Tango Argentino > Open or close embrace to start?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Light Sleeper, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    In my case the close embrace is responsible for my bad posture, as I took the habit of curving the torso backwards (while pushing the elbows forward) to avoid chest contact. My first teachers taught in close embrace from start, but it was too early for me.
  2. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    And of course, deleting one sense, the other sense(s) is heightened. In this case from "seeing" to "feeling". Good one.:cool:
  3. QPO

    QPO New Member

    I am new to Tango also, having done all of seven weeks now. but we were taught that it is the womens call for open or closed embrace, but with a stranger I prefer open, with my partner I do both...some steps I feel better with an open embrace as someone mentioned I feel my partner rounds his shoulders in a close embrace, but I think that may be practice. Our teacher said tonight our connection was good, but that may be because we have had ballroom experience so we having timing under control, just need to get used to the changes in legs and posture.
  4. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I suspect that most of these issues would occur regardless of the embrace. Having beginners dance with other beginners is a very difficult and slow way of learning. You never really know when things go wrong if it is because of something you did wrong, or because of something they did wrong (and even if yo thing you know, the odds are you are wrong then, too).

    The nervousness you are sensing could be due to the embrace, or it could also be due to them being uncertain (either of themselves or the lead). You made a comment about the follower being in your way. Just move/lead with your chest, and bring them along with you.

    In any case, the beginning stage of leading is agony, but it will get better (we've all been there).

  5. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    All so true....and I think one of the hardest things for the new tango leader to learn (regardless of whether they have danced other dances before) is the learning to lead through the torso part, regardless of the type of embrace used.

    So much of it is interconnected...he needs to initiate through the torso so she can feel it and be able to respond so the legs are out of the way and space has been made and none of that can happen without connection. Connection first and foremost, no matter open or closed.

    I will say I think it's easier to "fudge it" in open, there's just so little room for error in close embrace, so in that sense it may be easier to start learning in open...but then you often end up with bad habits becasue you've been "fudging" it that have to be broken one you move to close embrace.
  6. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Let me iterate perspective, if I may.

    Embrace has nothing to do with it. Proper posture and poise, and good technical skills will result in good dance. Waiting until later to teach the things necessary for a close embrace reminds me of a time when a BR teacher trainee quit because the school taught him bronze patterns for 6 months, and then told him that the better/more correct way to dance was silver.

    BS. This has become a status/marketing thing. A more opened embrace is just as real, even in BsAs, as the close.

    Though a real concern, this is cultural. Americans and their space/moral issues. Sheesh. When teahcing that style, I teach a respectful, but close, embrace, and then tell the people in my class to get over it, and if they can't...dance swing.

    This is exactly what I mean in both of the the above.
  7. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    This bears reposting. Great post, d'.

  8. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Yep! And not just an American thing - definitely a (especially Northern) European thing too (the French excluded of course;)). Do you think it could also be that "I don't know this man well enough to get up close to" too. I say that, as I've led beginners in a close embrace and they just seem to melt into my arms with no hint of any discomfort. Beginning women feeling slightly more comfortable being "cuddled" by another woman perhaps. (That said, not all, I had a woman refuse me point blank when I saw her sitting for too long in a class. Me, the spectator, jumped up and offered my hand. She tipped her chin away and in that Lady of the Country Manor way, told me: "I only dance with men". Hmmm. I returned to my spectator's seat and watched her sit for the rest of the class).
  9. Hank

    Hank Member

    It's perfectly valid for others to argue that my reasons for finding close embrace more difficult and more annoying are not the real reasons. But, none of that changes the fact that I do find close embrace more difficult and more annoying. As I look at the expressions of tension and anxiety on the faces of my fellow classmates, I believe that they feel the same way. We are the people who decide whether to continue taking AT lessons or drop out, which half of the class has already done.
  10. Me

    Me New Member

    Nice to see you here Hank. :) I spied and noticed you used to post quite sometime ago. I hope you hang around and let us turn you to the dark side (aka AT). ;)
  11. kieronneedscake

    kieronneedscake New Member

    This is more important than perhaps you realise. Close embrace requires much greater awareness, because lead and follow are smaller more deliberate movements (except walking in a straight line). Being receptive to smaller movements may require you to be relaxed, and not feeling stressed. The right answer to this problem is to get rid of the stress, either by switching to open hold, or by clearing the air of whatever it is that is getting to people. It sounds like the teacher needs to find ways to help people enjoy the lesson.

    In my experience, tango attrition rates in beginner classes are quite high. Within 3 months, only 2/12 remained of my beginner group.
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "But, none of that changes the fact that I do find close embrace more difficult and more annoying. As I look at the expressions of tension and anxiety on the faces of my fellow classmates, I believe that they feel the same way. We are the people who decide whether to continue taking AT lessons or drop out, which half of the class has already done."

    Your reasons, and those of the people who are in, or were in, the class are perfectly valid. I just wanted you to know that at least part of why you find it so difficult might have something to do with how you are being taught.

    You're right, even with good teachers it takes a lot of work to become comfortable.
    I was very, very frustrated. And I had good teacher(s).
    Looking back, and considering the fact that I love a good challenge (of the right kind), it was well worth sticking with it.

