Category Archives: embrace

The embrace – a place to yield to!

In this week’s Live tango practice, we worked on the suspension created in the embrace. It was an attempt to connect the dots, between the message received through the hands/ arms and the action taken from legs.

Taking the time to yield

I wanted to take the opportunity to explain a bit more in depth the element of suspension, pulse and yielding. These are all words used during this practice and sometimes words don’t communicate in the best of ways what we can communicate through movement.

Let’s start from the latter, yielding, because if we don’t yield we can’t efficiently suspend and create a pulse.
Yielding shouldn’t be confused with relaxing or letting go. We are reaching for the ground, the sky, our partner prior to taking action. In that state we are ready to act, but we have already established our connection, our support.

It is that connection and support that we don’t want to loose while moving. Instead we want to carry it along with us as we go.
And so the lead and follow shouldn’t be described as press and resist, but more as a coming together, as supporting each other. Therefore the frame needs to be elastic, and absorbent without collapsing though. It is that elasticity, that spring that transfers the message through the arms to the body while keeping us connected.

It is in our anatomy

All of this we see it supported by the human anatomy. Even in the most solid element of our body, the bones, there is moisture, there is fluid and elasticity. One of the contractions our muscles create is actually the elastic recoil. Our breathing has a pulse, a spring in it.
We have experience from yielding to the earth, feeling grounded, secure, calm and confident before acting. Or when we immerse ourselves in a conversation with a dear friend where there is a continuous effortless connection. 
We also have experience of things not happening not efficiently. When we try to lift something without the necessary preparation. Or when we are angry and our movement becomes rigid and out of our control. Also, when we are stressed and not breathing properly.

So we have the experience of yielding, connecting and elasticity. It is indeed  in a different context but we still there for us. We can be further explore through Tango and all other dance forms and movement practices.

Leading and Following through the arms

Speaking in Tango terms, I would encourage you to think and practice leading/ following through the arms and not with the arms.

And though it is not easy to explore partnership alone, it is essential. Practicing on your own, allows you to spend time experiencing your body moving and allowing for that experience to inform your knowing. 
In parallel practicing with a partner is equally important. It has to be though someone who is honest and able to share with you their experience. Still though that doesn’t undermine the importance of your personal practice. 
If you don’t spent time self-exploring you can’t have a discussion with your partner, you simply adjust to satisfy them. In order to progress, you need to be able to build on solid grounds, grounds of understanding and awareness. Then you can make conscious decisions on how to progress instead of adjustments on the spot. 

More resources below… 😉

So if I have inspired you to further explore the embrace here are some extra videos to do so:

  1. Finding the embrace:
  2. The power game in the embrace:
  3. Suspension in the embrace:
  4. And if you would like to see more live practices visit this page:


Embrace-Go beyond the push and pull

The embrace is where Tango lives… In all practical ways the Tango is created within and through the embrace.

There is a lot Do(s) and Don’t(s) out there on the embrace, so I was hoping to create more of an opportunity for everyone to explore the different body parts that form the embrace, and bring forward more experiential knowledge than Tango-specific advice

Relationship of the Individual Fingers with the Shoulder Girdle and Ribs

Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen of Body Mind Centering

In this video Bonnie, founder of Body Mind Centering ( talks about the process of creation and specifically how are hands are created from the pinky to the thumb while at the same time our ribs are formed from top to bottom. She then goes on to explore that relationship.

When I first came across the video, I found it fascinating! It completely changed my understanding of my body in space and my relationships with others.
Everyday we reach and touch with our hands, almost everything around us; multiple times a day we are making a choice whether this touch may or may not be reflected in our posture, our movement, our mood.

Leading and following is what we call these very choices in Tango. In the following video using the exercise Bonnie shared above and adding walks and ochos I am inviting you explore the movement chain through the embrace

This was a…bad…experience

Bad experiences… moments we have sworn never to dance with THAT person again… pain, discomfort, frustration… Yes, I know…some memories can be haunting! We now though have a chance to fix it; or some of it

First, we need to understand where the pain and the discomfort we experience in the embrace comes from; and then hopefully though this video you will know how to avoid putting yourself in unsafe positions and how to mitigate the impact of an improper action coming from your partner

Seeing the big picture of the hug

So the videos above will help you immensely in acknowledging dangerous positions and finding healthier ones for the joints. Also, it will help you recover faster if you are experiencing pain or discomfort after a milonga

What though doesn’t recover as fast as the body–and we know that can be rather slow–is our psychology.
I as many other followers have fallen in the trap of avoiding to dance with anyone new because I didn’t want to risk another sore shoulder or back.
it took a long time before I could trust what my eyes could see, in terms of who is a partner who will “listen” to subtle body cues and adjust his/her position.
So, the issue here is not to simply find the right embrace for you BUT to find the way to be flexible and adjust your position to help yourself and/or your partner. Usually the necessary adjustment is very subtle but it seems huge
The feeling of relief though when you find that sweet spot where your embrace is genuine and your movement is free it is even greater!

