Tango Argentino > first signal of closed embrace

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by olamalam, Jan 2, 2017.

  1. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    Dear all,

    Last weekend I've done my first Tango festival!
    As a 2 month old tango dancer, I've done beginner classes. and the hardest thing in the class was stepping forward on closed embrace. saturday and sunday I've taken the same class from 2 different instructors. As you might guess, each instructor has their own style.

    first one said, my body stays "off balance" and my partner balances my body with her "off balance" in the middle. And in that position I push her with my chest before I start stepping forward. When I practiced this, I had 2 issues:
    1- I felt like I'm going to fall down on my partner and she has to catch me.
    2- my steps were looking ugly

    second one said, my body stays "off balance" and my partner balances my body with her "off balance" in the middle. But before I start stepping forward, I have to get my posture to straight position by bending the knees. then walk forwards.

    Which one do you prefer?

  2. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    You shouldn't do close embrace until you get ok with open embrace.
    There will be purist yelling now, that only the close embrace should be practiced.

    You should be always in balance and never be supported by your partner.
    When you make a hint forward (and still in balance) your partner should do small projection of a step.
    Then you make a step. If you don't feel projection you are not making a step.

    I don't get the second part of your post.

    You are always on balls of your feet and leaned a little bit forward.
    I don't get how you would be forward/straight/forward/straight.
    Are you sure that you are dancing tango?
    opendoor likes this.
  3. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    Neither. You and your partner should never be off balance. Both of you need to lean forward a bit but not to the point of imbalance.
    As far as you knees, they should not be bent but rather not locked. Something in between.
    olamalam and Mladenac like this.
  4. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Both are wrong but maybe the first one a little less so.
    opendoor likes this.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    IMO, tango is more about possibilities and preferences, rather than simply right or wrong. My opinion is that what you've been told to do is: 1) Rather difficult for someone just starting out, and 2) Not something that is very common (unless I've misunderstood what your teacher was really trying to say).

    My advise (for now), is to go for with light pressure on each other (not so much that loosing balance is a serious concern). Two reasons are that, this is much more common (you'll have more people to dance with in this style), and it will help encourage the correct body mechanics (it's easy to get away with poor leading and body mechanics in open embrace, that then are more difficult to fix when going to close embrace).

    IMO, it's imperative that the leader be stable and balanced (some may call this, being grounded). Also, the key components to leading well, are clarity (the follower understands what you are asking her to do), and comfort (your leading, and movements in general, need to be comfortable or enjoyable for the follower).

    The real challenge that leaders have to deal with, is that what's clear and comfortable can be very different, for different followers. When a teacher says, "this is what all followers want", translate it to, "this is what that teacher likes", as all followers did not come out of the same factory, and thus, do not want the same thing, (any more than all leaders want the same thing).

    As your experience grows, I think it's good to study different styles, as it then increases the number of people that you can have a good with. However, in the beginning, I think it's best to stick to things that are most commonly done.
    Tango Distance, vit and sixela like this.
  6. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

    I'll agree with the others: to dance close embrace does not mean you dance off balance. That may have been an idiom used to avoid you being on-balance but with the centre of gravity too far from the partner. Usually to have a good contact in close embrace, you need the weight over the balls of your feet or between the balls and the toes _and_ a correct posture (in other words, you need to have moved your centre of gravity forward by tilting forward as a whole).

    If indeed you both have your weight over your heels, it's going to be difficult to connect at the core directly (i.e. if you make it work, you'll be in "close open embrace" rather than what most people would call close embrace). Unless you gain _a lot_ of weight and develop a milonguero belly worthy of Pepito Avellaneda (workin' on it).

    But you certainly don't need to take it so far that you fall over if your partner steps away (that's used in some figures like e.g. volcadas, but even though some performance dancers _do_ exaggerate close embrace in such a way even when walking, few dancers will dance this way socially. I suggest you look at the video of Ricardo Vidort that JohnEm posted in the videos section).

    As for the knees, that _is_ largely a stylistic preference. Some people like to stay level during most of their dance, and to do so you need to slightly bend the knees when you have both feet together in order not to bob up a little (there's no way to make cos(0) be the same as cos(alpha) with alpha in ]0,pi/2[° ;-) ).

    Others like to have a bit of a bobbing motion during the step, and so they'll bend the knees less (though they should never be locked). And then others yet may bob up and down at the end of a step but always bend the knees slightly just before stepping when they prepare to step and then stay level for the rest of their steps.

    It may even be different with different partners, but sometimes in a bizarrely counterintuitive fashion. The more you bend knees when your feet are together, the more a natural stride with fully extended leg will be long (if you want to make BIG steps then you'll have no choice but to bend your knees, unless you want to keel over into a step!) Which, paradoxically, means that to adapt your stride length to that of someone longer you actually may have to go _lower_.

    °I have never tried pi/2, i.e. stepping to do the splits. I don't plan to, actually.
  7. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Before you start taking lessons and workshops you should learn tangoing just by practicing on the dance floor, this before hand. After half a year or so the moment for close embrace will naturally come. By the way, I found it awful, the first time.

    Close embrace isn't just one style, it's 4, may be more. All these close embrace styles are as different as could be. As Mladenac already said, you have to practice open embrace first. Both workshop were on close embrace in a shared axis. So what Mladenac meant was to practice dancing on your own axis first.
    olamalam likes this.
  8. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    Every movement starts with bringing the knee of the supporting leg forward.
    RiseNFall likes this.
  9. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    So you hopefully have some imagination what looks well.

