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Here is a wonderful video by Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes on the tango embrace.
Wonderful explanation of the tango embrace. Students of ours will recognize almost all of these explanations.. such as the idea that you don't take the embrace and then begin dancing, taking the embrace is part of the dance.
I just had someone ask me yesterday about when you take the embrace do you start with the open side or the close(d) side. First I respond to the woman. If she lifts her left arm and not her right, then I start with the close side (and vice versa). If she waits for me to initiate the embrace, then I will usually lift my left arm, so starting with the close side. Then, of course, I would expect her to lift her left arm so that we can take the embrace on the close side. Notice Sebastian do this at 6.33 of the video. BUT there are many nice ways to take the embrace at 6.22 he takes both sides of the embrace at the same time.
After a class with them in Baltimore a few years ago, I made significant changes to my embrace which have worked very well for me. The main one being not bringing my right shoulder forward in the embrace. I attempt to keep my chest very flat. Many leaders reach way around the follower with their right arm, bringing their right shoulder forward, and thus they end up leading with their right shoulder rather than with their center. As he says in the video, I bring my right hand around her and try to position my right hand in front of my spine. If we are leading from the center instead of from one side or the other then the lead will be very clear.
The Structure of Tango
Part I: Cross Steps and Open Steps
Click Here to Download PDF of Full Class Notes
Introduction: At the end of this class, you will find that no matter which foot you are on or what system (Parallel or Cross) you are in that you will always have at least 9 steps that you can execute.
In Tango classes, teachers often teach figures or patterns. These can be fun and give students something to do when dancing. I think of figures as sentences and all the figures that we do during a song as paragraphs. In this class, we are taking a step back and looking at each and every step we take as a word. And each of those steps will have a beginning, middle, and end. Our goal is to make every single step that we take in tango count.
There are 3 basic steps of tango: the Open Step, the Forward Cross, and the Back Cross.
A Cross Step is defined by the orientation of the man and woman to each other. Whenever a couple takes a step, if they both stop in the middle of their step and turn (pivot) so that their hips face one another and their legs are crossed (twisted) then they are taking a cross step. If their legs are not crossed then they are taking an open step.
Cross steps can move in only two directions forward and back, but Open steps can forward, side, and backwards. In fact, Open steps have a 180 degree range of movement.
At any moment in the dance, both the man and the woman have these 3 steps available to them and when you combine these possibilities in both Parallel and Cross Systems starting on either foot you end up with 36 possible steps.