I have been asked by a colleague about tango dancing and lordosis…The following is my response based on my experience with tango and Structural Integration.
I refer to the follower as a woman and the leader as a man solely for the purpose of easy clarification.
The posture of the close embrace involves a slight “lean” of each dancer (leader and follower) to create an inverted “V” shape. There are many variations of the close embrace such as the follower turning slightly towards her parter (as if turned toward his heart). In some steps the angle of the lean can increase dramatically when the follower is taken what is known as “off her axis” and her weight is supported more on the leader. In this position (in a “volcada” or a deep lean) it is easy to collapse and shorten the midback. It is particularly easy to do so when the leader’s back arm (across her back) is too tight and she feels pulls or pushed into her partner. In this position, the follower is less responsible for her axis and may feel less in control of her body. This is an important time to make sure the core is engaged. When the follower comes out of the lean to a more upright position, she must then adjust her body accordingly. The adjustments are subtle and important and they are what makes the dance more challenging for advanced dancers. The more a dancer is able to make the subtle adjustments necessary to accommodate the flow of the dance (including the relationship with the partner), the more comfortable and complex the experience becomes.
A wonderful challenge to prevent a habit of lordosis occurring is to try switching the embrace from close to open. It is common right now to see the embrace go from open to close and vice versa, many times during a tanda (song). Dancing open style does not invite a shortening of the lower back and it offers more variations (more empowering ones, in my opinion) for the follower. I had a tango teacher who used to tell me to “keep my back back” which were the same words my Alexander Technique teacher used to say. Walking (or dancing) backwards encourages the spine to stay posterior- it is up to the dancer to keep her tailbone weighted.
If, in session six (of a classic Structural Integration series)  I am working with an anteriorly rotated pelvis I will talk about the tailbone dropping (“let your coccyx drop like a jewel in honey” was a cue I have written in my early notes) without it tucking under. I like the image of the dinosaur’s tail reminding me to stay weighted through my tailbone. As I walk backwards and allow my tailbone to lengthen (rather than “flip up”) I can feel my psoas working, my walk feels more elegant and I can readily change directions. Try walking slowly backward and then “suddenly” forward with a swayed lower back. It is difficult. The follower’s body must be ready to respond to the leader’s invitation to pivot, change directions, pause, or do more complicated steps; a lumbar lordosis puts her at a disadvantage.
So far we are talking about a shortening of the lumbar spine; the lengthening needs to extend to the top of the head. If the pelvis is rotated anteriorly as in the scenario we have been discussing, the upper body will balance by leaning back. Not only will the follower be straining the back of her neck but she will have the appearance of trying to pull away from her partner- not a good look. The challenge and discussion of “finding the top of the head” is a good one here 😉
The high heeled tango shoes…I can’t really say much about them except that I love them for reasons that are not health related. I had a beautiful pair of 9cm purple satin stilettos that I had cork glued into the front part of the sole. When I’m not dancing I also take off my shoes and stretch. I practice in socks and dance sneakers. What we do for the love of tango…;-)