that connect and bind. Physically, the thing that connects and binds is the biological organs that are used in the reproductive process to procreate life. From a cultural and societal construct, the embrace is the commitment that the two individuals make that connects them so that the principals can operate in their interaction. That’s the corresponding element in the relationship.

The leader and follower are the two elements of the roles like the husband and wife, or the two partners in the relationship. The embrace is the corresponding element in relationship. It is the literal reproductive organs that will allow them to connect with one another, as well as the commitment, the structure that they create as a family unit or as a couple unit that allows the principles to work. The principles are the rules that govern the roles. In the relationship dynamic, in the commitment, there are rules that govern the roles.

22T 1 | Anatomy Of Tango

Anatomy Of Tango: From a cultural and societal construct, the embrace is the commitment that the two individuals make that connects them so that the principals can operate in their interaction.


Keeping in mind that the roles are an outgrowth of the design of the individuals. That’s important because when we get into a function where we can respect and appreciate the different design of the individuals and their different functions, there are different roles, and we understand that those roles, those functions, and that design, even though it may be opposite is equal, complementary and interdependent in nature, we have the foundation for creating harmony in a relationship. When there is an understanding of each mutual and equal respect, mutual and equal value, mutual and equal regard, then both people can operate fully within their function, interdependently and complementary.

That becomes the stage upon which the breathtaking, exotically beautiful, enchanting and magical unfolding of your interaction takes place. People get to see it, then they applaud and say, “Wow.” It’s something that they aspire as well. The environment in Tango is the dance floor. The environment for the couple to exist in a relationship is usually their home. Whatever their home space is, whatever that place is where they move in and around, through and navigate. Within that home, that’s their environment. That home is usually in a neighborhood where there are other family units or couples that exist as well.

The corresponding elements of the dance floor and the other couples on the dance floor in the Tango correspond with the house of the couple, and then the neighborhood or the community where all of these different houses and couples or family units exist. That represents the environment. The key thing is that even though you have your own household, you are still operating within a community. Every community, homeowner’s association, the neighborhood, has rules. The community has rules that govern that even though each couple is its own unit, they all have to operate within in order to move in harmony with one another as a whole.

The couple is the fundamental unit in society because it must exist before the family unit can exist. Click To Tweet

That’s one of the reasons why in medical and social sciences, they say that the family is the building block and building structure of society. I disagree with that, I believe and say that the couple is the fundamental unit of society because out of the couple, when the couple procreates, they create the family, and then the family can become in that perpetual state of procreation its own self-sustaining entity. That’s why I say the couple is the basic fundamental unit in society because it must exist before the family unit exists.

The final thing is the music, rhythm, cadence that governs, guides and gives direction on how the whole moves together. That can be corresponding in the community as usually we’re in a community of like-minded individuals where we have shared values and beliefs. Even though we may be different in our expression, there are some underlying things that we share in terms of values, characteristics and beliefs that unify us. The music represents that unifying force that we all move within, move in rhythm and in cadence as a community or as couples and family units within a community.

Once we start to understand those elements, as we start to dissect and dive in greater details these different elements of the anatomy of Tango, and understand the dance, and play around with the dance, we’ll have a more experiential understanding of the secrets that will show up in the dance. As we play with these different exercises, ideas and insights, and apply them both on and off the dance floor. Feel free to take any of these elements even if you’re a nondancer. Take any of these elements into your living room, into your dining room or any place where you have some space. Play around with those ideas with your partner and with the other people in your life to uncover the ideas and concepts. Once you experienced some of them physically, the a-ha moments that you will have will be mind-blowing and transformational.

22T 1 | Anatomy Of Tango

Anatomy Of Tango: The music represents that unifying force that we all move within. We all move in rhythm and cadence as a community or as couples and family units within a community.


We’ve been talking about the anatomy of the Tango. This is like Tango 101, Tango fundamentals here on the show that will give you the insight, the basic elements and understanding that you need to understand as we navigate this dance of romance, the dance of all of the relationships in your lives. If you want to look at it in greater detail and sit with some of these concepts, be sure to go to www.The22TangoShow.com to see the video and the other elements that are there to give you a more concrete understanding of these different elements that make up the anatomy of a Tango. As we always say on the show. It does not only take two to Tango, but it absolutely takes you to Tango.