September 10, 2009

Close Embrace and Open Embrace (III)

The feeling of dancing close embrace is very different from that of dancing open embrace. When two partners are in a close embrace, the male leader feels his female follower’s soft, springy, flexible and responsive body. She surrenders herself to him, melting in his embrace and becoming an obedient part of him. Whatever he does, she follows wholeheartedly. As he leads her dancing, her body twists to his left and right, her breasts rub his chest, her thigh touches his thigh, her muscles relax and tense, and her whole body adapts ingeniously and femininely to his changing posture... All these generate a very pleasant feeling and sensation. He feels a real flesh-and-blood woman. He enjoys her company. The beauty of her body and her femininity excite him. He enjoys that moment being with her because only she as a woman can stir the feelings within him that make him a man, strong, in charge, protective, and dependable, just as only he as a man can stir within her the feelings that she enjoys as a woman. His masculinity, strength, support and protection let her feel safe, loved, and beautiful. In his embrace she returns to her womanhood and childhood again. Only in that moment she can truly feel and enjoy being a woman, as in real life she has to be less. Tango is known as a refuge, and it has to be danced between a man and a woman to have that effect. When tango is danced by men or women alone, something mysterious and magic is missing, and that to me is anti tango. I know some may argue with me about this. But, hey, that’s me. I like women and enjoy a dance that contains the beauty of both masculinity and femininity.

But that is not all. If close embrace is physical and sensual, then it is also romantic and poetic. No one has described this aspect better than Eugene Grigoryev in his essay What Is Tango? I want to quote the essay in its entirety here because I cannot say it better than Eugene, and the description of close embrace would not be complete without a depiction of this inward, heavenly, dreamy and soulful feeling. The following is the entire quote of Eugene’s masterpiece.

“Tango is more than just a dance or a sequence of steps. It is an expression of our emotions, an inner reflection of who we are and what we experience, a way to channel what we feel through movement. Tango is a language of expressing what we feel through motion, stirred in us by music, in unison with our partner. It comes into your lives in many different ways, as simple interest, a hobby, or a fascination… and ever so slowly it becomes an addiction.

A simple look, a gesture, a smile, an eye contact, his askance to lead, her acceptance to be led, all done without any need of verbal communication. As the music compels them, she comes close to him, they embrace… they feel each other breathe, they feel the passionate song unfold, it flows through their bodies, invigorating them, stirring emotions, which they both share… they can be strangers in real life, but as long as they are in this tango moment, they can be anyone they want… You don't have to know the person or even want to know them. Time ceases to exist during this moment, both dancers are moving to the music, listening for it to tell them what to do… they slow down, pause, accelerate, suspend, all in the moment… almost as being possessed by the music. Outside of this moment is the real world, with its everyday problems, solutions, responsibilities, deadlines… but not here, not now… Now it is only tango, a refuge, a moment of surreal experience of desire, longing… words are not meant to describe it.

The social aspect of milonga is fascinating. It holds anticipation, surprise, heavenly music, moments of contact and separation. The challenge and satisfaction of rhythmically moving in unison with another person is what lures us to Tango. The experience is both physical and surreal. In three minutes of a song, you can experience a rollercoaster of emotions, but you will not experience them alone. For those three minutes there will be a person embracing you, sharing what they are feeling with you… all without a single word being spoken… pure, raw emotions expressed through motion.”