close or open embrace

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by aqua, Jan 5, 2010.

  1. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Another good reason not to have kids... ;)

    Of course, I've noticed that with most adults you have to repeat your name over and over until they eventually remember it too, so maybe the kid just has trouble remembering names... :p
  2. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I'd call it teaching by instructing.

    or just wearing the kid down til he complies to get Mom to shut the %&#*up !

    Say? Maybe that's why tango students eventually have a breakthrough too!
  3. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Gaah...stupid Firefox schpluntzed and I lost my response.

    I've got to disagree with some of what you've written.

    Yes, close/open transitions can be awkward. If they are done poorly. But it is a learned skill that can be practiced like anything else. Just because it is difficult doesn't mean that it can't or shouldn't be done.

    Furthermore, just because a follower is not sharing weight in close embrace does not mean that her technique is necessarily wrong, or that she's just using open technique and standing closer. There is a style of close embrace dancing (what I've always heard referred to as Salon style--YMMV) where each partner is on their own axis. As opposed to apilado (again, YMMV) where there is a sharing of weight and a shared axis. They are to separate things, and neither is wrong.

    Generally, I haven't seen so much of a mismatch between what style someone chooses to dance and their technique. I usually just see shoddy technique and a complete lack of creativity.
  4. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Interesting. I find that they are equally creative/limited, but that apilado is perhaps slightly more limiting.
  5. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    My personal preference would be to use a tai-chi idea, and instead of callign it the axis (which suggests something that rotates) calling it the ground path - the path in our body we use to connect with the ground, and the vector we use to generate power and stabiliy. With a vertical axis (the thing the dancer/couple rotates around) the ground path coincides with the axis, while in abilado they deviate from each other.


    I wish there was an advanced stuff one can do in apilado thread, too.
    The one thing that i have figured is that apilado can be big - loooong steps. It is very tempting to go for small steps, just becasue the directness of the connection invites quick rhytmic play, and a lot of our archetypical ce dancers do the languid milonguero shuffle, but this is not neccessary.
    Other things: apilado is not just smaller, it is also faster. Using a milonguero turn to set up an single axis turn lets you do a 360 on a dime and within half of a bar if you doubletime the turn (easy in a tango)
    Apilado makes playing with the vertical dimension easier, so cayuenge (sp?) style accents in ochos and in the walk are doable.
    And now the most interesting thing for me - because both partners are connected more directly not only do i know exactly where her feet are, but she also knows exactly where my feet are - a open embrace invisible weightshift is actually invisible to her, a close embrace invisble weightshift is "he shifted his weight, but did not lead a weightshift for me". An active follower has much, much more leeway in how she follows and how she accentuates than in oe, because she controls the shared axis as much as the leader does. The follower determines what a move feels like for a leader. It is hard to describe, but in oe her adornments happen in "her" space, while in ce they happen in our space. If we are standing around in oe, waiting for something to happen she can do little circles, or draw triangles, or do heel taps or do toe taps, and it really does not matter to me. In ce i know where her leg is, and there is a world of difference between a toe tap and a heel tap. (this might be a product of the limitations of my sensitivity - though it is interesting that expressive followers in oe gravitate towards adornments that are hip moves, and body rolls, getting off axis and suspended boleos - all things that are perceptible to the oe leader.)

    Gssh
  6. chanchan

    chanchan Member

    Maybe I didn't understand what you mean, but the step known as "volcada" could be an example of some "advanced stuff" you can do in a very apilado and very close embrace position.
    In general I would say that apilado embrace can make fancy steps more difficult, but not always impossible.
  7. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Cool :cool:
  8. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    I hate when the computer eats my responses - especially when i have writen a longish reply - thank you for typing this again - i often give up at that point :).

    Salon is to me an odd thing. I started my tango doing very nuevo, very open embrace, and then got interested exploring milonga deeper, which lead me to get into apilado close embrace for milonga, which then got me back into apilado close embrace for tango. Salon is to me personally the least satifying style because (again, too me, which is a personal, and a function of my history) it feels for me like it sits uneasily between my personal CE and OE styles. The half-open, half closed v-embrace, and the keeping a seperate axis while keeping a active connection makes the dance feel exceedingly asymmetrical to me, like dancing oe to the left side, and ce to the right.
    I personally love that (even thought the embrace is asymetrical and many things are much harder in one direction than in the other) nuevo really embraces the "if it works on the right side it works on the left side, too" idea, and i look for the same thing in apilado ce - this is why i personally think parallel, non-offset ce gives you the most options within ce.

