Tango Argentino > HELP no can do at close embrace

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by aaah, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. aaah

    aaah Member

    Here 2 years of group classes and 3 privates. I can't do close embrace well. :confused:The privates teacher would not do it with me because in her opinion you have to become proficient in open first. Also she said our height difference precluded it.

    When I go to local milongas everyone does closed and I don't fit in at all. :(
    It has been a while since I tried it and it was awful I could not move having a person pasted to me.

    What am I doing wrong here. HELP!

    I think maybe to just bite the bullet and do closed from now on until I get it or I fear I never will?
  2. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    I will be watching this thread for sure. Tango leaders seem to hit a brick wall after
    so many months of trying hard. I know I did and it feels like nothing will work.
    Hopefully, someone can give you the right direction from here. And I hope it isn't 'find a good teacher' , it sounds like you've already had enough of that.
  3. Albanaich

    Albanaich New Member

    Seems more like a cultural issue to do with personal contact rather than a dance issue.

    Is the personal contact a problem?
  4. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    OMG get a new teacher. Since you are saying that close embrace dancing is present at local milongas, somebody certainly is out there teaching it. Hint: ask people whose dancing you like to watch where they have taken lessons.
  5. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Sounds like you haven't found the right teacher(s).
    "Close embrace" with weight sharing works for me. "Close embrace" without weight sharing never worked for me, and still doesn't.
    I started over again with "close embrace", but what we know as apilado, where weight sharing is defining characteristic, after a full year of lessons that had "close embrace" thrown in.
    It pretty much comes down to, you can't make your partner "share weight" with you. There are tricks you can try, but they are just that, tricks.
    For me, I can converse if you want to talk apilado. If you just say "close embrace"....
  6. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    It would seem like you need someone you can relax around in order to work on this... a teacher of more compatible height, friend, etc...
  7. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I am sorry to dissapoint. But a teacher who claims after 2 years of group lessons and some privates her student is not proficient enough to start close embrace? and that the height difference would prevent from it? I have seen teachers who start teaching close right away, and quite successfully so.

    IMO she is just not comfortable teaching him close, for whatever reason ( I may think of a few).
  8. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    Something is missing here: What do all the other students in your group classes/from the same teacher do? I have seen a few tango communities where the open-embrace and the close-embrace milongas were quite segregated, but your teacher should be able to steer you towards a milonga where you fit in. If the only reason you want to do close embrace is to dance at milongas i would first see if there are open embrace milongas - go where your teacher and your fellow students go.

    Some people don't like close embrace - if your teacher strongly prefers open embrace you are probably out of luck if you want to learn that style from her. I then second LotV's idea of asking where all the people in the milongas have learned close embrace from.

    (I personally found that trying to learn different aspects of tango from the people in the community that enjoy them most was a good strategy for me - my dancing is not as deep as it could be if i sticked with one person, but the width really helps making social dancing fun).


    Re. Height difference - the only time when it becomes hard to dance close embrace is if the follower is a head taller than me - and even then the difficulty is mainly that is is hard to navigate as you can't see anything. The easiest solution for that is for me to dance a short zig-zag along the line of dance, i.e. start dancing in 45 degree towards the edge of the dance floor (or away from the dance floor), so you can look to the side to see what is happenign in the line of dance, and after 2 steps either do a turn, or side steps to get back to your starting distance from the edge (looking to the other side to see whats happening there). Actually the 8CB (even with backstep!) works nicely for that: two steps towards the middle of the dancefloor, and then sidesteps and backsteps that get you back to the edge. and the bakcstep is relatively safe, because it goes not against the line of dance, but almost perpendicular to it.
  9. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Hi Aaah

    Yes at first it can seem pretty overwhelming. Most of my local classes are open embrace so it wasnt until I started travelling that I realised how important it is to master close embrace. I remember going down to Devon in 2005 (where it is practically all close embrace dancing) and wondering where it all had gone wrong - what had I been doing for the last 2 years?

    I'm no teacher but here are some things that I have found helpful :
    - Dont get flustered by the physical connection (see other threads) : try and adopt a Zen like calm when you are leading close embrace ...
    - Close embrace forces you to lead from the chest. In open embrace it is possible to lead with a combination of chest and arms. That's much harder in close embrace. So make sure the chest lead is clear. Helpful things are :
    - Stand erect (dont compromise your height)
    - Feel macho (you are your chest!)
    - If you lead a rotation, the chest lead should be small. If your chest is the centre of the circle and the ladies chest is the perimeter, you dont have to rotate very far in order to lead a turn. So work at keeping this small and concise.
    - You must be firmly grounded in close embrace. Work at stepping into the ground and leading from the ground (all the good things that people have spoken about in other threads).
    - Keep movements simple. In close embrace you can concentrate on walking patterns rather than figures. Small is beautiful. Become obsessed with musicality.