    But before you can walk in whatever embrace you should be able to stand well.
    Standing on one leg, "grounded", so the weight a bit forward and balanced - no steady compensating motion in your ankle.
    Exercise that daily while brushing your teeth - make videos of that for your eyes only - does it look well?
    Given that: do a step and stop "grounded" - how looks that? Can you change something to make it look well?
    If not ... ask a teacher! :cool:
  10. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Sounds like a basic instruction for self-defence - if you would use the free leg. :nurse:
    But what does it mean for the rest of the body to bring the knee of the supporting leg forward?
  11. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think you are asking the wrong question here.

    Especially as a beginner i would be very careful about trying to reconcile different teachers approaches, and asking this forum about what technique we prefer. There are several different styles of tango, and they have more or less compatible underlying biomechanics and approaches. Think of it like BBQ - some use vinegar, some only a dry rub, some dill-pickles. None of this is wrong or right per se, but different cooks will use different approaches, and then everything, from the sides to the drinks, will be subtly influenced by this. Especially at the beginning i would try to get a solid grounding in one approach, and the work from there. There is no unified one tango, with differences in the flavour and interpretation, but there are several tangos, and it is not just the frosting that is different, but the cake, too.

    When you go to a festival or take workshops being aware if the teachers there are compatible with your home teacher or not will save you a lot of confusion. Once there is a firm understanding of how different people think different things work looking for other perspectives is useful (or maybe even essential), but at 2 months you are probably not there yet.

    (And to be contradictory: I personally don't think that practicing open embrace has much to offer for ones close embrace tango ;) )
    sixela and Mladenac like this.
  12. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    But what is the risk of not being very careful about that?
    One can optimize e.g. the time elapsed, time invested or money invested for getting a proficient tango dancer.
    I preferred to optimize the time elapsed and wasted some other resources. The advantage was the feeling to be one of the best in the comparable crowd.
    Long term damages reported by tangueras - none. ;)
  13. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    If you learn tango dancing separated from your partner, you'll spend years memorizing step sequences. These teachers are happy their students continue classes and become good step collectors. The result is memorized choreography on the dance floor, not social dancing.

    If you learn how to embrace the way the older milongueros do in the milongas of Buenos Aires, tango is easier. You give the lead in subtle signals with your body to the woman. You are connected with her and the music. That's tango.

    After two months of classes with the late milonguero viejo Ricardo Vidort, he told his students to go and practice and find their own dance. He gave them all they needed to know.
    Gssh, itwillhappen and opendoor like this.
  14. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I think the risk is getting less enjoyment out of the dance when the search for ones own tango becomes more lonely, and one has to embrace ones own tango wholeheartedly, somewhere between 5-10 years in.

    This is going to be repetitive for most people here, but the way i understand the dance at the moment is that there dozens of different tangos - e.g there are a few different basic geometric settings - do we dance into each other, away from each other or neutral to each other; are we parallel or at an angle; are we centered or offset to the left or right, and are we offset by one, two, or three tracks. Almost everybody uses some, or even most of these configurations.

    I don't think it is neccessary to be too analytical about it, but i think having ones own tango means, at least in part, either explicitly or implicitly, embracing one of these configurations as ones default style at the moment, and accepting with this that some things will be easier, some will be more difficult, and some will require moving out of that framework.

    I think not having the experience of having one "default setting", and how it shapes all aspects of ones dance makes it paradoxically more difficult to switch and experiment with styles, because it sometimes confounds biomechanics, style, and figure. Being able to dance half a dozen different ocho cortados, and knowing why and how they are different from each other, and how and why they work for some partners and not others is something that i feel has helped me in finding the ocho cortado that is "mine", and accepting that i can't always dance it.
  15. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Not only do I agree, but I think starting in open can cause more problems when finally going to close embrace.
  16. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    I agree with this but some people say closed embrace is the real tango, some people say nobody dances in open embrace in milongas etc. On the other hand, all beginner classes in the festival (sultans of istanbul) was in closed embrace. I didnt have many option.

    I agree with this actually. I guess both me and my partner misunderstood what instructor said.

  17. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    Yes this is something I should achieve but I need more practice now. At the moment my class/socialDance ratio is in favor of class. I think I have enough materials to work on on the dance floor.

    This is so true. Yesterday an instructor told me to put my right hand under my partners armpit on open embrace :confused: He told me he can have better control on her body with that kind of hold.
    When I went back home and tried this with my wife, even she felt uncomfortable :)
  18. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    The trick is, to pull something useful even from strange sounding hints. It nearby to change the embrace to put your hand on the side of her shoulder blade or deltoid.
    And there are some situations where it is comfortable for a follower that the leader takes control. E.g. if you intend to do quick sidesteps it helps her a lot if you tense your frame a bit and induce your signals a tick ahead directly into her body.
  19. JTh

    JTh Member

    I never got the connection in an open embrace like I do in the closed one.
    Open is just too mechanical and clinical for me. Tango is about feelings and this for me does not come out in open vs closed...Yes, there may be advantages as a beginner in open embrace eg lessens risk of stepping on partners foot...but the enjoyment factor is much less I found and also the connection is to a lesser degree than the closed embrace.
    Closed, in my experience, is tougher..but also more rewarding.
    Balance maybe tougher in closed, but it is definitely attainable with practice. Don't need to do open first before closed to achieve balance...but it may be easier to start with open.
  20. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    I have to embrace what, why and how long? :pomp:
    No, I never felt alone since starting with embracing of tangueras in the first lesson.
    The teachers - the first year there have been three couples for a month or more and a dozen of others - have been experienced people giving lots of hints and ideas. Some worked well for me and my own tango, some not.

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