Intellectually, I can get my mind around the usefulness of a fluid or dynamic embrace. It allows for more options in certain places - the opportunity to lead something a little bigger, or a little more complex. It can serve as a dramatic pause. I do sort of get it. Or at least I try to. It isn't my preference. .
There are a few dancers who open the embrace as part of their dance, for the effect of it. I'm not talking about opening the embrace because the step that the music demands is too hard to do in close embrace - sometimes that's just how it goes. I'm specifically talking about opening the embrace as the end in itself. Mostly for a dramatic pause. When I know that the leader I'm dancing with is prone to opening the embrace, I never really settle in. I'm always waiting for the warmth and comfort to be altered, or be taken away altogether.
I danced with a partner the other day who is doing this more and more. In a certain place in the music, he stops briefly, drops his right arm and lets go of me. We're connected only by our open side hands - his left to my right. I have no choice but to drop my arm as well. I stand there wondering what on earth I'm supposed to do during this dramatic pause. Am I meant to express something to the music? Wait solemnly looking lost in el duende? He steps forward and I step back, so that we don't impede the line of dance any longer than a second or two - but he still doesn't put his arm around me. We're still not connected. Does this look impressive to our tiny audience? I feel exposed. Cold.
I find myself getting irritable. This is something I associate with stage tango - the separation for effect. I'm impatient. I whispered, 'either we're dancing or we're not.' He gave me the look of mild exasperation, as if to say 'you just don't get it.' With that he put his arm around me again and we continued. I fell behind him constantly the rest of the dance - unable to stay connected. Some of it was my own stubbornness at that point - irritation. Pettiness. He led a boleo which I followed as an ocho. There was room. I could have lifted my foot off the ground for a quick arc. But I didn't. He noticed. How's that for expressing myself in the dance?
Like I said. Petty.
Other dancers can do this as part of their dance - other followers can work within that space and *do* something with it. I just can't. Maybe someday I'll be able to. I'm sure I can learn what's appropriate, and in the music, for that distance, that space. It can be a beautiful effect - expressive, emotional. A pause in the dance. But I resist learning because I don't like how it feels. I'm supposed to adapt to my partners - be flexible, versatile, accommodating.
Instead, I turn brittle. Unable to recover the suppleness I feel when I embrace my partner. I stiffen up. Close off. Our arms may have settled in around each other again, but for me, the embrace is still broken.