El Encuentro




What are those TangoForge dancers doing lately? They don’t go directly into the embrace. They’re doing some weird stuff first.

El Encuentro (The Encounter), in the words of one of my students, is the idea to “get to each other and the music and grow into the dance together”.

When we start to dance tango, there is always a process in which the Revel relinquishes autonomy in order to become the medium of the divine creativity of her Mark. El Encuentro is about Dancing that process, showing it, and embodying it.  When we do this, we have the chance to show the partner our capacities, and our feeling for the song we are dancing to.

Rather than marching onto the dance floor, establishing the embrace and then dancing, we first connect our individual bodies to the music, begin to dance in some way, and then dance through the landscape of people, furniture, and space, to join the partner. The partners begin dancing autonomously, connecting their bodies to the music first, and then look for one another. They approach one another and begin to interact, still dancing autonomously. At some point, they connect…

class1_1What is the tango connection? It is a very particular power relation in which the Mark has creative power and the Revel has the power to manifest his spark.

As the partners approach one another, we show our willingness to enter this connection in one or a mix of ways:

  • reaching to establish the embrace (gradually, and starting with alternate locations for touch)
  • without any touch, start dancing tango in a predictable manner by using one of the tango pathways (walking, molinete lineal, giro, barrida) or taking a predictable pose like a voleo
  • matching the partner’s dynamic (even when moving in different directions)
  • transform any touch, anywhere, to the tango-touch, which means the Revel responds to the Mark’s movements by making a projection of her free leg (holding her base-arc static)

As one of my students exclaimed “this is about the embrace without touching!” Tango is recognizable, and the tango connection can be intense, without the embrace.

We use the techniques of soltada for doing this (see below).

I kept asking the students “Is it tango?”, and they cried “yes!”

Emily said

“In truth, until now, tango didn’t actually feel like dancing. Now I feel I’m dancing.”

29 okt vio rto revel initiative still2 lighter

Why do women put our power to the side and enjoy the man’s power? Do men need to earn this sacred privilege? Shall we work our way into it, rather than taking this relation for granted? How can we enrich the power relationship and the artistic relationship by getting to know one another as we “get to each other”?

Using El Encuentro the Revel has a chance to show the partner her movement capacities, the strength (or weakness) of her body, her musicality, and her mood. She invites him to dance with her. For me, this has become the most important dimension in the desirability of a mark regardless of level. Is he dancing with ME? Or is he doing the same dance with everyone? A guy who ignores my capabilities is a guy I only need to dance with once.

If we begin dancing autonomously, we gradually and communicatively change the power relations. I choose to enjoy my mark’s power, rather than my own. Without the usual clunky methods of establishing the embrace (stand still, put your arms around each other), he has to discover my body, my movement, and find a way to touch or connect to me. He looks at me, moving, and asks himself “how can I start to mark?” Where can I touch her? How can I begin to interact my intentions with her movement?”

He needs to touch and connect and mark in a way that gets my interest. She’s already dancing. She doesn’t need him. How does he convince her to enjoy his power?


(instructions from the TangoForge KnowledgeBase encyclopeda of tango technique)


  • The Revel should continue dancing in the improvisational context shown by the Mark just prior to releasing the embrace.
  • The Revel does not freeze, unless the Mark freezes.
  • The Revel drags her nearest hand’s fingers very gently along the nearest part of the Mark’s body so that he has a way to reconnect with her when he wants to.
  • The Mark does not need to reestablish the embrace prior to the next mutual step: He can mark with no embrace, with any kind of contact he can establish to any part of her body, or with one hand/side of the embrace. It’s nice to reestablish the embrace gradually over several steps. Sacadas are especially nice as the exit from soltada, establishing the embrace after the first sacada. Or you can play the sacada game, with no embrace for several steps, before reestablishing the embrace.
  • In soltada, direction is less important than dynamic. The connection is manifested in the matching dynamic.

The Mark must release the Revel within a context so she knows how to continue. There are several contexts you can use:

  • Release on a tango pathway
    • walking: front, back, or lateral walk (molinete lineal
    • ochos/side steps
    • giro
  • Release in the context of an interaction
    • sacadas (If the release is in a Mark sacada, the revel should continue/improvise receiving steps. If the release is in a Revel’s sacada, he continues to improvise receiving steps, and she improvises her entry. See the sacada game.)
    • ganchos (use Pulpeades.)
    • barrida
    • rebote
Home Tango Practice

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