El Abrazo, the embrace is the definition of Tango. This is the single most important aspect that differentiates our dance from any other discipline. It can be really simple or really complex depending on how you look at it and how much you want to explore it. This was the essence of the class on Sunday when Leandro and Maria walked us through a bit of history and evolution of embraces.
Ofcourse, the yoga part of the theme was beautifully covered in how you transition from muscular enrgy to organic energy.
One of the first lessons to be taught was that the embrace is not just about the arms, it involves the whole of the body and not just the parts of the body that are in physical contact. With that knowledge, a million possibilities open up depending on the positioning of the wrists, arms, angles, level of the arms, etc.
We were taught and asked to try a simple sequence with embraces from different eras – particulary the Milanguero style, salon style and nuevo style.
We were asked to explore what was easier in the Milanguero style and what is not. It became apparent that pivoting is not the easiest in this style, it was really more about the front-on connection.
Leandro also explained the evolution of the embraces with changes in music like how longer notes lead to pivots and the essential adjustments in the embrace and how the wrist positioning affects this.
One of the key learning to come out of the class was there is nothing wrong in choosing any embrace you like. The more you know, the more educated your choice will be. Also, learning the different styles means you can be more responsive to the preferred style of your partner.
Advantage to LPTA students here :-) We then got into the intricacies of the Salon style and the nuances and variations with it. It definitely is a never ending topic to explore! Leandro explained how keeping the wrists to the shoulder level of the follower creates efficiency and comfort and how to adapt it for the height of your partner.
We were taught to observe how followers get into the embrace when invited for a dance – there are clues there into their preferred style of dancing. That is the moment when the preference for embrace and consequently the style of the dance is established – as a follower you don’t want to miss the opportunity to express your preference and as a leader you don’t want to miss the chance to know what the follower prefers. A close embrace within salon style doesn’t mean restriction of movement – there’s lot of freedom that comes with it and it does not always mean chest to chest.
There were also tips to the followers on how to protect their lower back – sometimes I think Leandro is almost a yoga teacher!
Some common mistakes while practicing like holding arms too high were pointed out. When you practice something on your own and you simply repeat the mistakes your body remembers them and it becomes even harder to undo them later. You will be much better off practicing it the right way, so be mindful like a yogi!
There were so many other concepts that were explained too:
- the elasticity of the embrace in giros.
- Providing equal energy – from the left and the right.
- misconceptions about opening of the chest which compromises alignment and how to avoid it.
- While leading, chest is important but so are the other parts of the body. The hip leads too – in fact it plays an important role. The head, chest, arm are all part of the lead.
- Where should the followers head point to – left or right? There was an answer for this too but you would have to listen to Leandro explain this!
With all this deluge of information, where do you start? Well, the answer came from Leandro at the beginning of the class – just try to change one thing at a time maybe two but not more than that. You can build it from there.
Worry not if you missed the classes this week on embrace, just make sure that you are there for the next one!
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