12mins in the arms of a stranger..!

Story | Opinion | Chrisa Assis | 9 Nov 2016 | 0 comments

Have you gotten off the dancefloor feeling frustrated?
Wondering where did all the good dancers go? Or why they are not dancing with you?
Do ever get off the dancefloor mumbling: “Oh my back!”, “My arm too!!!”
Thinking: “She is such a heavy follower..!” Or “ When is he going to stop pushing and pulling people around on the dancefloor”
Do you remember the day you told your friends you are learning Tango?
Did you notice their reaction?
You probably said: “I am learning Argentine Tango” and they probably said: “Oh! The dance of PAsssssion!”
And you can see from the way they look at you, that they are thinking:

Photo credit: Un Milonguero Mejicano via Foter.com / CC BY
It definitely doesn’t feel this way now, DOES IT?
They were right though, there is a sensuality in Tango, or maybe better said an intimacy. Think about it…
How many times in your everyday life do you hug strangers and hold them tight in your arms for 12mins?
Actually…When do you hug ANYONE — friend or foe — and hold them tight in your arms for 12mins?
Yes…Right! Hmm…like…NEVER!
Everyone tells you: “Oh! This is what Tango is all about. Getting into a close embrace, feeling each other’s body, feel your partner’s every inhale and exhale and every heart beat” (…are we still talking about Tango here? haha)
Uuuum! Awkward!
Maybe that is actually the problem. Yes of course, there are always issues of technique, and as we work on them of course we are going to be getting better.
But don’t you think, that the more comfortable you feel with your partner the better your dance will be?
Being able to be intimate with your partner on the dancefloor, will give you a full, a deeper Tango experience!
To be honest I hadn’t thought about all this myself…until, recently, in a practica while I was dancing with an Argentinian visiting — instructor, I had one of those moments, where you see yourself from the outside…Have you had any of those..?
When you see yourself dancing, and you check you out? hah
You get your checklist out and you start to analyze how the tanda went, because even though everything technically was ok, something was off? My milonga analytics were hard at work!
A few days later, I am dancing another tanda, with the same teacher.
The tanda ends and he says: “This time you allowed me to embrace you!”
What!?!? Or Excuse me!?!? Or What?

Think of his words: “ You ALLOWED me to embrace you!”

But OF COURSE…(then connecting the dots…)
Sebastian Achaval had once said: “As a leader you need to create the space for the lady, as a follower you need to engage to that space”

Paolo Coelho in Aleph has described it beautifully: “An embrace means: I don’t feel threatened by you; I’m not afraid to be this close; I can relax, feel at home, feel protected and in the presence of someone who understands me. (…)”

Counterintuitive? Scary? Taboo? Or simply Tango?
And so I got straight into working this one out!
Here a few simple, yet profoundly powerful tweaks I followed during my dances and practices, that bring great results, and you can start using them during your next milonga

  • For leaders and followers
    Your dance is not starting when you start moving on the dancefloor. Your dance starts before you even embrace your partner.
    Make the posture, the frame and the embrace part of your dance experience.
    Before you get into the embrace, start a dance within you!
    As you are facing your partner, allow the music to seep into your body, and from within, from the heart, the lungs, the kidneys start creating your posture.
    Take a deep breath, open up the lungs. You exhale allowing the back muscles to relax towards the floor and you take your heart towards your partner. Make your kidneys define the middle section of your body, and by activating the back of your legs, press your heels to the floor and define the position of your hips.
    Then reach to your partner!
  • For the leaders
    This one is on you leaders, because you are the ones to get the couple moving on the dancefloor.
    After you embrace, take a few seconds to just relax in the embrace of your partner, and feel your partner relaxing in your embrace as well!
    Adjust if you need too. Allow your partner to adjust as well. And when you are ready, then start dancing!
    If in the beginning, you are feeling awkward…GREAT!
    Remember this is not something you do everyday, it is different, it is special, some level of awkwardness is expected, allowed and interesting too.
    You keep at it and you will get the comfort you have been missing, a feeling of true closeness, a smoothness in the embrace, plus the opportunity to find out what the embrace IS for YOU.
  • For the followers
    Tango is a very gentleman- like dance, meaning if you, through the embrace, are pushing him away, if you are avoiding him — with or without realizing it — nothing we mentioned above will work.
    People think of Tango as a very macho type of dance, but I think it is the opposite.
    Followers, need to ALLOW the leader to embrace them! Not in technical terms but in bodily terms.
    First place to focus on is the sternum. Keep the sternum up and open. Allow your shoulders to relax back — DON’T pull them back — lift the sternum for the shoulders to relax, and consider this…We are not dancing chest — to chest we are dancing centre to centre!
  • For couples
    If you are lucky enough to have a dance partner to practice with, include this drill into your practice.
    Before you start dancing, hug each other and stay into that hug for as long as you can, without creating tension.
    Hug, like you would hug a dear friend you haven’t seen for ages, and stay in each other’s arms as long as you can.
    Time yourselves! See how long you can last, and try to keep practicing on this getting more and more comfortable BEING in that hug.

Have fun! And send me your thoughts and let me know how it goes!
P.S: Being introvert is creating trouble to your Tango? Here is an article that might help you get passed the embrace — block and who knows maybe reevaluate the situation, I know it helped me! http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/09/25/opinion/sunday/am-i-introverted-or-just-rude.html?ref=opinion&_r=2&referer=
Originally published for www.bautanz.com


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Published: 9 Nov 2016 @ 14:22


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