Yes, tango is “more difficult” for the leaders than for the followers, at first. But the journey of the follower dancer is paved with its own hardships: the following technique is precise and requires a long training. Here are the three main skills a follower will have to develop throughout her/his tango journey.
It’s the first thing a follower needs to focus on. If she is not able to keep her own axis during the turning figures (ochos, giros…), or is not light while walking, she will soon run out of partners: It is incredibly difficult for a leader to compensate for his partner’s lack of axis – not to mention painful. Axis is also important for the follower to find the joy of decorating freely, and thus express herself musically.
After a few years of dancing, the follower is often invited by more experienced dancers, who suddenly take her to the next league: where tango is all about freedom and pushing boundaries. Then, she is led steps that she doesn’t know, invented on the moment by her partner. That’s when extreme precision in her following becomes crucial, in terms of size and dynamics of steps, musicality, pausing…
That’s the Holy Grail of following: knowing how to completely follow while still being present and expressing yourself in the embrace. There’s no presence without Axis and Precision, but it goes beyond those two skills. Look at Virginia Pandolfi, for example, or Jimena Hoeffner. There is so much personality in their dancing that they are recognizable among thousands. Developing this skill is why I personally love being a follower.
It’s interesting how what is considered ‘the easy role’ is full of exciting challenges!