Open or close embrace to start?

bordertangoman

Well-Known Member
#81
aside from issues of feeling comfortable in close embrace, i think its technically more difficult. I had never had problems with the actual contact as I'd done other stuff before; but being grounded was something that took time to learn.

I learnt tango in an open embrace then started close-embrace when I was learning to dance milonga. I prefer teaching open with little introductions to close embrace as we go along. Otherwise there is too much for the leaders to cope with, in my view. But I know teachers who are successful in starting with close embrace. For those who make the transition I understand that its harder going form close to open but I have only what other people have told me.

I would talk to your teacher and say you are finding this difficult and are there other ways he can help you collectively as a class. Sometimes the problem can be one of commuinication. There are things I can do as a dancer that I find difficult to teach because I've learnt them intuitively; so I have to take step back and actually analyse what I'm doing in order to break it down. If you don't talk to him he doesn't have an opportunity to improve his teaching. I always watch how other teachers convey learning tango; and there are many ways to skin a cat.
 
#82
aside from issues of feeling comfortable in close embrace, i think its technically more difficult. I had never had problems with the actual contact as I'd done other stuff before; but being grounded was something that took time to learn.

I learnt tango in an open embrace then started close-embrace when I was learning to dance milonga. I prefer teaching open with little introductions to close embrace as we go along. Otherwise there is too much for the leaders to cope with, in my view. But I know teachers who are successful in starting with close embrace. For those who make the transition I understand that its harder going form close to open but I have only what other people have told me.

I would talk to your teacher and say you are finding this difficult and are there other ways he can help you collectively as a class. Sometimes the problem can be one of commuinication. There are things I can do as a dancer that I find difficult to teach because I've learnt them intuitively; so I have to take step back and actually analyse what I'm doing in order to break it down. If you don't talk to him he doesn't have an opportunity to improve his teaching. I always watch how other teachers convey learning tango; and there are many ways to skin a cat.
Excellent! And in total agreement (at last eh...:D). I recently ended a 12-week stint with a begining couple whom I was teaching at their home. Around the 8th week I started to introduce close embrace. As they danced I would be slowly encircling the as I studied their posture, the feet, shoulders, his signal, her response. Then I slowly took her hand gently slid it up and across his shoulders, I went behind her and gently took his hand and slid it further her back. I continued to stay behind her and motioned with hands for him to step closer, I whispered in her ear to "close your eyes". They danced beautifully and there were no problems. When the song ended they were still in each other's arms. And so yes, there are many, many ways to skin a cat..but Teacher has to remember when removing the skin, to remove it slowly so not to upset said cat.:kitty:
 
#83
Excellent! And in total agreement (at last eh...:D). I recently ended a 12-week stint with a begining couple whom I was teaching at their home. Around the 8th week I started to introduce close embrace.
That said, of course. Working on a 1-2-1 or 1-2-2 level is more intense yet personal and so easier to guage the progress of your student and determine what it is they can and cannot do compared to that of a class with heavier numbers.
 
#84
I am a beginner leader, and I cannot lead open for the life of me :( Although leading in close embrace is going rather well so far.
But I am a somewhat experienced follower, and a female. :)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#85
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.

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.
Thanks Bastet... you wrote my post for me!

I'm a firm proponent of working in close embrace sooner rather than later. In fact, from the beginning if at all possible.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#87
. But, none of that changes the fact that I do find close embrace more difficult and more annoying..
The simple truth is that close embrace IS more difficult. You can't "cheat" certain things. You have to have really good technique. There's less wiggle room (figuratively & literally) for doing things improperly. So in some ways it actually IS harder.

Of course, once you understand and can implement the technique, its actually easier (I think) to follow in close embrace than in open. But that just may be because there are so few leaders in my area who are actually leading open embrace properly. Most use way too much "arm leading" and reaching with their foot prior to projecting their chest.

