The tango embrace is one of the most defining features of the Argentine tango. If the tango is anything, it is an embrace- a hug. It is a way of being accepted, acknowledged and connected in the dance. Many dancers focus their attention on footwork when they dance tango but the embrace, in my opinion, is more important. It can be lovely do dance tango with very few steps but it is not lovely to dance tango in an embrace that is not working.
There are a few different types of embraces in the Argentine tango. The embrace will also differ slightly according to the relative heights of the couples and the shape of the dancers' bodies. I teach an embrace that is in a V-shape, with the closed side of the V on the side of the shoulders. I like it because I find it most comfortable and it allows the woman more rotation of her hips than if both sides of the chest are making equal contact with her partner.
Here are some tips on the tango embrace that should make your tango experience delightful.
1. The embrace should be circular. The leader determines the shape of the embrace. Leaders - avoid temptation to press your hands inwards as this negatively affects the womans abiity to connect her arm with muscles in her back that she needs to use.
2. I like the sliding embrace - this allows the mans right arm to be in permanent contact with his partners back without stopping her movement when trying to rotate. Leaders- try not to grip the womans back with your right hand while you are dancing. Rather let it slide slightly on her back while she is rotating.
3.. Leaders and followers - keep your embracing arm in constant contact with your partner, even if you are opening the embrace. Some people like to lift up their arm at points in the dance but I think this leads to loss of connection and communication, especially if you are in motion.
4.. Leaders - you should stand straight up in your embrace. If you are tall, the woman should accommodate herself to suit your body. She may do this by adjusting her left arm. If you stoop to be closer to your partner, your movement is less efficient and your shoulders are putting pressure downwards.
5. Leaders and followers- avoid temptations to lift your shoulders. Shoulders should always be relaxed.
6. Leaders- take care of the pressure that you are exerting forwards and muscles in the front of your arm. It is difficult to dance if this pressure is too much. The power in your embrace should rather come from your triceps (muscles under your arm) and where they connect with the muscles in your back.
Whew!!! Anyone for a hug?