Tango Argentino > close or open embrace

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

  1. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Re: open or closed harder

    No you are not.

    Sorry, I had no time to read the thread, so I hope that no one has already posted the following aspects:

    As a leader I find it such more difficult to dance open than closed. But, it depends on what you are actually working on.

    a) In close hold, a leader can mask problems with his axis, not so in open hold.
    b) The leading technique in open hold is much more refined. An unexperienced leader can change the direction in close hold simply by transferring engery, whereas it is information transfer in open hold.

    For me: I started dancing TA closed, changed to open, and now again to close embrace.

    And finally hello here in DF
  2. bafonso

    bafonso New Member

    I dance both and change even during the same song. I also dance one form or the other depending on music, partner, etc. They're both hard to master, don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Physical constraints limit options in both forms as well as energy flows.

    Even if you dance primarily one form or the other, learning both ways will be enlightening to your dance, just as learning to follow is important if you're a leader.
  3. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Yes exactly - I also find it much harder to dance smoothly in open hold. I find that often I'm too subtle with my chest leads. It's tiring after a lot of CE dancing to suddenly have to focus on (as you put it) the "information transfer". It's like trying to send "smoke signals" across a canyon : you're always aware of how easy it is for the information to disappear in the gap between you.

    Problems with axis also work both ways. A follower has to communicate very clearly where their axis is in OE : whereas in CE the leader can always do a little "rock step" to find that out.
  4. Captain Jep

    Captain Jep New Member

    Personally I never like transferring from CE to OE. One follower described it to me recently as "you're wrapped in this warm blanket and suddenly the leader rips it away from you". And hey guys - it is "all about her" ... (heh - to quote Ampster).

    I've had times recently where Ive been dancing CE and suddenly either the floor clears or a large gap appears in front of me. There's a huge temptation to fill it with travelling sacadas/fancy turns. But I generally dont. Because I feel that once Ive established a CE connection I should keep it. (Ladies - is this right?) :cool:
  5. bjp22tango

    bjp22tango Active Member

    Speaking as someone who doesn't do a lot of AT but dances a lot of different styles that can be danced in a close hold or an open hold, I don't mind being changed from one hold to another if it is lead well and fits in with the music.
    There are several big band arrangements that change the rhythm behind the melody from foxtrot to rumba to swing and back again. This can be a ball to dance to if the leader is listening to the rhythmic changes and making the segues between styles smooth. There is no choppiness in the change from foxtrot to rumba, but a very smooth continuation into a different style of movement. I enjoy that in any style of dance.

    On the other hand, if the music doesn't develop any themes that scream for different movements, staying in one hold/style is perfectly beautiful.
  6. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Ahha. Unfortunately, from my standpoint, some follows do actually lean. If I weren't there, they would fall over no question. Perhaps the issue was indeed linguistic.
    6"+6"=12". And since I tend to dance with my feet perhaps only 6" away from my partner's, achieving the contact merely requires what I refer to as a forward presence, not anything close to a lean. And since this presence allows you to stand by yourself without falling, the same forward presence can be used in open embrace, and I do use it. I try to dance in balance but strongly on the balls of my feet. Thus transitioning between the two only involves separating our feet and is very easily accomplished.
    Me too. :)
    Interesting. In OE, I never expect to have to take my partner off of her axis to create a step. In both CE & OE, I expect my partner to feel my intention to go, and then go. That intention is shown in various forms, such as pressure, contra-body, perhaps dropping a little if you are intending a long step, etc. I use the exact same techniques in both OE & CE. So in both embraces, if I give a clear "pre-lead" (is that a term?), my follow will start her step before I have moved either of my feet, and perhaps even before I have moved at all as seen by an outside observer.
    To me, a large part of the pleasure in the dance is the quality of the connection, including my lead and her response, that allows this level of communication. So although the embrace is important, a good connection goes so much deeper.
  7. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    I hope that my partner moves always from her ribcage. If she moves only from her hips so much of the dance is lost. I dance one tanda only with follows who step from the hips.
    Thank you. You have stated very clearly what I intended to say, but see that I didn't.
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member


    I'd have said that that describes close embrace without weight sharing.

    If I'm sharing weight (a shared axis) with my partner, if he were to move away suddenly I'd be s.o.l.
  9. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    If we both have a forward presence without actually leaning, we can still be functioning on a shared axis even without sharing weight. Axis is a positional thing, and once we have full contact, additional weight doesn't improve the sharing.
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    IMO it's partly semantics.

    I use "shared axis" and "sharing weight" pretty much interchangeably (what I think of as apilado).

    Close embrace with my own axis translates to not sharing weight for me (what I think of as Salon).

    To me, it's just another way of describing the two different styles.

  11. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    This is also how I have come to see it, and if I am in close embrace, my preference is CLOSE embrace.

    Close (even touching) but not weight sharing is what I call Salon.

    @Cap'n Jep: and so to answer Cap'n Jep- yes...I too also feel like if I am in close embrace with a leader where it's like a warm blanket, and suddenly it goes away...that's very disruptive to my "tango zone".