    I hope this helps :)
  10. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Yes I agree - it sounds like a bit of a cop out. The ideal height difference for me is 3-5 inches. It's difficult to dance well close with a height difference of 10 inches + - but it is possible ...
  11. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Find a new teacher ASAP!!!
  12. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    My suggestion: try this;
    go to this website;
    read the chapters on embrace and technique. You are familiar enough with the basics to see the worth of this new information. Then, find someone who can work with you on these fine points...someone who
    believes in 'good technique' for close embrace. Please, keep us informed
    of your progress...this thread can go on another 2 years easily.:cool:
    Here's another idea; Go to YouTube, look up the two videos of Tony Fan dancing with Susana Miller
    and watch them...perhaps, you've never seen really hot, satisfying dancing in close embrace.... then, if you can describe what the problem is...I'm sure someone here can help you.
    ...some people are against internet learning (I wonder why?)...I'm not.
  13. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Here's Ampster's 2 cents...

    1. As has been said by the others, find a teacher who knows how to dance close embrace (i.e. apilado, milonguero)
    2. Height is not a problem. If you can get one eyaball over her shoulder, your OK. If you can't do half turns. It's all a matter of adaptation
    3. When first delving into close embrace, concentrate on walking, and synchopating. Forget about the other stuff for now. Add them in when your comfortable with walking in close embrace
    4. Your teacher is not wrong with learning open first theory. When you go into close reduce the size to an eith of what she taught... Only after you learn how to walk in close embrace.

    Here's my personal close embrace epiphany: Going back to basics, Milonguero Style!
  14. ant

    ant Member

    I am about to start learning close embrace and go to different classes. Are the two styles compatable when learning or do you stick to one or the other. If you should stick to one style can anybody suggest which one is the best to start with please?
  15. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    They are very closely related to each other. I interchange them readily depending on whom I dance with. Don't worry about the differences for now. Learn what you can. Close embrace is close embrace, it will evolve and you'll eventually figure it out.

    Tango is a dynamic learning process. Its not a stratified form.
  16. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Yes some teachers prefer to keep it very open. Once, my (private class) teacher just broke the embrace in the middle of a sequence, telling that she would never dance that close in a student-teacher context. And I was in a mere V-shape embrace, no chest contact or anything. Find a teacher who teaches close embrace if that's what you want to learn. And when in a milonga, what you can do is getting a bit closer each time. After a few weeks your right hand will be on the lady's, right shoulderblade instead of her left.
  17. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Well that's just weird - and vaguely "unprofessional". Get another teacher ;)
  18. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I agree with Cap Jep but have added a few things
    I had a similar experience. my close embrace started to develop when I learned milonga (I have Alex Krebs to thank for that!)
    Dont be discouraged because you are finding it difficult. I have seen some unlikely people become adept at close embrace (including myself). Be patient and gentle with yourself but keep practicing.
    If you are taller than the follower you need to think about leading from your solar plexus- ie a lower centre of gravity. Oscar whassisname illustrates this on youtube. there's a link somewhere....

    an exercise to help this is get someone your own size preferably a (heavy) man put his hands on the top of your hip bones and get him to resist forwards and downwards as you walk. All your steps then have to come out of the ground in order to move. In my experience it is one of the most successful ways to instil groundedness though for turns you just have to practice.

    Start working on parts of steps; imagine a step is made of four parts which you can dance. This is what cut steps are. Also you need to make small clear impulses with your body to help these work; try stiffeneing up your hips for sharper faster beats/movements and soften your hips for regular beats.

    I too hope this helps
  19. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Your teacher is not entirely wrong (or right). It depends. If I see that a student is still struggling to get the connection in the open then I have them remain in the open until they do. I then "talk" them into a close as they dance - step by step.

    First up: if you view your dancing as being "wrong" then "wrong" your dancing shall remain in your head and thus will not progress. But you will. In time. There isn't anything wrong about dancing in the open embrace - it's merely that you are "yet" to accomplish dancing in close embrace. And, and, and... when dancing in the close frame you should not be "pasted" together with your partner neither are you glued or holding each other tight. Worry not about feeling "out of place". Believe me, the other dancers are too busy focussing on themselves and their partners and if you lead a wonderful open dance it will be so much better for most followers who love the chance to show off their decorations. In class: practice with a follower first in the open and then slowly, slowly start to pull her towards you. Stop. Halfway. Again. And stop. Repeat this until you are both now walking in close. (Yep, just practice walking at this point). Note: if she is following correctly in the apilado (embrace) that is: leaning into you as opposed to merely being pressed up against you - the groins DON'T touch - then this should feel okay. Also, her arm shouldn't be draped heavily across your shoulder (this can feel suffocating) but rather the palm of her hand ought to be flat against the middle of your back or - as I do - her hand gently resting against your right arm.

    Happy dancing.


    p.s. I was never taught the close embrace. As a Follower I was dragged into it. As a Leader I taught myself.
  20. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Yes, you're right. "Find a New Teacher" always seems to be the advice. Truthfully, tradesman shouldn't always blame his tools. If the tool is broken, yes, chaneg it but more often than not it is the tradesman. Guys are naturally competitive and I see and and hear and read a whole lot of beating up oneself up going on. Which only leads to frustration in the extreme. Just enjoy the challenge and the rest will follow... ;)

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