6242  Transitions from open/close embrance (was Smooth


Date: Mon, 09 Feb 2009 00:10:42 -0200
From: Shahrukh Merchant <shahrukh@shahrukhmerchant.com>
Subject: [Tango-L] Transitions from open/close embrance (was Smooth
Tango :: Two tone wingtips do not a leader make)
To: tango-l@mit.edu

Tango22 <tango22@gmail.com> says:

> Since when can't you execute a front ocho in a [closed] tango embrace?

[He was referring to a statement by "Richard" (which appeared to be
private email that was subsequently quoted to the list--as an aside, do
make sure you have the permission of someone to quote personal email to
the list).]

That was my reaction as well when I read Richard's statement (to be
fair, he only said that the embrace "needs to breathe," which doesn't
necessarily mean that it opens). But it's nonetheless a good example of
the ways that Tango is done differently in Buenos Aires from the way it
is taught outside of Buenos Aires (even by most of the teachers from
Buenos Aires).

Tango22 is absolutely right that you can be in a completely closed
embrace and execute a front ocho. It IS more difficult and requires
better technique, but it's much more satisfying to dance as you remain
connected with (not just "in contact with") your partner throughout. As
the woman is taking her forward step on the right foot, the man needs to
step forward into the space occupied by the woman just as she is
vacating it, while rotating to the right with the woman. It's the
dynamic effect of the man doing this that then creates the woman's lead
and done this way it allows the couple to remain in an entirely close
embrace throughout and they move naturally together. (Sorry, it's not
really possible to explain this entirely in words ... .)

This as opposed to the way most beginners seem to be taught the ocho,
where the focus seems to be exclusively on what the woman is doing, to
the detriment of the man's technique. The man ends up using his arms
mostly rather than his body, and the woman ends up not feeling enough of
a lead and often develops an unfortunate tendency to complete the ocho
on her own.

On a related subject, the business of automatically switching from open
to close embrace in the middle of a figure also seems extremely
artificial to me. Yes, I took workshops from famous (and well-respected,
including by me) Argentine teachers where the subject of the workshop
was something like "How to switch back and forth between close and open
embrace." But in practice, I find the effect jarring and entirely
unnecessary (except when I realize early that a woman is uncomfortable
in a close embrace and I need to open it ONCE for the rest of that dance
and that tanda). Particularly jarring is when the woman AUTOMATICALLY
pushes away into an "exhibition-style" hold at the first sign of an ocho
or giro coming up (by that I mean her left hand moving from around my
shoulder down to my bicep, and then using that hold to push herself away
from me as "preparation" for the ocho or giro). It is completely
unnecessary in social dancing (not to mention destroying the feeling of
connection), unless one is switching back and forth between salon
dancing and exhibition or nuevo-type figures (and even then the change
should be led).


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