“El Abrazo” – student’s reflection

Some of you may know that by teaching at the University I often have between 40 – 80 students per semester in my tango classes.  I teach 2 levels of Tango at Arizona State University. They are both credit courses which means I have a curriculum and grading.  I have wanted to post some of the great things my students do and say as part of this blog and so I start today with the following post.  I often ask my students to discuss different Tango aspects and / or concepts.  Here is one response from this semester, regarding the embrace:

The Argentine Tango embrace is the most caring embrace. So many things are happening in the embrace. Starting with the leader holding the hand of the follower. So many places in society we see people holding hands. Mothers and Fathers holding their child’s hand, protecting them, guiding them, and showing them the world; lovers holding hands while they walk so that they may express their feelings for each other without words. Then there are friends who hold hands in excitement, joy, fear, and to offer support during hard times. Holding hands offers the dancers more than just a place to put their free hands it gives the pair support, guidance, and protection. Then there are the arms around the back. The leader supporting the follower while the follower reciprocates the act. The hug is more than a greeting or show of emotion. It is everything the handholding is but with the added physical, and mental support. There are many reasons people hug because it can heal a lot more than a band-aid can. A hug between two people says, "I am listening." In the embrace it offers the partners the ability to listen to each other and then begin dancing.
The embrace is to Argentine Tango as the plie is to ballet. Without the plie the dancer isn’t going anywhere. In fact without the plie the dancer will get injured and isn’t able to support the move to come. In just the same way, without the embrace the dancers are not going anywhere and the next move to come won’t be supported.
Thus the embrace, in Argentine Tango, is the most caring embrace. The embrace is better than a hug because it offers the pair more than just a handhold and more than what a hug can offer. The embrace offers the pair, both a hand hold, a hug, and the support from each other to move into the next step.
Kathleen Fall 09