A tanguero without solid technique has no floor on which to release his or her emotions.
I know there are people who claim that tango is all about emotion, not technique. I continue to disagree. A lifetime of dance tells me that the ability to fully express yourself is based on a foundation of solid technique. We build up the muscle memory so that in the milonga we can forget about it and just dance. But the technique is still there.
I can be happy with the simplest movements, executed with the utmost grace. Walking can be sublime. And I noticed two strengths I need to walk nicely: abdominal strength and foot/ankle strength. Of course, there are many ways to gain this strength. If you want to strengthen your feet, check out Jennifer Bratt’s foot exercises. If you want to strengthen your abs, do some crunches. Or hang out in plank position.
Then, while you are walking, think of keeping your abs engaged (not sucking in your stomach, just flexed and firm). Keep your hips relaxed—don’t let your abs pull your free hip up. As you step, control your foot at the ankle. Use that ankle strength to roll through your entire foot—whether stepping forward or backward. I believe that (1) keeping your torso lifted while (2) controlling your foot will go a long way toward a nice, smooth walk.
Not that those are the only elements you need. They are just thing I have been paying attention to. There’s also the issue of not bouncing up and down. And arriving right on top of your foot, balanced, whenever you transfer weight. It helps if you actually push off the floor with your foot when you step. One of my favorite exercises is based on that idea. Maybe that will be the first thing I share, as soon as I can convince someone to hold the camera for me.
Until then, happy walking!