Supporting Leg and Free Leg

While dancing, in general, a tango dancer stands on one leg while keeping the other leg free. The leg that receives body weight is called the supporting leg, and the leg that does not receive body weight is called the free leg.

The supporting leg becomes the free leg and the free leg becomes the supporting leg by two events: 1) walking (front, side, and back) and 2) in-place “weight change”.

For example, in walking forward with the right leg, the right leg is the free leg and the left leg is the supporting leg. At the end of this walking step, the right leg becomes the supporting leg and the left leg becomes the free leg. As the new free leg is collected next to the supporting leg, it is important to keep the free leg free – the foot of the free leg may be in contact with the floor, but it should not receive body weight. This free foot/leg should be free and ready to be sent forward/backward/sideways for the next walking step.

If one loses balance after a walking step, the person will begin to fall and may put body weight on both the supporting leg and the free leg to prevent the fall. Once one stands on two legs, it is easy to forget which leg is supposed to be free. While getting back to the one-supporting-leg/one-free-leg position, if the person frees the wrong leg, dance choreography will be messed up. Thus, it is important to be able to maintain balance with each walking step. The same applies to pivot, also.

As for weight change in place, the woman does it according to the man’s marca and the man does it with her knowing it or not. The marca for weight change comes from the man’s upper body to the woman’s upper body, thus the woman’s weight change can be separated from the man’s weight change by the man’s separating his upper body movement from his lower body movement.