In every embrace a story is being told EN CADA ABRAZO HAY UNA HISTORIA
IN EVERY EMBRACE A STORY IS BEING TOLD
I recently got back from a five weeks trip to Buenos Aires, San Juan and other places in Argentina and I am still trying to get my head together and catch up on the lack of sleep.It seems like every time I go to Argentina I discover the country for the first time again. I am back with a new perspective and feeling changed. That is how I know it is been a worthwhile trip.Out of many notable discoveries, two experiences are deeply forged in my memories: crossing the Andes back and forth on this trip for the first time (which I would do again in a heart beat) and the visit to the province of San Juan which has an up and vibrant tango community and the most amazing people.
I would like to share some of the important discoveries I have made. Here is a collection of thoughts and lessons about the embrace that have been evolving as I progress in my tango journey.
THE EMBRACE IS WHAT MAKES IT
There are so many things I remember from the milongas, practicas, classes and all the people I met. Some are interesting, some funny, some dramatic, some annoying, some enlightening but the thing that keeps coming back is the embrace. How the most memorable moments are found in the embrace. The embrace creates a connection that is deeper than the usual casual encounter. And I believe it is the most important element of Argentine Tango. The embrace is what makes it or breaks it. That being said, I noticed that some people are particularly aware of its importance,while others are oblivious to it or rather choose to ignore it. For me the difference is clear in the way it feels. I believe there are two kinds of dancers (these are not gender specific):
The dancers that dance for themselves:
The embrace is not the main focus
They prioritize figures over the walk (and the music)
You can often see them having eye contact with other people while dancing
They LOVE ornaments and giros
The pauses are not filled and often rushed
Your attention will be pulled toward them most of the time rather than the couple or both dancers
They often overpower the orchestra
The dancer that dance for their partner:
The embrace is the main focus
They let the orchestra lead first
They often do less figures and fill the pauses
There is a balance between the couple
The figures flow in when the music calls for it
At the end of the night the only thing one truly remembers from a dance is how it made them feel. So, why sacrifice a figures for the embrace? I find that many dancers focus on technique and figures before they even pay attention to the embrace. I believe it should be the starting point, where everything is born. If it is true that the body does not lie and that tango reveals who you are, I would say that the embrace is where it all happens. The good news is that we can grow and change. One chooses to be the kind of dancer he is. If you do not know, ask a close friend or classmate you trust. That is the first step towards making new discoveries.
WHAT IS THE EMBRACE?
On this trip I had the opportunity to teach a ladies workshop in the province of San Juan. At one point one man that had come to take pictures and known as one of the most advanced in the community, came up to me and told me how he had appreciated the way I explained the connection in the embrace. He told me that no one was ever able to explain it in a specific manner. A few ladies joined it to second his opinion. I was thrilled. I have always been one to believe that to fully understand something, one must be able to explain it in simple words. The embrace is created from the connection between a man and a woman (or the two people dancing). Notice I did not say leader or follower? That is because the woman is not just a follower. In Spanish there is no such words to explain the roles in tango. They would say the one that guides and the one who accompanies or the role of the woman and the role of the man. Though the embrace is not the same in form for the man and the woman, one has to lead (anything with two heads is a monster😉), I believe they both must give as much to create connection. Sure, one can compensate for the other but, ideally, we tend to find a “good connection” when there is balance between the two. Many times I have found myself asking the women to give more, embrace more and the men less. Often the women seem to be terrified of leaning, being heavy or anticipating, and as a reaction you find the men pushing and leading with the arms. All these problems need to be talked about and resolved in the embrace. Everything communicated in the embrace will go down in the feet and express itself in the body. It is like throwing a pebble in water and watching it ripple. The embrace should be a back and forth of information. And yes, the woman suggests things. She even leads at some points. This can get confusing. When I started I was thought it was all one way. But dancing with long time milongueras and learning from those who had danced with