    As i said, my foundational training in tango is nuevo, and (becasue of that?) what i in general find appealing is mechanical efficiency and a unified conceptual framework of movement. I really have no good conceptual framework for salon because i don't really understand what salon is trying to do - i somewhat understand how both apilado ce technique and apilado ce posture work together, and i somewhat understand how both nuevo oe technique and nuevo oe posture work together, and i know that salon is somewhere in the middle, but i don't really get it on the conceptual level. (and thus my inability to seamlessly transition ce to oe :( ). I don't think salon is wrong (actually, i love the look and what people do with it, and i am envious of its elegance - some people really manage to get the best of all worlds from dancing salon), but i think if we contrast open vs. close embrace salon is uneasily in the middle.

    The way i see it is that this here is a mostly theoretical discussion of the concepts of ce vs oe tango, and salon (deliberately ) is not really on that axis. I guess salon is the suv of tango - it does everything well, and has a distinct style to itself (elegance), but it is neither a truck like apilado ce nor a sportscar like nuevo oe. :)

    Gssh
  9. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Hehehe...I love your SUV analogy. (Even though I don't care for SUVs.) :)

    OK, your statement is making more sense to me now. At least, it's making sense in the...er, sense...that a lot of it is your preference based on how you started. I guess mine is the same. I started with close embrace, on separate axes, and there was never really a separation (until much later) between that and open; similarly, once I was introduced to sharing weight there was never a separation between that and salon and open. They were introduced in such a way that for me there really was no distinction, and switching between them got to feel very natural. Later on I got to really working on the individual technique of each one, but especially at first it just wasn't a big deal. (Now I'm kind of back to the separation not being a big deal.)

    (Now, if you ask my teacher, he'd probably have completely different words about how my transitions felt to him! LOL. I paid him well--happily--to put up with me. Heh.)

    Regarding the V-embrace, I've read time and again here on D-F about the oddness of it. I wonder if there's a leader/follower difference in terms of how it feels. Again, it isn't something that I ever really bothered with. My first teacher was really short, so I looked over his shoulder and things closed up. My other teacher was taller, it was less comfortable that way, so I learned to open up and turn my head the other way. *shrug* It wasn't until later that it occurred to me that there was anything more to it than that.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Darn got distracted and lost something.

    I think what happens is the V embrace often comes with what for me is a weak connection throught the woman's right hand, which increases the assymetry that Gssh mentions. This may be, again, just an example of just plain poor technique.

    (I sometimes get the "You should relax your right arm. It's too tense" comment. This usually from women who don't give me anything to work with on that side. The dance we end up doing reflects this. Books written on dance are consistent with advice on "arm tone". AT ISN"T that different.)

    One dance book from 1968 talks about this way of connecting being less than desirable. Most everything else applies perfectly well to current AT, but not all.

    The only woman I've danced with who was very obviuosly a V embrace dancer was from Buenos Aires making a quick stop at the practica for some dancing. The others who go V feel to me like they just can't stay right in front of me unless I hold them there with my right arm.

    So, I would be happy to dance with someone who "wanted" a V embrace if they did it well, although even with the woman from BA it felt odd. But then anything you aren't used to usually feels odd.
  11. New in NY

    New in NY New Member

    Interesting. It does make sense that often preference is based on how we initially learn, although it sounds as if more than a few people here have explored various types of embraces over the course of their learning. I don't know enough to understand the nuances of the different types of embraces, but what I am learning as "close embrace" resembles the descriptions above of the V embrace, on my own axis. My teacher is from BA, both a wonderful teacher and performer. My first few AT lessons were with a chain studio and the teacher taught CE with a shared axis and my head turned to the right (I am a follower), and I wonder if that is characteristic of apilado or if the teacher was carrying that over from ballroom tango.
  12. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    For me the difference is not so much in that it feels odd, it is that the options for vocabulary are odd - the left side vocabulary is really, really distinct from the right side vocabulary. If i stick with tried and true things this is really no problem, but if i improvise or play with options to do new things it is really noticable.
    E.g. rock turns in salon:
    rock turn to the left (very simplified): left foot forward rocking, turn in place.
    Follower rocks, pivots, sidesteps, is with you.
    (this is what i call oe technology)
    rock turn to the right: left foot forward rocking.
    Follower rocks, frontsteps around you, pivots, is with you
    (this is ce technology)
    Works perfectly.
    But what happens if i do the reverse? i.e. rock forward with my right foot and turn in place?
    to the left the follower rocks, and then has to pivot, frontstep, pivot, sidestep to be with me again
    (oe technology)
    to the right the follower is already aligned with me, there is no reason for her to go anywhere at the end of the rock.
    (to get a turn i have to more activly open this side , and then and move back with her to create space for her (ocho cortado like), or move forward around her to create space for her (media luna), or something similar - all ce technology)

