Does heel height matter for tango?

An Argentine teacher was asked during a tango class, “does heel height matter for tango?”  She answered, “no, it doesn’t.” 

I know that many women use comfortable practice shoes during tango classes, and then change into their heels when they dance in a milonga.  The problem is that our posture and our dance change depending on the shoes we are wearing.  Those who teach often wear flat shoes so they aren’t presenting the best example of their dancing.  Let’s face it, the female leg is more attractive wearing a high heel than in a sneaker.

Many women find it challenging to dance wearing high-heeled shoes because they aren’t accustomed to wearing them for anything except tango.  It takes practice to reach the point where one no longer pays any attention to the feet while dancing, let alone dealing with the  feeling of stilettos.  I hear women say that they have balance problems, so they avoid wearing high heels.  We don’t dance tango alone, ladies.

The best way to gain balance for wearing stilettos is strengthening the foot muscles with daily  exercises from the ballet barre.  These can be done at the kitchen sink or in front of a wall for support.  Place your fingertips on a flat surface that is waist-high or stand in front of a wall placing your hands on it. It’s best to do this exercise in bare feet, and it takes no more than a minute.  Standing with your heels together and feet in a very small V position, lift your heels up as high as you can, hold the position a couple of seconds, and then slowly lower the heels onto the floor.  Begin doing this simple exercise 20 times a day, working up to 40 repetitions.  This will strengthen your feet for better balance and for wearing those four-inch heels that are gathering dust in your closet.

I’ve listened to women say they can’t wear anything higher than a two-inch heel.  That’s because they haven’t found a shoe that fits well.  Any shoe that isn’t a good fit will be uncomfortable at some point while dancing.  The key is finding a shoe that fits your foot for dancing.  I saw a women the other day wearing two-inch heels who lifted her heels another inch while she danced at a milonga.  She is a candidate for a higher heel.  She didn’t know that tango is danced with the heels on the floor.   A higher heel puts our weight forward and makes all those pivots and turns easier.

You don’t have to be able to walk in your stilettos on the street, only get from your seat to the edge of the dance floor.  After that, your partner takes care of you.

So, does heel height matter in tango?  I say, it does.  That’s why I do the relevé exercises so I can wear four-inch heels to the milonga; I even dance Chacarera and Salsa in them.  It took time to be comfortable in them, and now I can no longer dance tango in low-heeled shoes.


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