There are as many ways to feel and express the tango music as there are dancers. A subtly distinct lead-follow technique is used in close-embrace style and in general there is a more rhythmic expression of music. The improvisations are more private to the dancers and less visible to others.
Close embrace tango should be differentiated from dancing while being physically close. Other acceptable terms for close-embrace style are ‘club style’ or ‘milonguero’, but I would refrain from using the term ‘milonguero’ as a substitute for ‘close embrace’, since the term invokes an entire slew of connotations, including the lifestyle, and its exact meaning is much more subjective.
A shared listening and expression of all the emotions in the music is or should be a common aspect of all improvised social partner dances including tango. The essence of close-embrace tango for me is a combination of human embrace and a stillness in motion where the embrace and music are enjoyed with the least intrusions to reach an almost meditative state of mind.
"The essence of close-embrace tango for me is a combination of human embrace and a stillness in motion where the embrace and music are enjoyed with the least intrusions to reach an almost meditative state of mind."
In this chapter we will go through the tools that will facilitate reaching to this essence. The two most important things in tango of any style are connection and musicality. However, the exact definition of connection and musicality depends on the particular style and the individual dancer. We will take you through various exercises to improve the close-embrace connection and also to experience the special rhythmic nature of this style.
The close embrace style evolved out of a need to dance in small overly crowded spaces. Accordingly, the particular movements have evolved to take less and less space – frequently no more than your own space. Apart from walking and rhythm exercises, we will also introduce you to ocho cortado (cut-ocho) - undoubtedly the most frequent ‘move’ in this style, as well as tools to stay in place to cope with the traffic jams – frequent in crowded milongas.
Musicality: Music is much more than the beats, a fact that is often forgotten. Music is rhythm, melody, harmony as well as the poetry and all complex emotions carried in a human voice. The ultimate aim is to be mindful to all these facets of music and in fact to ‘dance’ to all of them. However we will restrict ourselves only to the rhythm for the following discussions.