Saturday, 3 October 2009


Recently I was trying to remember what entrega is. Literally it means 'handing over', 'surrender', but I know it has a particular meaning in tango. My usual research method turned up this page, dated two years ago; there are some interesting comments too. There were never many posts on the Chemin du Tango blog, and it hasn't been updated since last year, but the posts are interesting; come back soon, Chemin du Tango.

Chemin du Tango's writing about entrega is a great account of... well, of almost a non-event, but nevertheless of something wonderful, something really indescribable. But her non-description seems to be a good indication of what a leader should aim to give his partner. (So it's not an assault course of waved and waving limbs that they want, not a lively good time, not an aerobic session, not even a Q&A? Just...)

I must have read about entrega first on TangoandChaos where there's a whole page on it, including a great video and a wonderful photo of '...three of the world’s best tango dancers'. Tangoandchaos says that 'What the people of the clubs are really looking for is entrega. In fact, you could say that “entrega” is the whole point of tango'. He adds that this kind of tango '... has become buried under a step and figure oriented dance that’s performed with one eye on the mirror and the other eye on the audience. A tango designed to impress as many people as possible in a two-minute YouTube clip...'

Some things are easier to define by saying what they aren't. I'd be grateful if anyone out there can tell us more. Is it really that important?


Anonymous said...

I wonder if there is a "flamenco duende" for tango?

Tangocommuter said...

Interesting idea, Anon. If there is such a thing as 'duende por dos' it sounds as if it could be entrega!

Game Cat said...

I think a man experiences “entrega” differently from a woman.

As a man, I think it is to commit yourself fully to expressing the music through your dance, and sharing what you feel with a willing and capable partner. The music inspires me to lead. The traffic shapes my options. I don’t remember exactly what I did, but I know it made perfect sense to do it. I’m never “lost” in it, but I don’t have to consciously plot the next move either.

My relationship with the music is changing - I’m dancing to appreciate the music better, not listening to the music to improve my dancing.

Tangocommuter said...

You might be right there. Although I like what Chemin du Tango writes, it's not how I'd describe my own experience. As you put it very clearly, 'I don’t remember exactly what I did, but I know it made perfect sense to do it' – on some level there is sense, order, even a rationale, even if at the same time you are completely lost in it; it's a complex activity but at the same time it's unthinking and relaxed. I can never remember what I did: one thing just led to another. The leader surrenders to the music, to the constantly-changing patterns of the floor, to the needs of his partner, but it is a sort of active 'surrender'.

Interesting that quite a few posts (mine and elsewhere) try to elaborate on the mental state of dancing. In fact we're not alone: I came across this from Cacho Dante who teaches in Buenos Aires. 'A milonguero is a slave of the music, the tempo, and the space. When he dances, music invades his body and is translated into his steps and his movements... Such blending with the music is what produces a sensation that their bodies are actually speaking (chamuyan).'

Game Cat said...

TC - That Cacho Dante link was interesting. I did however flinch at his "slave to the music" metaphor, although I understood where he was coming from. "Active surrender" sounded better.

Deeply relaxed but also intensely focused. If I can't concentrate (e.g. tired), it won't work. I won't be listening to my partner.

When I hear the music and sense it coming (right partner, warmed up, etc.), the brain quickly shifts into a different gear and warns me that we're ready to go.

Elizabeth Brinton said...

I wrote about it once on my blog,

..but, even now it is elusive.

Tangocommuter said...

I should have included this: "Guys, to dance tango, you must listen to the heart of the woman." The music, the floor, and the heart of the woman... It's in another of the articles on that website.

Elizabeth Brinton said...

TC, I just reposted my entry from more than a year ago, just because you got me thinking about it.

Tangocommuter said...

Many thanks Elizabeth! I couldn't get the link to work, and I was just leafing through the old posts on your blog, and really enjoying your visit to BsAs, and your paintings! But I couldn't find that post, and then suddenly it arrived!

I'll read it carefully when I have a moment. But what seems clear is that this is something a leader can offer a partner who likes dancing with him, and it's good to keep that in mind. We spend so much time on the details; we learn steps, floorcraft, music, perhaps we lose sight of what it's really about. Which was why I was interested in Chemin du Tango's post, and in trying to think a bit about what entrega means, and whether it is important. So thanks again for the re-posting.

Красимир said...

Have you thought about the technical component of "entrega"?

Here is my idea of dancing the entrega - I am saying nothing new - the couple should share their balance, but the woman more so. More, to the point of applying no effort to keep balance. Or to move. She is balanced and moved as a part of the couple. She is "powerless". This is the "mechanical" entrega. Essential part of the whole thing. Simple, but not easy to achieve.