    Some people make it look so easy. And it isn't.

    The personal space issue can be overcome, but you have to want to "get over it". I know some people who never have, and seem happy dancing open. And that's ok.

    If you decide to join the people who have decided they have other prioritites, that's ok, too.

    But if you decide to keep plugging away at it, we'll do our best to answer questions about specifics, share experiences, and maybe make you feel like you aren't in it alone.
  13. BlueSkies

    BlueSkies New Member

    Hi Hank,

    Don't worry, I don't think anyone was suggesting that your feelings about your dance experience were somehow incorrect, just that the nature of the teaching / attitude of the teachers may leave something to be desired, and that some of your troubles are more about learning tango than specific to close embrace.

    I'd suggest that the problems you experience are common for people starting close embrace whether or not they've got fairly comfortable with open embrace and tango fundamentals first. Yes, in time those problems will be overcome by better understanding of tango and how to move as a couple but your experience and frustration is totally understandable. I remember feeling much the same way when I started in an open embrace, then again months later when I moved to learning close, and many months later I am still refining how I lead and step, seeking blissful freedom of movement and perfect connection. (I expect that may take a while!)

    If we accept that everyone has such issues, then the question is whether you are being taught in a way that will help you overcome them. I can't judge that, but it seems from the more experienced folk here they think perhaps not. In which case maybe trying another teacher might help.

    Words of encouragement though - having been there in the same frustration, feeling I couldn't move and struggling with the nervousness and tension both in myself and others - you can push through it, and once you do, for me there are few feelings on earth better than a great dance in a great embrace. We see many discussions about open/close - I'll stick with: for some music I love an open embrace, for other music I love a close embrace - I wouldn't want to do without either in my tango life, and any night of the week I'd rather be dancing in any embrace than pretty much anything else.

    It is completely worth pushing through that frustration, in my humble opinion.

  14. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Attrition rates through beginner classes in a lot of things tends to be pretty high, I've noticed throug the years.

    There are just so many reasons people stop doing things, no time, busy schedule, other commitments, lack of interest. Quite a few people are what I call "samplers". So if you end up with about 1/2 of what you started with in a class by the end, that seems to be the way it goes, I've noticed.
  15. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    None of us are against you or belittling your feelings. You must know that. Further, please stick with it; the reward is greater than the challenge. I promise.

    Thanks Kieron and Steve for 2 nice posts (71 and 72).
  16. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Find another teacher if you can. As his name has not be mentioned it's ok to say that he sucks. Even in a perspective of becoming a close-embrace dancer his approach is not good. I know a couple of teachers who introduce close embrace only during the third year (they teach on a four-year cycle) and they produce pupils who at the end of the cycle are comfortable in both styles (and are comfortable with open style after six months and can attend milongas), I know another teacher who teaches apilado from day one and she produces pupils who even after two years not only can't dance with open-embrace dancers but are still struggling when dancing in close-embrace with other pupils of this teacher.
  17. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    This is so far off in so many ways. Firstly, it is ungraciously arrogant to tell someone looking for help, but trying, that their teacher sucks. Suppose there is no one else available. You have just told that dancer to quit.

    Secondly, the so-called close embrace was taught first for generations to an entire country of persons in the birthplace of the dance.

    Now, it seems that your bold statement would be apropos...this teacher sucks. Yet, it is not the fault of apilado; it is the fault of the teacher.
  18. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Extreme as it is, it might be the best solution, when the teacher is bringing the pupil further from the goal with each lesson.

    Wrong. See early AT footage, they're not in close embrace. It's not because it's uncomfortable that it's authentic. Like when a pill tastes bad, it's not necessarily good for the health.

    And the conclusion about Hank's teacher is the same because his approach is the same. I also know another local teacher who favours the apilado style and she introduces apilado only in her intermediate class, after her pupils had one full year of beginner class is open embrace.
  19. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Quite. It is difficult for any beginner to dance in close embrace as there are far more things to correct i.e. leaning back to for (ballroom sylie), knees knocking with each step as a result (1) leader not giving adequate pec signals before he steps or follower reading it too late as well other things. I would start my students off in open embrace - the flour, the butter, the sugar etc and then gradually ease them into the closer hold: icing. And remember: it is you who is stashing money into your teacher's pocket, so do let them know what exactly it is that you are not comfortable with. If you're not happy in close then insist that you dance in open until you are.

    (note to you and others: your teacher needs you more than you need them. If they are not sympathetic towards what you want and understandable of that which makes you feel awkward - then leave them. Passing on one's more knowledge to another is not easy - no matter the subject or topic school, university or studio. It requires a lot of psychology an immense amount of patience and zero ego. Remember: They need you more than you need them. ;)
  20. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Yes but in a country where dancing chest to chest was culturally acceptable. When it arrived at the shores of (esp. northern) Europe a "personal space" law did came into effect often times involving a chastity looking contraption that the woman had to wear, lest her gent step too close into her. I personally have never had a problem with dancing chest to chest with a strange man neither did I ever have a problem sharing a whole back-stage dressing room with a bunch of men where standing around in total nudity was often required to get from one costume to the next...BUT...we're not all the same and teachers should understand and appreciate that. No matter what the history books state.

Share This Page