    ((so i just made this up while sitting at my desk - i am about 80% sure that this is what would happen :) - and yes, clever use of the chest and embrace and a sensitive follower can modify all this)

    Overall left moves are more oe, right moves are more ce. But what happens with moves that are really neither? for example linear walking ochos - if the salon logic held and to make starting any move at any time possible, her backocho half to the open side should be more milonguero back cross like, the one to the closed side should be more pivot+step like. Usually i open up the right side of the embrace to do pivot+step on both sides, but then i have to close the embrace again to do a "closed side" move, which means i need a beat or half beat preperation for it, or i need to modify my lead of the right side move to include a change of embrace/technology. And i find that aestethically displeasing.

    Or the classic followers difficulty with the back step in the moulinette: i think this is at least partially a consequence of this:
    ce moulinette to the left:
    side step, back cross, sidestep, front cross, side step, back cross
    oe moulinette to the left:
    side step,back step, side step, front step, side step, back step

    "hypothetical" salon moulinette (because the back step starts from the close side of the embrace):
    side step, back cross, side step, front step, side step, back cross

    which is again not not aesthetically pleasing, so we ask the followers to do:

    side step, "this is really difficuly, and you have to be very conscious to dissociate a LOT and do the same lenght as the other steps" back step, side step, front step, side step, "you need to have really good technique to do this, but it is fundamental for good following" back step, side step, front step, side step, "i notice you step away from your leader here, you have to really, really dissociate and put your foot down at the same distance from the leader as on the other steps"

    and we tell leaders: "well, you can't really trust most followers to do this properly, so when doing saccadas, or taking followers out of the moulinette, or anything really from a moulinette, catch them on the side step"

    Why the side step? becasue that is the part that is the same, no matter if a follower uses ce or oe technique.

    Gssh
  13. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    In this case I would say that form follows function. You COULD bury your face in whatever part of your partner's body happens to be there. I do see some people dance this way. In general, though, it's supposed to be more comfortable if the head is turned to the side.
    Thinking about it further, though, if the woman is tall enough she can have a view over the man's shoulder to her left, which can be helpful to avoid collisions.
    In most dances partners look in opposite directions, no?
    I don't think there is a right or wrong here, but then I think that about a lot of things in AT.
    Interesting that a chain studio teacher taught a shared axis style.
  14. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    Not 'characteristic' of apilado but it is characteristic of performance tango where they want a good photo opp.
  15. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Touchy, touchy. I never said that leaning was wrong or poor technique. What I said was "As a lead, I find that close embrace with a leaning partner is more difficult than with a partner who manages her own balance." That is a comment about my leading abilities and preferences, not about my follower.

    Now I do happen to like close embrace where we are not leaning, and I believe that it increases the accessible vocabulary substantially with no drawbacks. It is still a full on, full contact embrace. (Can you walk up to the wall and make full contact without leaning on it? Of course. Just weight the balls of your feet.) Everything one can lead while leaning can be lead at least as easily without the lean, and the transition from CE-OE and back is easy to lead.

    It does not necessarily result in emotional distance, and the best CE follower I have ever danced with (and took about a billion hours of CE lessons from) never leans. And she has been a featured instructor at national CE workshops, and she partnered one of the best known milonguero dancers for some time for whatever that is worth.

    But that doesn't mean I am saying there is anything wrong with the technique of follows who lean!! My point is that there are well known teachers of both, and that they are different techniques, and I happen to have an easier and more enjoyable time with one rather than the other.
  16. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Don't believe this for a second. Full contact without the lean (I still manage her balance, but NO lean) is a soft, supple, romantic and caring dance. The lean results in a much more heavily marked dance and/or much limited vocabulary. IMHO
  17. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    Hmm, judging by both of the last posts i am wondering if we have a miscommunication - when i hear/say no lean i don't understand it as "full contact without lean" and "the leader still manages her balance". Using your wall example i would call "making full contact with it" "leaning" - not really in the sense of "me leaning on it" but "me leaning forward" (which is accomplished by putting weight on my balls) - if I was not leaning (in the sense of leaning forward) but instead standing straight my chest would be the length of my feet away from the wall.

