The embrace is an interesting topic in tango because it’s very personal. It is a reflection of who taught you how to dance, how many years of experience you have, how comfortable you are with opening your personal space, and, obviously the style of dancing you prefer. Traditional milongueros won’t open the embrace at all, whereas Tango Nuevo dancers rarely go into close embrace. Here at Tango Space, we teach tango salon, where it is customary to move between a close and open embrace.
We believe it adds to the fun to be able to play between close and open embrace. Yet, with more freedom comes more complexity, so in our classes we often clarify when dancers should and should not open the embrace.
For most tango movements, opening the embrace is not necessary. However, in a few very specific occasions, it is helpful: either because it gives space for embellishments, or because it allows the dancers to go back to their own axis. Here are the few movements for which opening the embrace adds flavour to the dance.
99% of the time in the Parada
An open embrace is a key element of a beautiful parada (except in a few very specific occasions). Indeed, leaders do the parada in order to give their partner some space and time to decorate, a key element of which is the open embrace. The women need to feel comfortable when doing embellishments, so the men give them space by releasing the embrace. This also allows women to go back to their own axis, and stand straight when embellishing, which looks much nicer from the outside.
Sometimes in the ochos, especially forward ochos
Usually, you don’t need to open the embrace in the ochos. However, sometimes you might want to release your embrace so that your partner can go back to her axis and pivot more easily. This is especially helpful when doing forward ochos.
When you want to add embellishments to your giro
Let’s start with when NOT to open the embrace in a giro:
- When you are leading half-giros
- When the dance floor is busy and you need to do small movements
- When the DJ is playing old orchestras from the Guarda Vieja (as a general rule, this depends on the music…)
However, when the leader wants to add embellishments to the giro – such enrosque and lapiz or planeo – he will need to open the embrace.
By opening the embrace, the leader is ‘pushing the follower away’ (just a little bit!), and in doing so he creates space for his embellishments. Also, releasing the embrace allows him to be strongly on his own axis, which makes it much easier to do complicated giro embellishments where balance is key.
To learn more about giros in close and open embrace, and how to do an elegant giro with lapiz, check out TANGO CORE™, our online course for elegance and power in tango.
We hope it helps and wish you wonderful open and close embraces!