“The mastery isn’t that this Maestro can lead any move to an (sic) absolute beginner – it is that when she doesn’t follow what he has led, he adjusts to her. Meets her where she is. Makes something beautiful with what she provided for him. On the fly.”
– via My Tango Diaries
We would only add that the Master does this all in a gentle embrace and without force. This may seem obvious, but we have often heard beginner followers rave about a leader who led them through many complicated movements even though we had observed her being held in a killer embrace by that leader. Unfortunately, in the beginning, many followers are more excited about dancing through a bunch of difficult moves than being held in a wonderful embrace. Although, it isn’t only the beginner leader who gets obsessed with steps and “fancy” moves.
The embrace is what makes Tango what it is. You either have it or you don’t. Take a look at the couples on the floor of the milonga. Although you may see many women with their eyes closed while connected chest to chest with a man, you may also see an awkwardness in the embrace, or rather, the way the couple is holding one another. Many women appear to have difficulty embracing the men they dance with (outside of Argentina). Although women want their men to embrace them properly, we say it is absolutely critical to a man’s dance for the woman to embrace properly. In other words, a woman wants it, but a man needs it.
Picture the typical North American Hug. The one where people create as much space between themselves and the person they are hugging in order to avoid making any real contact. The arms don’t truly wrap around one another, the heads don’t touch, the eyes are looking around, and the person is obviously not focused on that hug. This is a commonly seen embrace in North America and shouldn’t come as a surprise considering we don’t live within a culture of touching.
Pre-Buenos Aires, K had the embrace on a technical level which means on a physical level it looked right, but it didn’t feel completely right and it definitely did not “dance” right. By this we mean the following: The embrace also includes constantly “looking for” your partner. It’s not enough that you are “giving yourself” completely (a rather passive action), but you must actively look for your partner (your chest is always attempting to connect with your partner’s chest). Which is also another important point. The elusive “connection” people are constantly talking about is almost entirely a physical term. It is easy to connect with your partner if you are both embracing one another and emotionally invested in that embrace.
As for Jorge, his embrace was O.K., but it was not the Elusive Embrace.