    Seriously, i never thought of the "lean" in apilado in terms of "lean on" but in terms of "lean forward" - and i can lean quite a bit forward without having to lean on something - i just tried it on my wall here, and the limit is for me roughly at a distance of 6 inches between the tips of my toes and the wall - any further and it becomes uncomfortable to hold this lean, and i have to lean on the wall. (and yes, if somebody heavily leans on me/hangs on me i find it limiting, too)

    Ahh, the joys of trying to exchange ideas about dance using written words :) - several pages of discussion based on a difference in terminology. Thank you for clarifying this issue - i apologize for reacting based on what i thought you were saying, and not what you were actually saying.


    Ok, let me rephrase my comment then: Followers who try to dance close embrace without actually using consistent chest to chest contact as the primary communication surface, and who not activly use their footwork to maintain this primary communication surface are probably not doing what i would call close embrace tango, and try to use what i consider open embrace concepts like being on their own (vertical, not leaning forward) axis and maintaining ones own axis till the leader activly moves one off that axis (by tilting the axis from vertical to non-vertical/creating a lean in some direction) and then to move to/through the next axis. This usually makes leading close embrace tango difficult.

    Gssh
  18. ant

    ant Member

    Do you not feel that the length and therefore quality of that contact has a significance as well.

    I prefer the longest contact I can get, hopefully from the chest down to the solar plexus. When I get this contact the transition from CE to OE is no problem and my lead from my body is very light.

    When the contact is just around the chest area I have a feeling that the follower is in some way using me for support and I would not try to open the embrace unless I do this very deliberately. When I do I generally find that those followers cannot manage their own axis.
  19. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    I just thought I'd share some thoughts as I've been learning dynamic salon from the beginning. I'm still a noob, but I do have some idea now about how it all fits together.

    I think there are three things that bring together a good salon embrace and make it stand out from the other styles: Fluidity, Musicality, and Spatial Awareness.

    The way my teacher explained it to me, the embrace is neither open or close, a 1 or a 0; it's everything in between. The embrace shifts as the leader opens up space for the follower, and the exact amount of the shift depends entirely on the figure and how big the leader wishes to make the movement. Even dancing very close, you are always able to slide or open your arms slightly to accommodate the movement. The embrace also shifts to support or contain the actions of the follower; first you open up the space you want her to occupy, then you follow through by supporting her, making the movement belong to both of you. You also never stop making small adjustments. From my very first lesson, my teacher drilled this into me... she never let me just have my right arm still in one spot. It always had to find the optimal placement for every single figure. The key to the whole thing is that the embrace is almost a living warm thing in itself; the arms and upper body are always adjusting to the comfort of the dancers.

    The key to good transitions lies in musicality. The change in the level of the embrace shouldn't just be done for kicks, it should be treated like another step in the dance. For example, suppose you started out close, and then you hear a big swell in the music. You decide to open up and let loose with a large open embrace molinette with multiple sacadas. Then the phrase ends, the music slowly dies down. You welcome the follower back into close, perhaps with a parada, collecting her at the end. Every step or change in the embrace has a meaning. Connection between the leader and the follower is maintained through the transition by their connection to the music.

    There are also different ways to lead changes in the level of the embrace, but I'm not sure I can describe them. I was mostly taught them by feel.

    Lastly is spatial awareness. This is probably a big part of any dance, but according to one of my teacher's teachers, mastery of the salon style comes with being able to find your partner at all times, open, close, whatever the distance. My teacher and her teacher put on a little demonstration about this once, where they danced in open but leaned in so the tips of their noses were touching. They then whirled about, doing a few different steps, ochos, several turns, etc, and their noses never lost contact or smooshed against each other. :)

    Anyway. Just my thoughts. Also, I don't really get the V embrace either. :) I do the full squared CE, but slide my arms and move my torso as needed.

    I guess the SUV metaphor is appropriate, but I can't help think that there's more to the style than versatility. That the versatility comes from the philosophy, rather than being a goal in itself. ok I'm definitely rambling now, time for bed. heh.
  20. Mladenac

    Mladenac Active Member

    great post sub.
    embrace is always floating in V CE.
    But dancer should first accomodate to OE, and CE distinctively at first.

    Just want to add this:

    I dance in V CE.
    If I don't sometimes I cannot fully embrace my partner with my right hand.
    If I don't embrace her fully I can't feel her.

    leaning vs not leaning.
    I don't understand completely what you guys mean.
    Does in not lean mode move her back steps from hips, or does she use ribcage to move.

    shared weight:
    When we dance, we have our own balance, but follower gives always a little contra pressure towards leader.
    If leader suddenly moves away she remains stable, does not fall towards leader.

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