Friday, July 18, 2014

A tango tip for men: Your hands in the embrace

Last week I posted about a problem many tangueras have with their right arm and hand, and how to easily fix it.

Now let’s look at the tanguero’s left hand . . . and his right hand, too! 

A picture is worth 1,000 words.  I recently found this image on a Facebook page for an event with Gustavo Naveira and Giselle Anne

What an embrace!!  

It's an almost perfect example for you of what I described on the recent podcast, and have been teaching for years.

Aside from Gustavo’s being in love with the woman he's embracing, and the father of her children . . . Gustavo is literally a master of masters.  

Notice his right hand on Giselle Ann's body, just below her shoulder blade.  In our recent podcast on “Embrace, Intention, and Decisiveness in Your Lead”, I had said that Porteños tend to have a rather “possessive” quality in their right hands on their partners‘ upper bodies for the 10 minutes of a tanda.

When you look at Gustavo’s photo, do you see what I meant by "possessive"?  He is not afraid to let his masculinity "intrude" or presume. There is absolute confidence - and authority - in that hand.  

There’s authority in his left hand too.  Gustavo uses his left hand slightly differently from what I recommend to you, but it’s close!  His palm faces the center of the embrace (my preferred position is palm facing your cheek).  He positions his left hand close to the midpoint between their bodies, slightly back toward his shoulder, and outstretched just enough to let Giselle’s arm fall gracefully into a comfortable, relaxed position.

Notice the "kiss my hand" energy of her beautiful right arm.  It is relaxed, but not limp! It’s energetic, because there’s life in her hand!

Gustavo's other variation from the classic left-hand Tango Salon position I always describe to you is that he grasps Giselle’s fingers, so their palms don’t connect.  I recommend to all of you that you make great contact palm-to-palm. Remember, your hands are on a 3-mintue date, just like the rest of you!

Tangueros, I recommend that you go ahead and copy Gustavo's embrace!  (Just turn your left palm a tad more toward your cheek, and let your partner fully connect her palm with yours.)

Have a great weekend, and let me know your thoughts about what I'm saying about the embrace!  Just write in the comments area below.


  1. Just lost my comment! One more time. It's a gorgeous photo and they have a beautiful embrace. Strong, intimate, loving. However, there is one thing we should take note of and that is the position of Giselle's head, which is turned toward her partner. I assume this was done for the purpose of the photograph, so we could see how beautiful she is. But some tangueras do dance this way and it does alter the geometry of the embrace.

    1. Getting back to you late, but I appreciated your post, Robert. Yes, that was a pose for a publicity shot, and it was a number of years back. But that's still how they dance. There is a tremendous intimacy when the woman turns her head that way. You're breathing the same air! It's 2 inches from a kiss. You're right about it altering the geometry of the embrace. They're more open on the right side. This is another legitimate, classic tango salon embrace position - the V-embrace. His right pectoral fits tightly between hers. Some women will adapt to the embrace of their partner of the tanda, and some assume their favorite position. And vice-versa. It's always a give-and-take.

  2. Thank you for this post, Helaine.
    I would like to add that one of most important thing is the hidden side of the photo: the angle between his arm and forearm is clearly in contact with Gisele shoulder, assuring the ideal connection. Then his right hand and fingers in some cases could be felt by the woman a bit too much near the base of the breast.
    But that would not be a risk if Gustavo partner is a swimmer athlete whose back and shoulder would not allow such a close embrace, allowing part of the artistic side of this photo. Surely in this pose they are great together!


    1. Sorry for the delay, Frank. Thanks for writing your thoughts! G&G often dance this way. It's not just a pose. I think that experienced tangueras are never concerned about a partners' fingertips wrapping around her ribs pretty far, as long as they are respectful not to cross the line and touch her breast. With less experienced tangueras, it may be wise to be extra careful. But if you lead with clarity and authority, they won't even think about your trying to "cop a feel". :)