Trust your body to find it!


P.S: For more videos such as this, on weekly subscribe to and if you want to organize your own practice at home at your own time maybe you would like to take a look at this:

Tango connection–a way to practice it without getting frustrated

Connection in Tango is the #1 thing every dancer, leader or follower, is looking for in every dance.

They feel that the connection in Tango is special, compared to other partner dances, and honestly I feel the same way…
Personally I find it to be a more internal matter, something that somehow speaks through our blood… Compared to other dances that it is more external, more reaching outward in some way…

Does this sound crazy..?

Practicing connection is not as easy as it sounds..!

Crazy or not, I think that because of this internalization dancing and more so practicing can get really frustrating when things are not working out.

Even today’s video is end product of a long “discussion” within the Bautanz community, which started from this video of the great Tango master, Carlos Gavito which brought back some really hurtful memories to some of my students.

The strangest thing though is that Gavitio in this video describes the intimacy of Tango. How special it is to share movement and space with someone through Tango. He describes the touch, the head, the eye contact, the secret dialog between the two partners, which relies on active listening.

And despite all that… the shape of his embrace brought back memories of pain.

Is there really a way to practice connection without getting frustrated?

I don’t want to support my students or followers, but I have to say that I myself have danced with dancers who just copied the shape of Gavito’s embrace and took care of nothing else, resulting to a very hurtful experience.

But I also have to say that I have been in dances where my partner used this very hand hold to make our dance flow better. We shouldn’t therefore assume that it is the hold that destroys the magic, but mostly us, and our level of awareness and listening.

And this is what I wanted to achieve with this video… To find a safe, fun way for us to practice the different forces that go in an embrace and find ways to efficiently respond to them.

I hope you will enjoy it!


P.S: If you are thinking: “Hey! I want to see the previous videos too…” Then subscribe! Join us at and get the full embrace combo and much much more




Dancing and the fear of shame

Dance like nobody is watching

What are your thoughts on this overused phrase..?

  • Absolutely agree, you have to be yourself on the dance floor
  • Yeah right!
  • This is probably how advanced dancers feel
  • All of the above

I personally think, it is baloney!

Even as an advanced dancer you are fully engaging with the people around you. Not because you feel that they are judging you but because you are all sharing that moment

How many times haven’t you left a milonga thinking: “well I had some really good dances but the energy in that place is just sooooo unwelcoming?”
Or think of the last time you went to a concert, for example, and the audience was just sooo out of it, how it dragged your energy down too. Compared to a concert where the audience was feeling it, it was part of the action, and you just couldn’t stop singing!

The truth is it makes a huge difference if you surround yourself with positive, active, passionate people, compared to negative, passive people.

What we can’t confess to ourselves is what is keeping us back

The biggest problem with that phrase is that it is used to cover up a rather big problem… FEAR OF SHAME

The fear of making a mistake in front of everybody.
Looking stupid, incompetent or unable.
Afraid of taking a risk just in case it doesn’t work and you make a fool of yourself in front of everyone!

I was at the OACCPP conference last Friday presenting Transformative Tango with Carolyn Dallman Downes. Very exciting day during which I learned so much, one phrase though sparked the idea for this article: “shame leads to disconnection and disconnection leads to shame“.

You have probably heard leaders say things like: “I am not able to follow what the teacher says, I look like a fool there

Or followers saying: “Oh my God! How terrible did that look? We almost fell 3 times

Or having one or the other partner with this expression on their face:


While thinking: “You are killing my groove! You are making me look like an idiot!”

(If you are in the last category and you are thinking that the smile at the end will save the day…eeeeh Think again! People can tell! Hahaha)

What to do about it…
Step 1: Accept that people’s opinion matters!

Is it such terrible thing to admit?
A milonga is a social event, it is like a little town, where everyone sees and knows everything!

It doesn’t mean that their opinion will necessarily change the way you dance or your choices on the dance floor but before you say: “ I don’t care what anybody thinks” be ready to back it up with actions…or admit that you actually do care.

Step 2: Deeply get to know your community.

What usually happens is that we waste time trying to fight our fears staying away from milongas…BUT this only makes things worse! It just makes the monster bigger!

Instead, go to the milongas with intention to study them, to understand the community you are about to enter and not only to dance.

Step 3: Focus a big part of your practice on improvising. Instead of practising routines that don’t work on the dance floor.

Now you can understand how important the  a previous step… You need to know the dance floor and the dancers of your community, to know what kind of moves fit best.  Here are a few ideas that will fit perfectly on any dancer floor

Step4: Followers–though this is something leaders should think about too–really embrace.

Dance is not action-reaction, it is offer, absorb, create movement and give back.

You need to hold your partner. Really hug and that involves your arms and hands.
Especially connecting in the hands, is essential, because there are so many nerves ending in the hands, in the finger tips, if you practice on taking your mind to the hands, you will see, you will become more sensitive towards understanding your partner.
You will get a quick image of how they are feeling at that moment.
Are they comfortable? Are they tensed? Do they have a shoulder problem? Are they going by the book or are they a bit more open to exploration.
It is pity leaving your hands out of the dance. Engage and you will know your partner before you take one step on the dance floor.

