Tango Argentino > A good sylabus for close embrace Tango learning

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Mario7, Mar 6, 2010.

  1. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    I'll soon be starting another practice partner when her work slows down..she has taken a few classes and has better than average balance to begin with (my opinion). I'm starting to think on how I learned best and what I've learned from teaching my present practice partner... maybe, I can make this series even more effective for her.:)
    Ok, I'm going to do my thinking here and I don't want to make it heavy to burden myself with having to come up with the perfect line of topics to study right now, all at once...I'm going to start to think of it slowly (I have a few weeks) and anyone who wants to chime in is very welcome to do so!:rocker:

    My first thought is to go directly to the embrace and dancing in parallel (afterall this is one on one and not a 20 students class)...no 6-8 step basic, just dancing to get the feel of the music and progress of steps as they can be unlimited in number going forward, etc. Side step (open) forward, backwards (for me)...I've already had one class with her and showed the walk and grapevine and asked her to practice them daily to tango music.
    Anyway, my first thoughts are parallel walking and then outside parallel if she can handle it...I want the first walks to the cross to come out of the cross footed walk. I know that walking to the cross can be VERY advanced for most dancers (me especially) but I have a hunch that she will be able to do a reasonable facimile in three classes. That's all I've thought of so far.8)
  2. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    What makes you think you are qualified to teach?
  3. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I think followers only need to know the essential vocabulary: steps forward, backward, sidewards, front-8, back-8, crusada. Wait until later to teach the crusada. There's no reason for followers to be thinking about anything else in the way of steps, at least for now, especially in close-embrace. If you explain parallel, inside, outside, she will be thinking about concepts that are unimportant for her dance. Only you need to be aware of those things. Of course, there is the connection, also. Less talk, more rock!
  4. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    What makes anyone think they are qualified to teach?
  5. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    .. the fact that I've been dancing (and working at it) for 2 1/2 years and she has for two weeks... Also, the fact that I'm looking for a practice partner and she's looking to learn the dance.. added to this is that fact that her friend is a Tango instructor (She) and when she saw my other partner dance with me (after 4 weeks from beginning) she advised her friend to go work with me.

    ..how's that?
  6. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I cannot speak for everyone. I can only tell what makes me think a person is qualified (or not) to teach.
  7. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    that's an interesting viewpoint.. I'm somewhat a nerd and so I like to point out the different walks etc..but I think that you are 100% right and
    I will try to keep it limited to what you suggest. Thanks!:rocker:
  8. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Not good enough. I have seen followers who after 2 weeks into tango had better understanding of what they are supposed to do than some leaders after years, and abovemntioned leaders were messing them up big time with their instructions.
  9. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    I hadn't time to finish my post...surely, now that I've been recommended by a member of the 'teacher' cult, I can at least work with this one person...don't you think? :confused: besides, it's the woman's choice. No one is twisting her arm and we aren't in the middle of a tanda together...she comes to my house and rings the doorbell in order to start.
  10. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Work as a practice partner, sure. Teaching, no.
    You still a beginner yourself. Have a little more respect for tango. From your posts on this board, you seem to care about the dance, so put your money where you mouth is. Learn, before starting to teach.
  11. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    :doh: I do work as a practice partner...what 'teacher' would ever dance with someone for 1 1/2 hours for free? It goes something like this; "Lets do this for a while and then we will do that."... and if she pulls me off balance, or in someway makes it difficult, I tell her and she has already been asked to tell me if I do the same. Is that 'teaching'?...I'm just asking for ideas here on a process...what comes before what and what would you do first, and second, and third? Capice?
  12. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    That was you who called it teaching in the 1 st place.
    If you are practice partners, I would say just work on what you and her have learned in your (respective) classes with your teacher(s), or whatever comes in the way. No need for a lesson plan or a syllabus whatsoever.
  13. Mario7

    Mario7 Member

    Thanks for your input but I'm not taking your suggestion. Having been raised Catholic and 'fallen away', I no longer depend on Priests for my connection to god{dess}.:evil::google:
  14. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    In that case, perhaps, you should not pretend to be a priest, either... or at least practice what you preach.
  15. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member


    I have a few thoughts.
    1) What you needed to know as a leader and how you learned it (when starting out), may not be an exact match for what the follower needs to know and how.
    2) I agree with most of what Andabien said, but don't think the cross has to wait until later, IMO.
    3) Go for it!!! (BTW, let us know how it goes, and what you learn as well along the way).
  16. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    There is no tango diploma and that might be a good thing, but maybe there are a few indicators, that are helpful for one's self evaluation.

    1. Your teachers think it’s a good idea that you are teaching and/or help them. BTW, if you have no respect for your teachers or you are convinced that you are as good or better as your teachers, maybe it’s time to find more qualified teachers.

    2. You have tried (as a an pupil) and evaluated many different styles of teaching, which means you have taken part in different classes for more than six weeks. You don't necessary need to like them, However, it's enlightening to looked into some of the main approach:
      • the training of stage dancers – get a decent result in shortest time possible
      • the now so popular “yoga” approach – sell tango as a life styles and combine it with some philosophy / esoteric / wellness related stuff, selling the enhanced tango
      • the do as I do, no bull***t, no question Milonguero approach – first learn the real thing, than go out and proof yourself, you may think later.
      I don’t mean you should copy those approaches. However, once you find out why they work as a concept and for the customers, it will be a great help to define your own style.

