Tango Argentino > Close embrace

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Shaka, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Leading them, being a leader.

    Well, yes. That's Tango, I believe. :) Unfortunately "simple" <> "easy", at least for me.

    Yes, I think that's how I understand it also. But "understanding the concept" <> "being able to lead it well".
  2. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    As I've said earlier, the dance we're getting is the product of the modern age.
    My teachers said otherwise, that we both have to willingly enter the embrace.
    One of my friends, and a regular dance partner, says quite bluntly that
    if you aren't willing to fully enter the embrace you shouldn't be doing tango.

    Your teachers are trying to accommodate natural reticence in order to avoid
    the consequences of the close embrace putting off pupils. The teacher should
    be trying to find ways of acclimatising people to the embrace. At this point
    jantango is liable to leap in with the counter view that it's the woman's role
    to adjust to the man.

    Someone has to lead in a partner dance and
    that's the man's role from the very start.

    You're a ballroom dancer, arm leads are what you know
    and what you're comfortable with. Your tango development needs to start
    from changing the connection and ceasing using your arms as antennae.

    I know there are teachers teaching toned arms and I don't dance with their
    pupils. It comes from show dancing and/or ballroom influences. Good tango
    teachers, even teaching an open style, teach a visual chest connection.
    And you can practise with no arms involved at all.
  3. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    That's probably true. One class I attend regularly has the majority of its members attending as couples, and they won't rotate. There seems little point in the teacher driving them away by making them (the teacher has a living to earn, after all!), but it isn't much of an introduction to social dancing.

    I would prefer to say that I'm a dancer who dances in a wide variety of styles. Ballroom has not been the focus of my personal development for some time.

    Good grief no! I spend much of my teaching time trying to get my pupils to stop using their arms in that way. It isn't good Ballroom style (never was and isn't ever going to be) and it's right off my agenda. We often practise with no hold at all and rely entirely on connection in the lower torso - not the same as tango, of course, but the principle is much closer than most ex-ballroom dancers would choose to acknowledge.

    My reference to using arms in open embrace as 'antenae' comes 100% from the tango world, and I have also heard said by more than one tango teacher that the fixed stare at the leaders chest is a prop for beginners, and as soon as followers learn to stop doing it, the better. But then, anything anyone says in tango will be contradicted by someone else, so I'm learning not to take a lot of notice, except to try things for myself, and work out what works for me and those with whom I dance.
  4. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Any suggestions?
  5. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    OK I think I understand, but maybe not. Here's my understanding then.

    Ballroom has a frame and an arm and shoulder line that shouldn't be broken.
    The lead is from the movement of the torso but it is nevertheless amplified
    (your term I think) by the arms. Without the rigidity of the arms a whisk lead
    probably wouldn't work and the change to promenade involves something
    from the arms or hand. But there is no arm paddling as you might see
    in Tango Nuevo.

    I'll leave it there just as clarification as this is AT not ballroom.
    Don't know about a fixed stare but that visual connection augments the arms.
    It's irrelevant if the men are taught arm leads rather than chest first and the
    practising without arms makes the men really work on leading with the body.
    How true. It is best in the long term to work it out for yourself.
    It's your dance, not teacher's.
  6. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Yes of course: Shut up and get on with it!

    In my earlier tango days learning fantasia/modern/choreographed tango
    (then I knew no better) an experienced dancer helping out wanted me
    to be the man while he showed the lady's steps. Seeing my reticence,
    his retort was "Just get on with it". I just did!

    Joking aside, with no teaching aspirations I don't have any suggestions
    other than a gradual acclimatisation and encouragement.

    No-one said Tango is easy and I'm sure that teaching it isn't either.
    But I do think it is being made unnecessarily more difficult for teachers,
    pupils and dancers having such a diversity of views and resultant styles.
  7. shutterbox

    shutterbox New Member

    Hm...I've heard a greek follower who lives in BA use the term swivel. Perhaps its just different vocab for different languages?

    Just like the term open embrace doesnt make sense in my dance community.
  8. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Yes, the brute force method has much to commend it from the point of view of economy of effort, but I suspect that the handful that then returned to the second class would be too few in number to cover the rent on the hall.

    I don't pretend to know an answer either, but I'd be interested if any teacher wants to share how they do it (successfully).
  9. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's a language thing, but while swivel is clearly used (but perhaps not commonly) in tango as an equivalent or alternative to pivot, pivoting in the world outside tango means something distinctively different. It's a shame (and I put it no more strongly, and I'm not picking an arguement with anyone) that dance (in the widest sense) can't share a common vocabulary for similar actions.

    As for open embrace, this too is easily misunderstood by those who come, particularly, from a Latin background. My teaching society uses the expressions 'Close Embrace' and 'Very Close Embrace', which is, perhaps preferable, but is still rather awkward language.
  10. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    For teaching? Simply say exactly that - in traditional, it's a close-embrace dance, get used to it. I find it's helpful if I occasionally demonstrate the follower part in close embrace with a man, that seems to break down barriers.

    Failing that, group hugs :)
  11. Madahlia

    Madahlia Member

    I have experienced it being taught by group hugs! It helped. A bit.

    It also helps to have it recognised that it's hard, it requires work and that it doesn't just magically come right without thought and effort.
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    My opinion is that this is one of those "local" codes. Some places/teachers say the man sets the embrace, some say the woman sets it, and some say it's a collaboration. Obviously, if I feel the woman resisting close embrace, I'm not going to pressure her into it.