    @Tangnuevo- yes, I do tend to get touchy about this, though not personally to you, because most of the time I see this type of post of "followers who can't maintain their own axis" it usually comes with an inherent implication of wording (can't) which implies negligence or poor training on a follows part. Not that they are using a different set of skills that is equally valid, just not perhaps suitable for how you want to dance at that time.
  12. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    I think it is more than semantics. Partners can fully share an axis without sharing weight. The trick lies in the ability of the partnership to maintain the full body connection while dancing without leaning. This can be quite difficult if the follow steps from the hip, thereby "walking out of the connection." One result is that I have occasionally seen "weight sharing" taught in lieu of teaching follows how to step from the ribcage, and thus remain in the full connection without weight sharing.
  13. bafonso

    bafonso New Member

    It's an illusion. You can still be very close to your follower in open embrace. You just need to learn how.
  14. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    If you hug your spouse or boy/girl friend very closely, very tightly, even romantically, while just standing it can be CLOSE, but I'll bet you're not actually leaning on him/her. The challenge is - can you create that level of closeness and connection while dancing without leaning? The answer is a resounding yes. I'm back to the comment about dancing with a very strong forward presence into and with, but not onto, your partner. Just as with the hug in my first sentence, he/she should be able to walk away without you falling over, perhaps you'll be sad, but still not falling over.

    That's how I think of close embrace: as close as any softly, romantically enveloping hug. For me, the leaning actually creates a tiny amount of firmness in the connection which in turn creates a small feeling of emotional distance & separation. It doesn't feel as close as when the connection can be a soft melting/melding of the two of you.
  15. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I can certainly see you rpoint in this, and while the difference in where the step comes from may indeed have something to do with this, as you say, it is not the whole picture.

    I was taught in close embrace to step from the rib cage (or with use of the abs). Also, my ribcage positioning is more forward than when I am dancing open or non-weightsharing close embrace. Why? Because when I have lessons with teachers who dance the non-weightsharing close embrace, they correct my ribcage alignment backwards. Then when I have lessons with teachers who tend to share weight and I ask the same question about weight and where it goes, I am right back to rib-cage forward.

    Perhaps I am wrong, but I believe that once your rib-cage is forward enough to cause weight sharing in 3-4" heels, as Peaches said, you are SOL if you partner backs off and you would have to engage your toes.
  16. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Actually- NOT feeling that firmness in the frontal connection tends to make the leading less clear in close embrace, IMO. It may feel soft and romantic to you to dance this way, but from at least this followers perspective, actually being able to connect physically with someones solar plexus area and feel engagement in the muscles at that point actually make it much easier to feel the lead directly from that point, rather than wait for it to transmit through the rest of the body to me.

    One set of teachers we had for close embrace had us actively engaging the abs and it made such a difference in the quality of lead. Most leads don't bother engaging their abs, and use their inherently larger mass as substitute (IMO) for relaying where they are at and where they are going, whereas, once the core is engaged, and you are in full contact with it, then their presence is like a beacon, always there. IMO, you won't get that from merely touching them lightly.
  17. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    Yes. It is somewhat self-fulfilling. If an instructor wants weight sharing, he will generally move my partner's ribcage forward to create the weight sharing. However, I still contend that the connection can be at least as good, if not better, without shared weight. We are back to the softly enveloping hug.

    I think that a part of the issue is contained in the first part of your post:
    It is physically less demanding to walk from your ribcage while supported (leaning) than while unsupported (not-leaning). It may be that some follows are just not comfortable with the requirements for balance and the way they must use their legs to move without the support provided by leaning.

    And I am not saying that any techniques are 'wrong', just different. We each have our preferences and I am trying to be clear about mine without being critical of others. I mean, it is just dance we are talking about. :cool:
  18. tangonuevo

    tangonuevo New Member

    And I think I agree. If you hug your boy/girl friend very closely, very firmly, so that you can totally feel their body up against yours, you are still not leaning. I do agree that a firm muscular engagement is required by both partners. But I think that if both partners are sensitive, a total and enveloping connection between the bodies and the muscular engagement are what are required to create a clear and comfortable lead, not the leaning. BTW - for me, being soft and enveloping is very different from lightly or barely touching.

    For me, the tension created by leaning/countering a lean reduces my sensitivity to my partner. It also makes it much more difficult for me to really know where her axis is and even which foot she is on.
  19. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I would contend that they are equally good--the connection can be equally good, the leading/following can be equally good, they can be equally comfortable--if they are both done equally well.

    Preferring one style over another seems to lead people to practice/study/focus on one style over another, which can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. "I don't like it because it's uncomfortable, so I don't study it." And then not studying it means you never get better and never learn to make it comfortable.

    *shrug* IMHO.
  20. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I think I may understand now what you may mean by "leaning", and that can certainly be counterproductive.

    However, one other way people describe (or misinterpret) lean is when the follow attempts to dance with ribcage forward while the leader does not. This almost invariably ends up being called "lean" by the leader, when in fact, at least I don't consider it "lean" in the sense of moving you body forward and resting on you partner with no personal support. But ribs forwards while dancing with someone who is ribs back does create a sense of "weight" to a lead and when the techniques each are using are mismatched and neither of them can sense the need to make a change forward (for the leader) or backward (for the follow) we usually end up in discussions of "ladies who lean", when in fact, they are just using a different technique.

    I guess what i am saying is that a lot of leads seem to misinterpret the ribs forward as lean, when in fact it is something different, though it does IMO, require a similar mirroring of weight placement from the leader to make it work right (or you are SOL) just as ribs back needs to be mirrored by both partners to work well.

    Peaches is also right that the less we study something (because we don't find it comfortable) the less we understand and are likely to ever make it comfortable.

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