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Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Embrace me like you really want to dance tango

Tango is music and we can dance to it, but without an embrace, I’m not dancing tango – I’m doing something else. I make my connection with the music, with my partner, with the floor through the embrace. It’s my medium of communication – I propose a movement to my partner, she responds, I follow – our bodies communicate this through the embrace. Of course, I’m talking close embrace, and when I’m in Buenos Aires in particular, that means chest to belly contact – then we dance as one.

Taking up the embrace with a new partner is a defining moment. I take up the embrace with very clear intent. I want my partner to know that I feel confident with her, to reassure her that I know how to dance well, that I will keep her safe as she is led into the unknown, to create a feeling of trust. At the same time, my partner will communicate a lot to me when she takes up my embrace: I will be able to sense her love of tango, the strength of her frame (if she presents a weak right arm, then the dance may be compromised immediately), her willingness to surrender (entregarse). We are exchanging knowledge about each other - a lot of information flows back and forth at that moment, and almost immediately we create expectations and sense how we are going to approach the dance.

With a good embrace, I can lead one step then pause - we are able to wait-feel-listen while being transported by the music. With a good embrace, I feel confident that we can improvise and navigate regardless of the crowd. With a good embrace there is an intimacy, with energy flowing continuously between my partner, me and the music. Only with a good embrace can I dance tango.

Much has been written about the embrace and the following quotes encapsulate its essence for me:

  • Mari in her tango diaries says: “Hold me like it’s personal”. She also writes about the ‘entrega’ mentioned above.
  • Stephanie in her blog writes: “the embrace is about who you are and your ability to communicate that to another”
  • Finally, Johanna in her blog ‘I’m so easy to please’ gets to the heart of the matter with a piece of fundamental advice: “Just embrace me like you mean it.”

And for those searching for the perfect embrace, a starting point could be the advice (at 2m30s) from one of our favourite couples, Melina & Detlef - men, give your partner a genuine hug, then take up her right hand.

Just do it.

So what do you want from the embrace?


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