About Embellishments

Many of you have heard me speak about embellishments and most followers are dying to figure out how to include them in their dancing. Followers Embellishments 1My experience is that leaders take their time in their excitement to learn these. (Maybe because they are called embellishments!) Sometimes there’s confusion as to what is an embellishment and what’s a led movement.

Recently I was pointed to an article on embellishments that I will reference here, another blog with insights from tango maestra, Olga Besio.  I particularly like this article as it paints a beautiful picture of the notion behind embellishments and it is a very holistic approach to embellishing which I think we can all strive for. In the meantime…..

I find that often students ask how to embellish. We see other dancers embellish and we remark on the expressiveness of the embellishment. And possibly even notice it as a movement that looks independent of the dance, as if all you see is the embellishment. My preference would be that I don’t notice the embellishment as a separate entity from the dance but that it appears to belong there in the meaningful exchange between leader and follower.

In the sited blog the embellishment is spoken about as an emerging expression from an understanding of the dance as a dialog and I totally agree. But I also understand the beginner follower’s desire to explore the possibilities.

With my students (in the US) I experience followers (more than the leaders) who want to embellish sooner rather than later or they are Followers Embellishments 2nervous or even fear trying to tackle adornos, as they are also called. I realize that the blog article doesn’t promote followers copying or having leaders wait for a follower to embellish, however, as a teaching tool, I think it is helpful for followers (and leaders) to model the behavior of possibilities. I am known to encourage followers to watch others and experiment with ideas to create their own toolbox of embellishments. I also think that with practice and with awareness through our growth in the dance we begin to fully understand how an embellishment can emerge from our bodies as a result of listening to our partner and the music. What magic to see an adorno materialize from dancers as a reflection of the music, their communication and their passion.

Most commonly teachers refer to embellishments as something to be done only with the feet and the legs. Many teachers also encourage them to include any part of the body. I recall dancing with a follower who had quite a repertoire of body embellishments. She wiggled and wagged and swam in my arms for an entire tanda. I found it quite distracting at the time. Who knows what she thought of my leading but my experience was that I was letting her have a monologue of expression as opposed to a dialog. Maybe I missed out or maybe we just chose to express and share differently.

What do you think of embellishments?

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