    My thoughts on how to encourage close embrace in classes are:
    1) In the course description, state that it will be close embrace.
    2) At the first class, when teaching how to embrace, have people take turns hugging each other. I found this to be helpful when I was first starting out.

    At milongas, just go for it, but if the partner resists, then just accommodate them. Sometimes this sparks a conversation with the follower. She may say something like, I'm not used to (or not experienced with) close embrace. To which I typically say, I find it to be much easier for the lead and follow. We can give it a try and if it doesn't work out, we can always open up the embrace.
  13. LoveTango

    LoveTango Member

    I can't help it, but feel sorry for your partner. ;)
  14. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    You may very well be right about that. Certainly my tango has never travelled above 25 miles from home, to date, so I have no wider perspective. The only contributor, here, who I know shares my local scene (more or less) is Bordertangoman (I've seen him on FB as a friend of a friend). If he happens to see this, and would like to comment on the Midlands' norm, I'd be interested in his view.
  15. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    I learned and taught in my ballroom dancing days that it's the woman's decision how close to dance with a partner. Allowing the same practice at your local tango dance, all need to observe the dancing and decide which dancers would be comfortable and compatible with your dancing. A man who wants separation is in for a shock from a woman who presses her body close to his. It is not unusual for dancers at milongas in BsAs to watch the dancing for an hour or more before beginning to dance. Compatibility (height, size, style) is important in tango.

    As you progress and bridge the gap in the embrace, you and your partners will find it easier to feel everything that is going on between the two of you. It's the only way for two to become one.
  16. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    I have no issue at all with the points made on positions/lead/follow. Soley for UKD's sake, however, as a newer dancer, it should be noted that chest-to-chest lead was not originally intended to mean an actual mashing of these body parts throughout the dance. It simply meant center. At his stage of learning, it could be very helpful.

    Neither do I seek to get into vocabularies, the translations of words, and/or the differences in meanings of these terms as they transcend cultures. As a linguist, we can do that later. What I meant was that there is a minute rotation of the feet in most cases during the molinete. It has been/is seen danced flat-footedly, that is to say, by simply placing the foot, but it is not as comfortable. The lady is dancing around the man. To dance a circle without some sort of rotation of the feet would result in an awkward positioning of the legs.

    Again, let me stress that I am not contesting anything that has been written. My points were just that, to a beginning dancer (or, seemingly for UDK's clarity), some of the post/s maight have been a wee confusing.

    1- Some of what we get is the product of the modern age. As Jan constantly touts loudly at every opportunity, what she gets is from the earlier/more authntic age. Mch of what I received in my earlier studies was, as well. Having said that, I believe that I understand what you mean... that the dance has simply evolved, and what we dacne today is a product of that evolution.

    2- As UDK mentioned, and I am ecstatic to hear it, good ballroom is not arm controlled either. The rigidity, as you put it, of the topline is for aesthetics and movement, and its only role in leading/following is the accommodation of said movement. When I learned, we had to dance with 33rpm records held between us by our bodies, and without an arm/hand hold. And, yes, we had to pay for every one that dropped and broke. :)
  17. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    So as not to misunderstand, are you saying that that was an historical position, because my (limited) experience of very close embrace is actual contact at the level of the upper chest (so depending on the lady's 'build', often nipple to nipple too). It doesn't bother me. I got used to the BR feeling of having a woman virtually sitting in my crotch a long time ago - boobs are much less, well ... ;)

    As I mentioned before, I think I slightly prefer a more open embrace, mainly to limit the information received, the better to tune into it.
  18. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    It is not. The distance/closeness is part of the leading. Move to the right. Stop. Come closer. Now backwards. Again. Cross. Take one step forward. Loosen the embrace. Make a front boleo. Pivot and move backwards. Backwards again. Come closer.
    Btw, as a leader who likes to change the closeness a lot within a song, I am very often annoyed by followers who keep staying glued once they're in close embrace, while the opposite (the follower who stays at range) is a rarity.
  19. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Blimey! Don't we all have so many different ideas and preferences.
    But annoyed?
  20. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    I don't know where you get that from as I suspect any intention in the
    evolution of tango was entirely unintentional. It is true it shouldn't
    be a clamp but that is entirely my opinion and some of my partners
    I know from experience have experienced my clamping which itself
    was entirely unintentional. You have to learn to be toned and relaxed.

    Leaving aside that my lack of swivel point was about back crossing ochos
    not molinettes, Christine Denniston talks about the foot always pointing
    at the man's heart in the molinette. In that case the weight bearing foot
    must rotate naturally as the foot is in place while the couple are turning.

    UKD keeps dragging us down a path of pedantic technical comparison with ballroom.
    Ballroom is written down, standardised and codified, much of tango is
    evolution and personal experience.

    I'm not going to argue the the ideal ballroom hold - my ballroom is from
    social learning and dancing not a professional or teaching viewpoint. You
    are right about the arms but they are there, ballroom people do talk about
    maintaining a frame and the top line, and the frame does get used. To
    "amplify" the lead as UKD puts it about his tango.

    It is odd that UKD is insisting that ballroom doesn't use the arms,
    when in comparison to tango it has a much more rigid arm frame,
    and yet when he comes to tango, which is usually taught without
    an arm frame and is lead from the centre, he is insisting he uses his arms.
    From his writing he should be an expert in leading from the body whereas
    coming from ballroom I found I had much to learn for successful tango.

    We can only write from our own experience.

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