Because its harder, its easy to assume it shouldn't be taught first. However, NOT teaching it or practicing it requires incredible diligence to avoid develping bad habits in open. So in the long run, I think its better to learn close embrace first and then transfer those principles to open embrace.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#88
"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..
When I first started, I was uncomfortable being held by a strange man even in a Ballroom embrace. It wasn't easy for me to get used to it.

This was a surprise for me because I had taken partnering ballet classes where you end up with each other's hands and body in some pretty intimate connections! However, I knew the dancers in the ballet class well because it was a ballet company. The men who came to ballroom classes were total strangers and I knew absolutely nothing about them. And of course, there's always a few who are just icky or psycologically creepy.

However, unofficial "desensitization therapy" (by simply doing it) eventually made me far less uncomfortable being in a social dance embrace. And dancing close embrace tango certainly makes ballroom embrace a non-issue. But I got used to dancing close embrace tango by having a partner and a few other people that I felt emotionally comfortable with to practice.

Now its no big deal with even a total stranger.

A modified embrace that can accomplish some of the same things, but feels slightly less intimate is to have the follower place her hands on the leaders chest or on his upper arms just below the shoulder. The leader reaches around and places his hands on her shoulder blades. Her arms are on the OUTSIDE which forces him to keep his arms close to his body. Both should have their elbows DOWN.

In this embrace, he cannot easily use his arms to push her around and it helps keep her directly in front of him. They HAVE to move together and get used to the role each has in making that happen.

It also gives the woman some feeling of control in how close he gets to her. Additionally, it means that she is exerting some forward pressure and can also feel HIS forward pressure. And if an apilado lean is desired, she is holding her weight to some extent with her arms rather than collapsing against him which is what she's afraid to do. All in all, its a good starting point.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#89
. 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.
I would say this says more about the teachers than about the forms of embrace
 

bastet

Active Member
#90
I am a beginner leader, and I cannot lead open for the life of me :( Although leading in close embrace is going rather well so far.
But I am a somewhat experienced follower, and a female. :)
hee hee....

I lead both ways, just depending on the the person and what they seem to want.

Did you get more used to close embrace dancing first? Or do you do more close embrace as a follower?

I think I learned to lead open first, but I was already comfortable by that time following in open or close.
 
#91
hee hee....

I lead both ways, just depending on the the person and what they seem to want.

Did you get more used to close embrace dancing first? Or do you do more close embrace as a follower?

I think I learned to lead open first, but I was already comfortable by that time following in open or close.
I learned to follow in open first. Right now I dance more in close. Most of our best milongas happen in tight quarters, and people tend to dance close embrace more.
I like dancing open as well, though. Some of my favorite leaders prefer open, and many switch between the two during one tanda. One of them is a teeny tiny woman. She is an excellent leader, so very inspiring. :)
 

bastet

Active Member
#92
The simple truth is that close embrace IS more difficult. You can't "cheat" certain things. You have to have really good technique. There's less wiggle room (figuratively & literally) for doing things improperly. So in some ways it actually IS harder.
I think in general just learning to lead properly is harder....and I know my own faults in that area in both open and close embrace as a leader (and a follower too). I have become a proponent of nixing most of the dissociation and other Salon-style complications (at the risk of starting a Salon/Milonguero shoot out) and keeping it super simple, non-rolling, non-dissociated Milonguero style for the first 6 months or so to really drive the point home about connection and leading from the torso, and good connection (and patience), extension and presence for beginning follows. I prefer to ditch the rest that needs lots of dissociation as nonessential at the beginning (sacadas, ganchos and overturned ochos aren't an essential social dance skill IMO) and then start adding it back in later, when basic connection is in place.

Of course, once you understand and can implement the technique, its actually easier (I think) to follow in close embrace than in open. But that just may be because there are so few leaders in my area who are actually leading open embrace properly. Most use way too much "arm leading" and reaching with their foot prior to projecting their chest.
agree, agree, agree....

