Learning to Dance
(Close embrace )
Copyright, 2004, Brian Dunn,
Dance of the Heart
Boulder, Colorado USA
We'd like to thank Brian Dunn for permission to reprinted
this detailed article on teaching Milonguero Style Argentine tango dancing.
For more information about Argentine
tango in Boulder, Colorado, please visit his website!
NOTE: Although this article is oriented toward dance instructors,
students can still learn a lot about dancing milonguero style by reading
When teaching apilado technique (frequently referred
to as "milonguero style")...,
1. Get everybody into couples, and practice the following
"asymmetrical commitment": the LEADER can stand
alone, stable and secure, with his weight in the foward part of the balls
of his feet, and perhaps slightly up intohis toes.
The follower should settle into the leader "headlight to headlight",
with no hands, while he remains strong and stable like this, and take
up a slightly MORE COMMITTED posture in which she REQUIRES the leader
to be there to remain stable for her own security.
Test this by having thefollower back away from the leader: he should have
no difficulty standing on his own. Then have the leader back GENTLY
away from the follower NO MORE THAN AN INCH OR SO, and see
if she "falls into him." Reassure the followers that "this
is only a test." Don't do this while dancing - partners are just
weight-shifting at this point. Practice this until everybody gets it.
Have the FOLLOWER procure from somewhere a nickel or a quarter (dimes
and pennies are less satisfactory). If necessary, give the FOLLOWER an
3. Have the leader take up a forward-projecting position as indicated
above, with vertical spine and neck, and forward-tilting legs with a flex
at both hips and knees. WAIT FOR HER in this position.
4. Have the follower place the coin on her own solar plexus (a little
below the sternum) OR on the leader's solar plexus (her call) and HOLD
IT THERE while she takes up the embrace with the leader, as described
5. Once she removes her hand from the coin, the couple settles into the
embrace, with hands and arms placed as desired. REGARDLESS of hands and
arms, their MUTUAL goal is to keep the coin, the physical symbol of their
metaphysical connection, in place throughout the dance. ALL ELSE (fancy
footwork, rigid technique goals, what the last teacher said, etc.) is
secondary to this goal for the purpose of this exercise.
6. For most people starting this exercise, the coin will fall between
them at some time, with much mutual hilarity for the couple. Chase the
coin down and GIVE IT TO THE FOLLOWER to place on herself again,
and renew the process. Discuss issues that come up, and suggest solutions.
7. Rotate partners, but the FOLLOWER keeps the coin.
8. More advanced dancers can then take on "apilado challenges"
to execute various kinds of moves without dropping the coin. If you keep
the coin up, it's apilado.
In our experience this exercise is very successful, and produces the
fastest results.We use it as the keystone of a set of exercises and techniques
focusing on different types of connection, and how to test the presence
or absence of different kinds of connection in different situations.
Try it, I think you'll like it.
A bit of background
Argentine Tango Dance Lessons, DJ Services, Parties
In between four tango trips to Buenos Aires and three to Europe, my partner
Deb Sclar and I have been teaching Argentine tango, hosting milongas and
events, and DJing in Boulder and Denver for the last five years (full-time
for the last two). In that time, we have taught thousands of people in
group classes and hundreds of private lessons (300 so far this
year) in the Colorado market, which as Sergio noted, can be characterized
as primarily "close embrace salon" dancing.
Over the years, the vast majority of our clients and students are interested
in improving their close embrace social tango dancing, without any reference
to "milonguero style" in particular. In our own social dancing,
we dance primarily close embrace salon, and also enjoy apilado/"milonguero"
dancing and "nuevo tango" with the right partner and music.
All the best,
Dance of the Heart
Boulder, Colorado USA
Argentine Tango Lessons, Parties and DJ Services
Thanks for your interesting in...
Argentine Tango and Milonguero Style Dancig