Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Embrace: A Field Guide.

New to tango? It can seem like a wasteland, I understand. So many disciplines, so many things to remember, so many things that define you as a dancer, right down to the embrace. But never fear: whether you're a gentle beginner, or someone just looking for a style to call your own, there is a handy field guide to the embrace.


Close embrace, the woman's arm around the man's shoulders, torsos pressed together or tilted slightly to form a small "V". Man's left hand close to the body, tilted upwards; woman's hand resting on man's hand, elbow towards her body.

Close embrace, the woman's arm around the man's shoulders or with the left hand on the man's shoulder blade, torsos in a "V" shape. Man's left hand close to the body, sometimes slightly raised above the shoulder, palm tilted slightly towards the woman; woman's hand resting on the man's hand, the tilted angle giving her a little resistance.

Open embrace, the woman's left hand lightly gripping the man's right arm, the man with his hand on the woman's spine. Man's left hand a little away from the body, palm to the woman; the woman's hand mirrors this.

Villa Urquiza
Close embrace, with the woman's hand low on the man's back, fingers spread. The torsos form a slight "V".

Inestable (The Unstable)
Slightly open embrace, marked by a vise-like grip on the woman's back that robs her of her axis and makes her lean backwards, so the dancing pair forms a human letter K. The man's hand is usually pressing forward; the woman's arm is mostly achy.

Pluma (The Feather)
Close embrace style notable for its trust in the follower to do whatever is led without any guidance or support from the actual embrace. Look for a soft, yiedling hand on the man, and am ebrace loose enough to stick a fist through. Also traceable through a succession of nervous followers.

Lanzar (The Pusher)
Open embrace; the man's right hand i sholding on to the follower's armpit, and the woman's embracing hand grabs the deltoid. The man's left hand is held out from the body parallel to the floor, palm facing her, making it eaiser to fling her. The woman's right hand is her only lifeline; followers of this style tend to have extremely toned forearms.

Lobo (The Wolf)
Extremely close embrace; the man's embrace is firm and his head as close to the bosom of his partner as possible, the woman's arm wraps around the man's neck tightly; for a particularly long-armed follower, wrap two or three times around. The held hands on the open side of the embrace are firmly jammed into the man's collarbone.

Exquisito (Exquisite)
Marked by a firm, yet elastic embrace, hands helf comfortably and with dynamism, and proper axis. This embrace is almost extinct, and can usually only be seen in capitivity. For in situ observation of this rare creature, a trip to Buenos Aires is recommended.


miss tango in her eyes said...

I will have to take note of the Villa Urquiza finger spread, now that I am in this barrio. Frankly I think spreading the fingers like a bunch of bananas does not look very elegant. Also I can here my ballet teacher Nadia, scolding my 6 year old self. NO BANANA FINGERS!

La Planchadora said...

HAHA! Well, Geraldine Rojas and Jennifer Bratt do the Urquiza thing with hands that look more like jewelry models than banana fingers, so I know it's possible to look nice with it, but that is the most hilarious description of the spread hand I've ever heard. I'm going to treasure that one.

Caroline said...

There is one more embrace that I call the Vise - which is when the man squeezes your ribcage till you are half-smothered while grinding his crotch up against yours, thereby rendering all steps except for back steps impossible to perform. It could also be known as the Turista embrace for it seems to be imposed on naive female tourists only.

Tina said...

You may wanna specify that's it's more of an upside-down 'V', lest beginners start leaning away from each other to form a real 'V'... ;-)

Great job with the descriptions!

24tango said...

Regardless of how physically the embrace is made it is the feeling that we transmit and reciprocate that makes the actual difference.

Some embraces are calm, others are nervous, some are passionate and warm, and the same physical hold from another person may not give us enjoyment; it may feel unwelcome and intrusive. It is whom we hold that often determines how we hold them and I feel the embrace settles into its naturally expected form by the couple once the first few steps are taken.

What I personally enjoy most is the feeling of what you refer as to "Exquisito" however I would like to add that there are many other parts in the world where this embrace exists and it does not have to be hoped and searched for in BsAs alone.

Travelling from a "V" to an "A" may be a journey of many embraces but it is certainly worth the destination when we reach it.

I loved your taxonomy, thank you!


Anonymous said...

You seem to have forgotten my personsal favorite: the non-tango dancer's embrace. Usually found with heretic leaders who primarily dance ballroom, this embrace is shaped like an upright Y and is notable for the extreme amounts of pressure put on the follower's lower back and the constant rigidity of the dance frame. Meant to simulate gliding, this embrace attempts to encourage large steps, while simultaneously making them next to impossible in most direction because of the lack of room between the partners' thighs. Like in the Lanzar, the follower does tend to develope arm muscles, as well as a habit of leading herself, as she is expected to step without receiving any sort of signal from the leader's core.