Learn to Dance Tango!

Open and Close Embrace in Tango

March 21, 2018 Dancing Arts

close embraceArgentine Tango Embraces

Argentine Tango has two main kinds of positions or embraces. Those addicted to tango will tell you there are many variations, but most would agree there are two main kinds of embraces — the close embrace and the open embrace. In the close embrace, you are basically chest to chest.

Inviting a Close Embrace

Leaders: If you are dancing with a new partner, it may be good to start with a more open embrace — with your hand on the followers left shoulder-blade and then when you want to invite a close embrace move your hand to her right shoulder-blade. A follower can then accept the close embrace by leaning forward slightly to assume the chest-to-chest position and by moving her left hand up from just below his deltoic musicle to around the leader’s back or neck.

Moving to Open Position

The leader can easily move to open position by moving his hand to the follower’s left shoulder place and pressing gently against her side (near her scapula) to open the position. This often happens naturally on count 5 of the basic. The follower can suggest that she would like more space by moving her hand back to just below the leader’s big deltoid muscle. If he doesn’t get the hint, the follower may press gently (not squeeze) to move herself to a more open position.

A move from close to open position is a very good lead that a more complicated dance figure is about to come. At this time, when in open position, a follower’s eyes will be sparkling and will be riveted on the leader’s chest!

Ochos in Close Embrace

Close embrace usually works best with simple walking and rocking steps and steps 1-4 of the 8-count basic. But it is possible to do other steps, for example, ochos in close embrace. Here’s a video by a sweet couple in Montana in which they discuss this. When watching the video look for these key points:

  • The way you take an embrace at the beginning can effect the rest of the dance.
  • It can be helpful to make an embrace, take a breath, and then change it to see how the follower’s respond.
  • The leader can keep a close embrace but shift it slightly to open to allow for pivoting by the follower as in ochos.
  • An impulse from the leader’s shoulders can help to suggest a slight opening of the close embrace.
  • The follower can relax her hips in close embrace to pivot more easily.
  • The leader can let his right hand “float” to allow for more space during an ocho.
  • Experiment with a partner when practicing to see to what degree you can keep in a “semi” close position and still do steps requiring pivoting

Remember, every day that you don’t dance is lost forever.

Navigating Tips for Argentine Tango

December 21, 2017 Artistry

Navigation on the dance floor is one of the things that beginners struggle with. It’s a skill often neglected in a lot of tango instruction that just focuses on dance figures. An exception is the series of instructional videos by Daniel Trenner.

Below is a sample video from Daniel Trenner and Rebecca Shulman’s Level III instructional video on Argentine tango. This video goes into depth on many advanced tango topics including:

  • Tango adornments (embellishments) for leader and follower
  • Follower’s Technique in Argentine Tango
  • Ganchos
  • Leg Wraps
  • Creating your own tango dance figures
  • Interchange of leader and follower roles…

…as well as many useful new tips on Navigating the dance floor when dancing tango.

The video is an excellent introduction to the Calicita, one of my favorite dance moves. Using the Calicita, you can easily turn to face a new direction — that’s why it is so useful in navigating the dance floor. I like the calicita because…

  • It is an advanced step, yet rather easy to learn.
  • It gives the follower a chance to do some fun adornments with her free left foot.
  • It can be done just about any time the follower steps onto her right foot.
  • It is a unique, romantic dance movement done in close dance position.

This  tango instructional video is a rare video by Daniel Trenner and is about 90 minutes in length; It is packed full of original content you won’t find anywhere else.  Besides instruction, it in included an inspiring tango performance by Daniel Trenner and Rebecca Schulman. The video below is just a brief sample.

Here’s a chance to expand your knowledge of Argentine tango!

Watch this Argentine tango instructional video clip, then see if you can answer the questions below.

1. What two things does the leader do to indicate that a calicita is in progress?
2. When the leader applies pressure to lift the follower up, why is it not perceptible?
3. What does the Follower do with her right foot during the calicita?  Her left foot?
4. What does the Leader do once the calicita is in progress?
5. How does the leader indicate that the calicita is ending?
6. Why is the calicita useful for navigation?
7. When can the leader “pick up” a calicita?

– – –

1 What two things does the leader do to indicate that a calicita is in progress? — Wrap his right arm around the follower’s back to bring her close to him (if he is in open position). He also lifts the follower up slightly.
2. The follower pushes down when the leader applies pressure to lift her up.
3. Follower just keeps her weight on the ball of her right foot (with heel off the floor) and allows the leader to let her pivot  on the right foot.  She can do various adornments with her left foot and then take her left foot behind her right. Suggestion: watch the video again and look for these things.
4. After lifting the follower up and pulling her close, the leader walks in a circle (usually using back, side, forward grapevine like steps).  He does this as long as he likes until he is facing the desired direction.
5. The leader indicates that the calicita is ending by “letting the follower” down.
6. The calicita is useful for navigation because the leader can easily turn to face a new direction.
7. It is explained a bit later in this video course that the leader can “pick up” a calicita anytime the follower steps onto her right foot.   This is not shown in this brief video sample.  The complete video course is about 90 minutes in length.