And it is the season for hugging! (If you haven’t been getting your daily doses!) And those who have been dancing awhile know that hugging, “El Abrazo”, is what makes Argentine Tango so wonderful!
Hugs have been proven to help lower our blood pressure, release the feel good hormone oxytocin, and make us feel better in general.
Just in time for the holiday season I am doing a workshop on just that! Hosted by Austin Corazon Tanguero’s Paola and Stephen I will be conducting a workshop specifically on the Embrace for Argentine Tango.
I enjoy teaching about the embrace and recall hearing that my students always had the yummiest embraces!
Through my travels I have found that the embrace seems to be the thing that hangs people up the most. We are taught to embrace a certain way and then find that maybe our dancing doesn’t work out so well. Or we defend our “embrace position” even though certain movements don’t function OR very often the top thing I encounter is that we are in pain…. Why? Just embrace my darlings! OR
About a year ago I found myself at a festival, being introduced to another dancer from somewhere down south (and to protect his identity we’ll keep it like that!). And this introduction had the implication that we would dance at some point that evening. The pressure was on then… This always makes me a little uneasy. He was introduced to me, he didn’t choose me and I didn’t choose him either! What if he really didn’t want to dance with me at all? I didn’t get to see him dance. Dancing with someone new is part of what tango is all about but an introduction can sometimes backfire as there is a feeling of pressure on both parts.
Little did I know that this person would set a precedence for tango dances to come.
So the time came for us to dance. I don’t remember whether in the end it was a cabeceo or we were just at the right place at the right time at the same time but however it went, we headed to the dance floor. I stood in front of this partner, and as we waited for the music to begin there was little of the usual chit chat. The music began, he placed both of his hands gently and firmly on my ribs, and he waited, listening intently to the music or maybe to my heart that began racing in anticipation. His slow approach into the embrace transported me to memories of watching a black and white movie and scoffing at the idea that women actually swooned. I think I could have swooned in that moment from the anticipation and the excitement of this preclude. From his hands on my ribs his right arm continued its journey along my back and his left arm found my right arm hanging by my side as he gradually passed his hand along my forearm until he found my hand in his. Next thing I knew we were embracing and moving together in this passionate dance that was reignited for me in that moment.
Phew! just thinking about it makes me long for that focus-filled attentive embrace again.
How do you embrace? Are you anxious to jump into someone’s arms? Do you miss out on the WHOLE experience? And incidentally he is one of my most favorite dancers and a delicious embrace like that helps his rankings!
As I am feverishly preparing for my upcoming TEDx talk on November 11th. Who would have thought it could be so stressful to talk about something I do every day and have been doing for more than 10 years? How do you explain the magic and the transformative nature of Argentine Tango to someone who has no clue what tango is or maybe not even understand what dance is?
I have been going through the recesses of my mind digging up my own personal tango history. Recalling stories that have been told to me about how other people’s lives have changed for tango or because of tango. So many corporate jobs have been left, apartments have been bought in Buenos Aires, books written, loves lost and won, all because of tango.
So as I keep writing I came across an article about how hugging women can help lower their blood pressure and therefore possibly reduce their risk of heart disease. Women showed a higher response to hugging than men. The body is known to release oxytocin, known as the bonding hormone, and with hugging, cortisol (stress hormone) levels were reduced as well. And you know where this is going…..
No wonder so many of us get blissed out from dancing tango. All that hugging! In the study the hugging lasted only 20 seconds. What ecstasy that in tango we hug at least for 3 minutes!
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
Access Tango through Daniela Borgialli's website for information about Argentine Tango classes as well as suggestions, ideas, feedback and advice relating to Argentine Tango as a social dance and a universal phenomenon.