In many other styles, there is a tendency to make the embrace asymmetric, that is, there is contact only between right part of leader’s torso and left part of follower’s torso. Try to avoid this and keep the embrace as symmetric as possible. Remember, a hug is not asymmetric.
- Step 1. Stand upright very close to your partner with chest forward and with both hands wrapped around each other – gently but firmly with full extension of the arms. Your head should be to the left of the partner’s head, comfortable. Leaders, look straight ahead, regardless of the partner’s height. Feel a firm pressure between torsos.
- Step 2. Unwrap your arms without changing anything else. Let your arms hang on the sides with relaxed shoulders. To compensate for the arms you have to be more mindful of the forward presence of your torsos. It is not really ‘pushing’ forward but a solid presence. Imagine the forward energy emanating from your back instead of the chest. This will improve the embrace. Also remember the grounding energy from your navel.
"Imagine the forward energy emanating from your back instead of the chest. This will improve the embrace"
- Step 3. Without lifting your feet, start inching backward very slowly, both partners at the same time as far back as comfortable for your body. This gives the space for your legs to move while in close embrace.
- Step 4. Leader’s left and follower’s right hands should meet comfortably between the two at the follower’s ear level, both bearing the weight of their own arm. Leader should wrap the right arm gently and firmly around the follower with maximum possible extension. Follower’s left arm, extended should fall around leader’s shoulder behind the neck. Do not pull down.
Note to Followers. There is absolutely no need for contact between follower’s left arm and leader’s right arm as is the case in open style tango. Doing this only breaks the connection in close-embrace style, which is between torsos. Extend your spine as much as possible and relax your left arm around the leaders neck.
"Remember, a hug is not asymmetric."
Note to Leaders: The right arm is there mostly to maintain the embrace during turns etc. and is used to ‘lead’ only the ‘check’ steps or ‘cadencia’ when you want to indicate a stop in the forward motion and this should be done gently and early to avoid being forceful. Only ‘lead’ with your body. Having said that, every part of your body can be used for embellishment and expressing musicality, including the right arm and the eyes. We will however not talk about this in this course.
Note on height difference: There is always a slight discomfort in dancing with too short or too tall a partner. The exact center of energy in your torso needs to be slightly adjusted depending on the relative heights. But the general principle remains. Never bend down to accommodate for a shorter partner, that is, do not break your spine. You can become slightly shorter while keeping your spine stretched by ‘sinking’ your torso a bit in place. This is a complicated thing to describe in writing and if it is not clear, stick with the general rules described above.
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