At the end of a tanda I asked the Very Experienced Partner about the need for a lead to be decisive without being in the least rough. 'More chest!' was her immediate, clear and memorable reply, without hesitation. 'More chest is never rough!' she added.
She made it sound so straightforward, and yet... It's easy enough for leads to remember, at the start of a tango, to straighten the back and shoulders, breath in and hold the chest forwards, but imperceptibly it all slumps, the initial good contact with the partner deteriorates, and leading can become more awkward. Tango developed among people whose posture was naturally good, who weren't slumped at terminals all day, who walked a lot more than we usually do. Most of us don't have good posture, we tend to be round-shouldered, our heads habitually inclined forwards, our lower backs curved out, as they are when we sit at desks and tables. It can be a submissive, despairing posture.
Good yoga, Pilates or Alexander teachers can help correct this, and get the back straight and the head stacked on top of the vertebrae. It's essentially the body's natural posture, the position in which it works best and is least prone to injury (lower back injury in particular), and it's really the only good starting posture for tango. Or any other kind of dance: if you go to the stage door cafe at London's dance theatre, Sadler's Wells, you'll start to notice two species of human, those who have straight backs with their heads in line, and... well, sadly, the rest of us