    3. Pretty much related to the point above. It's a good thing to have at least tried to dance Milonguero / Salon / Fantasia and Nuevo. It handy to give a decent answer based on experience, just in case your students ask anything beside your field. Much better than making something up.

    4. You have gathered some experience in an Tango themed (work) field, maybe you have danced for some years at some Milongas, or have worked as a Taxi dancers or assistant teacher, or had some thing to do around some show work.

    5. Spend several weeks in Buenos Aires, and I don't mean holidays. There is no other place where you can learn so much so fast regarding, styles, teaching, history and the real every day life of tango. You simply can’t teach Argentinean tango and charge money for it, once you haven't had the decency to go and check if you are even doing the real thing.

    6. Before starting your classes you want to go out and form your own strategy to teach. How do I teach to whom what and why? A good start is to observe dancers and looking for “mistakes”. Than think beyond simply pointing out errors. How could the dancer perform the action correct? Are there some technical aspects he needs to learn and understand, so he is is able to perform the action? How can I transfer that knowledge? Maybe there is an exercise that will help him. Can I show and explain him the advantage/impact that this correction will give to his dance or the couple? How can I give him the motivation to change and practice?

    7. Find an experienced partner in crime and teach as a couple. Even when only one person is taught, it is a big advantage to this person to stand undisturbed aside and have the opportunity to look for every detail. Only then the person has the opportunity to understand the movement before being plunged into cold water. One teacher alone simply can't give a comprehensive demonstration. Further you will discover important differences between the leader's and the follower's roll and technique. Once you strap 9 cm heels under your feet, you will instantly agree. Even plain walking is dramatically different when using high heeled shoes against men's sneakers.
  17. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    My 2 cents......

    1 cent - There is a huge differnece between teaching someone something, and showing someone something. At the risk of splitting semantics, we understand that one the first requires a thorough, and sometimes technical, knowledge of "all" parts involved, and the latter simply requires a basic understanding of what you are doing, and, if the "student" is lucky, a basic understanding of what he/she is doing. From his posts, I would probably agree that Mario probably doesn't have the technical skills to teach a partner technically that which she needs to know, but that doesn't mean that he can not show a practice partner what he does, and the walks that she needs to know in order to follow him. Anabien's post is a good one, and Mario said that he would take it to heart.

    2 cents - We all use the term teaching very loosely. Everyone says things like, "I taught her what I learned today". Of course, you are not qualified to "teeach" it, if you just learned it yourself, but that's a usual idom of the language. Let's get off of it, and give each other a break, and get these boards back to helping each other better the dance that we enjoy so much.

    A PS... My former friend had not danced a step of tango in her life. We were kind of a thing, so I wanted her to learn. I took her to a milonga before she had taken one formal lesson, and yes, horror of horrors, I "taught" her at the milonga (and, I am well qualified to use that word). The point is that she was born to tango. She learned... at lightning speed. I could barely keep her once the others saw her dance. After only 6 months, people were begging her for lessons. She refused b/c she didn't feel qualified, but she was. She is now a very respected and beautiful AT teacher in Chicago. Exceptions are possible.
  18. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    Teaching a female beginner:

    If you take money, it might be a good idea to ask about her expectations first, to make sure she gets what she is paining for.

    Beside that, in my opinion technique is far more important for a beginning woman than syllabus. Important points to me are:

    • The separation of of stepping action and finally weight transfer..
    • The connection between the partners: the frame of embrace. Accept the lead by freezing your elbow and shoulder joints. Hold tension in the right part of your body to have your feet moved by the lead. How not feel like Frankenstein Monster while doing this.
    • The introduction into keeping the free leg relaxed as well as all other “unused” body parts, even when holding tension in other areas to accept the lead.
    • Developing a trust into the lead and the leader (he should be able to earn it btw).
    • Develop her feeling for her posture and balance.
    • Giving her a good feeling ;)
    All this aspects can be trained by simple walking figures and, after the introduction of pivot, simple ocho combinations.

    In my experience it’s better to start in an open embrace, as it is much more forgiving against any kind of mistakes (up to stepping on one’s toes). When a decent understanding of balance, timing and posture is achieved, I will start to teach close embrace, if that’s the goal of the students. When moving close together the first thing about the woman is to check her posture and correct anything that will lead to strain and pain in her back.

    Even teaching something as unimportant as Tango (compared to heart surgery) gives you certain responsibilities. If you teach something wrong or just forget to correct it, your students will get used to using that mistake. This might block further learning, causes physical pain and will take double time to un- and relearn the right way.

    A teacher, who relies only on his students (and not his mentors and his self evaluation) to point out his mistakes, is not a teacher but a joke.

    PS.: I don't think it is wrong to explain anything to anyone. Once you assume a roll that bears some kind of responsibility for the outcome & participators and maybe even charge money for it , it is about time to consider what you are doing.
  19. Lui

    Lui Active Member

    Maybe, this is not really an exception? Maybe she is such a fast learner and good teacher because she is very careful and aware about what she is doing?
  20. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    okay can you certify me please?


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