Dance Articles > A Student Perspective

Discussion in 'Dance Articles' started by Reportango, Apr 27, 2003.

  1. Reportango

    Reportango New Member

    A Student Perspective by Batt Johnson
    First published by ReporTango,
    The Tango magazine in February 2003, RT N=BA27

    Not everyone wants to become a professional dancer or even a great social
    dancer. It is no secret that we all dance for different reasons. Some of us
    dance as a form of physical therapy from injuries, weight control, weight
    loss, love of music, getting married and you don't want to look like a geek
    for the wedding dance, saw the milonga in Central Park, just something you
    always wanted to do, inspiration from old Fred Astaire movies, saw Forever
    Tango on Broadway, nothing better to do on a Friday evening, as a way to a
    better social life, love life, married life, who knows why we dance?

    My question is: Why do we stop dancing? No time, no baby sitter, no money,
    no energy, no dates, no skills, no interest, no balance, no luck, your mate
    won't allow you. The reasons are numerous, but I submit to you one reason
    that is not often discussed...Frustration!

    Many students stop dancing because of frustration. Students often don't
    think they are good dancers, and one of the reasons is they try to go too
    fast, learn too much too soon. They are in a hurry to get to the advanced
    class or the next level up so they can dance like their favorite hero tango
    instructor. We have to be aware of the fact that the NAME of the class does
    not make you that level of dancer. Only learning technique and practicing
    your basics will do that. It is easy to be seduced by the ease and
    effortlessness with which high-level professional tango dancers walk.

    Remember, this incredible dance is based on a walk, that's all. You might be
    saying to yourself, "A walk? I can walk, but when I walk, it doesn't look
    like THAT." To be able to dance tango is to be able to walk tango, and that
    takes time.

    I once had a teacher who had us walking around the studio in line of dance
    for months before he started working in any "steps." Students were dropping
    out left and right. That is something the school owners don't want to hear.

    But I must say that because of that constant walking and understanding of
    the technique, we were able to understand and apply more complex steps late=
    because we had a foundation. Learning the walk is not exciting, but it is
    necessary. You can't do this dance without it. I know that the beginner
    students who are in the intermediate and above classes are not going to go
    back to their true level because they read this article, but they should.
    What good does it do to be able to say that you are in the intermediate
    level class if you dance like you are in the beginner class? Please don't
    misunderstand me. There is nothing wrong with being a beginner. That is
    where we all started. But, you can't fool people, they can see, or while
    dancing with you they can feel it. If more dance schools had a screening
    system for students to graduate to the next level, there would be a lot more
    skilled dancers at the milongas. I get the feeling that not many are
    teaching floor crafting, line of dance and simple dance etiquette. Last week
    I was at a crowded milonga and was stepped on, kicked, bumped and knocked
    around more times than I care to mention. Why? Is it because the leaders
    weren't looking where they were taking their partners, or was I just in the
    wrong place at the right time too many times?

    This article is being written for my fellow students who are in a hurry to
    get to the advanced class. If you want to increase your level of stress,
    frustration and embarrassment, rush to the classes that are above your true
    level. Believe me, the advanced class is not all it's cracked up to be, but
    the beginner class is. How can that be? The beginner and
    beginner/intermediate classes are where you learn your foundation, learn to
    walk, the importance of your feet, your frame, your posture, your head, your
    shoulders, your shoulder blades, the separation of your upper body from your
    lower body. Without a good foundation you can grow as a dancer but you'll be
    a dancer with many very bad, difficult to break habits. For those of us who
    have attempted to break any habit of any kind, you know how difficult it is.

    I was once in a class when maestro Carlos Gavito walked through on his way
    to another studio. My teacher stopped him and asked him in a voice loud
    enough for all to hear, "Carlos, what is the most important, most useful,
    fancy step a student could learn?" Without hesitation he said, "The basic,
    you have got to really learn your basics. NOTHING can work if you don't have
    that. Forget about dancing if you don't know the basics. Without the basics,
    what you are doing is not dancing."

    A word to the wise: Don't throw away your money on intermediate/advanced and
    advanced classes that you are not ready for. The dance school you are
    studying in will GLADLY take your money and only teach you steps...steps,
    and more steps. But remember steps without foundation is bad dancing, steps
    without style is ugly dancing. So why do many students stop dancing? Many of
    them stop because they didn't learn the basics or build a foundation, got
    frustrated, and quit. It is not possible to write a novel before you know
    the alphabet. Stop throwing away your money...learn the alphabet.

    Batt Johnson - Lover of Dance
  2. lyw

    lyw New Member

    I really like this article and would like your permission to post it on my site:

    in my Dance and Music page, Articles and Comments section.

    Perhaps you'd want to even expand on your ideas? Have you any other articles?

    I look forward to your reply.

  3. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Hi Lilian,

    I'm glad you liked the article.

    This would not be my decision. Please visit the Reportango website and check with them. I had to get permission to post this article.

    I might add that it is not copyright infringement to copy the first few sentences of an article and then link to the source. This is done all the time among news websites.

    BTW, Reportango is a first class publication and I am a subscriber. I highly recommend it!


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