Because its harder, its easy to assume it shouldn't be taught first. However, NOT teaching it or practicing it requires incredible diligence to avoid develping bad habits in open. So in the long run, I think its better to learn close embrace first and then transfer those principles to open embrace.
Yes- the incredible number of bad habits I see from people that have had very scattered learning is mind-boggling....and I know people who have had exactly the same issue with close embrace that Hank does, and who have gotten through it by learning to connect properly and how to explore close embrace techniques as more than "standing really close to someone".

It all came down to having the right teacher, someone who was actually able to transmit the information to them in a useable way.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#93
The simple truth is that close embrace IS more difficult.
I don't think that is true for everyone. I know that I lead much better in close embrace than in open. I still don't really have the knack of how to lead ochos or turns in open without using my arms to excess (at least according to some followers). Generally speaking, at milongas I stay away from followers that prefer open embrace (although I'll make an exception for beginners).

Of course, I can't speak about what is easier for anyone else.
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#94
Wrong. See early AT footage, they're not in close embrace.
Um...excuse, me? I not only have seen early AT footage; I lived there; studying the dance, its related dances, and their respective histories. the stylings in the early footage that 'you' are mistakenly referring to does not depict what was taught first, or not, and is not what this discussion is about.

The real issue is whether or not the so called close embrace is easier to teach to a beginner than the so called open. And, the bottom line is that it is a matter of opinion. Heather posted some very nice points about close dancing whether in BR or AT, which I believe answered all of this quite well. Simply that dancing closely is difficult for beginners, period...having nothing to do with AT close embrace.

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.
Again, a matter of preference, edcuation, comfortablility, demographics, ...need I go on. When teaching BR, I have always, and will continue to, maintain that the silver should be taught first...before the bronze. Yeah, yeah, yeah....the usual arguments. However, as in your example of the teacher who teaches apilado after a year, my BR students are constantly viewed as some of the best, or best looking, dancers on the floor.

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.
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#95
....your teacher needs you more than you need them. If they are not sympathetic towards what you want [...or knowledgable of what you need, and how to get you there...] 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.
(red is my insert)

Very nice post, Heather.
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#96
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zoopsia59

The simple truth is that close embrace IS more difficult. You can't "cheat" certain things. You have to have really good technique. There's less wiggle room (figuratively & literally) for doing things improperly. So in some ways it actually IS harder.


I think in general just learning to lead properly is harder....
Zoops, you know how I feel about you, but, Bas and d' have a point. Agreed, per Heathers' post, that dancing close createss challenges...doesn't mean that it is more/less difficult. Just different. Your referenced post, re cheating, is the same as when students tell me that dancing fast is easier than dancing slowly b/c they can cheat when it's fast, and no one notices. My answer is always, "You did". Dancing fast isn't easier b/c you can cheat; it's actually more difficult b/c you can cheat.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#97
This made me chuckle, although I am pretty sure I know what you mean...

"leader not giving adequate pec signals before he steps "

quick contraction of the left pectoral signals a back ocho
quick contraction of the right pectoral signals a front ocho
etc.

Another variation of the "secret hand shake".

(Don't take this seriuosly. Just kidding!)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
#98
This made me chuckle, although I am pretty sure I know what you mean...

"leader not giving adequate pec signals before he steps "

quick contraction of the left pectoral signals a back ocho
quick contraction of the right pectoral signals a front ocho
etc.

Another variation of the "secret hand shake".

(Don't take this seriuosly. Just kidding!)
Bwa ha ha!!.. and quickly alternating contractions signals traspie'!
 

Ampster

Active Member
#99
Originally Posted by Angel HI
Secondly, the so-called close embrace was taught first for generations to an entire country of persons in the birthplace of the dance.
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.
Here's a 1933 clip of "El Cachafaz" from and Argentinean movie. Sure looks like close embrace to me

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OK, its Friday night, 9:00 PM and I'm off to a milonga!
 

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