Why am I referring to followers?

Simply because worldly accepting to dance with someone is not enough. You have to let them know through body language as well, that you are there to dance with them and you are fully commiting to the dance.

Step5: Leave your ego at the door.

The ego-dog at his own door is like a lion” Rumi, “Little book of Life”

Get into the embrace coming from a respectful caring place.
Come into the milongas with the intention to have fun, to meet new people, to share at least one smile with someone outside your group.
Look at the dance floor seeing only the beauty of communication.
Be on the dance floor with the intention to create and share something from your heart.

You might read these words and think… Yeah yeah, I still remember that time when… ENOUGH!

When we create a safe place people bloom. People express themselves, share. Mistakes become beautiful surprises. Risks become thrilling experimentation.

Steps on a beat become DANCE.

This is an excellent example of the work we do in Intelligent Tango

Tango embrace–Are you keeping your end of the deal?

When someone like Gary Vee goes Live on Instagram this happens:

3144 people watching…and comments like: “Sorry but Gary crushes Tai. He is not selling you any packages. He is giving you all this for free”

When I do it… I get my best friend sending me  little hearts and saying: “Ooooh! Nice hair..!

Clearly, there is a lot of work to be done..! hahaha

I still though got to chat with people about Tango, the embrace, what makes a good dance for them and how they know that the other person is enjoying the tanda with them…

How does magic feel like to you?

Here are some responses that I found interesting:

“It feels like falling in love”
“You are dancing and you feel you can trust the other person”
“I know from the first step. If they are moving with me. If there is motion, breath in the body instead of their body being silent, stiff.”

Now the question is how can you become THAT person?

I was trying to find good ways to ensure that when I go on the dance floor I can be THAT dancer. I can offer an embrace, a connection like the described above… This is what came up with…
FB LIVE Practice on Connection

Now your turn…
Please don’t tell me you just show up in a milonga, dance only with your friends and then walk out because that is just depressing…

So how can you become the dancer other dancers trust.?
How would you go from a stiff and silent to a vibrant and active embrace?
And how can you fully engage in your dance without being over the top and all over the place and if so how do you that?

Leave me a comment below, I want to hear what you are doing to become THAT dancer!






Intelligent Tango–Posture and the element of the embrace

And so we have been chatting about posture and as we all know that chat never ends…NEVER! haha
So I won’t break such important traditions, instead I will keep on chatting on posture but this time through the embrace!

“The frame might have rules but the embrace is yours..!” Sebastian Arce

This is the beauty of Tango, so many rules that can be broken from within from anyone willing to get past the intimacy boundary and explore him/herself a bit further while in a partnership.

The embrace is the first place that you start to see such a differentiation. People getting a bit more expressive, slightly changing the embrace depending on the partner they are dancing with or the song or their mood. And they are still dancing Tango, or better NOW they are really dancing Tango.

I heard that phrase from the great Sebastian Arce back in 2015 but it took some time for me to wrap my mind and body around those words.
I was working so hard to make the rules fit my body that when I danced my ego wouldn’t let go…
“Don’t you dare leave this posture… After 2 hours a day of practice YOU are NOT letting go!” Chrisa’s Ego


After some time though I missed feeling free, I missed moving. And that was when I started practicing on experience, on how things feel, and not on how they are supposed to look or feel.

After a couple of months I danced with a friend I hadn’t danced in a long time. I found myself enjoying our dance so much and avoiding the discomfort his habits caused me in the past, by allowing his embrace to affect my embrace and partly my posture–within the Tango boundaries of course, we didn’t end up dancing salsa don’t you worry.
Maybe that wouldn’t be the way, the style, I would personally choose to dance in but it was the way I could enjoyably dance with him and that is what made it special!

Don’t fight it, embrace! 😉

How can the different types of embrace effect your posture

Before I give you the video, I want to say this…
When we read or hear the word “effect” immediately we get defensive. As if something really bad is going to happen…Really really bad! haha
But think about it, do you hug your grandma the same way you would hug your daughter, or your spouse?
I hope not..!

So why would you embrace everyone in the same way. They are different people, different body types, you probably have a different relationship with each one of them and most importantly they are offering a different embrace too.

In the video following you can see the different embrace styles, taken down to 3 basic holds and connected to the movement of the spine which creates our posture.

Here is your video: Intelligent Tango: The element of the embrace

The purpose of this video is to offer insight on how the movement of our arms is connected to that of our rib cage, and therefore to that of our spine.
Also to give you a nudge to start exploring all the different cues different teachers have given you regarding posture and the embrace so you can figure out the common ground supporting all styles, understand how you have your whole body involved to the embrace to make it more efficient and enjoyable, plus find the styles that work best for you!

What this video doesn’t intend to do is say which is the real, the true the one and only, the absolute best Tango embrace.