Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Dave Bailey, Jun 6, 2011.
like herding cats...
No two tango teachers can agree about anything, so the idea, while sound, is doomed to failure. It's a shame, but I can't see what might change things.
You apparently have a ballroom dancers' view of AT. What you call "doomed to failure", I call guaranteed success.
I was just pondering my own comment and I just thought of something... I bet you could write a a pattern based syllabus entirely based around the giro/grapevine and it would cover 99% of tango. Ochos? They are grapevines that change direction back and forth after the pivot step. Boleos? Grapevines that change direction during the pivot step. Etc.
Oh, and walking. You are either walking or grapevining.
Not at all. I dance over twenty styles, only five of which are ballroom. I'm a dancer, not a ballroom dancer.
Why would any two teachers of AT being unable to agree about almost anything be a good thing? Does it help their students?
Sounds like a syllabus. How many pages will you need?
Hmm... I think a max of two pages. I think I'll write it tonight and get back to you.
My comment was about your viewpoint, not about you as a dancer.
Being unable to agree is a good thing because it creates diversity.
Seeing value in convergence can be taken at face value, and doesn't have to represent a label, perjorative, or otherwise.
It reminds me, though, of my very first AT class, quite a while ago. The teacher had a stooge whose job appeared to be to go around everyone in turn to denounce them: "Are you a ballroom dancer?" At first, I thought "Guilty, as charged (but is is as obvious as all that?)", but then he moved on to a follower, who was actually quite angry at the same question (which was not put in a friendly tone), and answered "No, I'm a complete beginner!"
Good for you, I thought. I never saw her again.
I think that a more open approach would guarantee success, rather than the closed approach of 'anarchy reigns'.
I feel, in dance, common technique allows for individual expression. Are you trying to say that individual expression is important? Then we both agree - but I personally think that lack of technique is a big factor in why so much 'social' dancing looks the same, rather than making it look unique.
Do you feel that learning technique as a common experience is a detriment? If so, please describe how mastery of technique or even mastery of the basic movements (the walk for instance) will make the dancing not as expressive?
By who's definition of mastery, (and does it depend on whoever's definition of the proper embrace)? That's the crux of the debate.
My answer (not that it's worth much) is that a teacher needs to understand what their personal preferences are, and teach them, while also (or afterward) explaining other common possibilities for "whatever they are teaching".
Teaching everyone the same sequences could be described as a closed approach.
I very much believe in good technique (as you may notice from my signature), but I don't think teaching everyone the same sequences necessarily leads to good technique. Also, everyone doesn't need to work on the same technique.
It seems to me that the terms of the debate have been changed from "sequences" to "technique". I see all sorts of people doing regular sequences with lousy technique. The two terms are not at all the same.
I think teaching sequences leads to homogenized dancers, which is not valued much among AT dancers. Since individuality and personal expression are important in AT, I think it's a teachers job to reveal and nurture those qualities, rather than teach in a way that stifles them. It is quite possible to work on technique without resorting to teaching sequences. In fact, many students will become side-tracked by thinking about the sequence and forget about the specific technique being addressed.
Strange, why would anyone say anarchy is a closed approach?
No one questions the importance of technique. Opinions vary on what technique really is and how one should teach/learn it.
I don't think that there is any value in teaching sequences, as such, and certainly not with any expectation that dancers will use them, as taught. Rather, that they can be (approached in the right way) a useful way to introduce new concepts and actions. If everyone in a class is dancing the same thing at the same time, the steps themselves cease to be any distraction, and attention can be devoted to the action itself, and the technique proper to its execution.
I'd never stop with just one version of a sequence, but would mix things around, and change as much as possible, to illustrate the improvisational possibilities open to the class at their particular level of development (which will change over time). To start with, they will use the sequence as taught, but as time goes by, they will learn (should learn) to see the wood for the trees, and extract the development point (and if there wasn't one, why teach it), and become more and more self-contained and able to apply the fundamentals of their dance knowledge in whatever position they find themselves.
In this spirit, even an 8CB has value, but I would be mortified to see anyone dance all eight steps outside class.
When I began teaching tango I used the 8-ct basic, because that's how I was taught. I found that it took my students a long time to learn it, and that they did use it on the dance floor. The effort was using up my valuable class time and it was using up my students' focus of attention, both on a non-essential topic.
As my teaching has evolved, I've decided to only teach that which is essential to doing the dance. I find that I can present any movement or technique without resorting to sequences. Included with the way I present those topics is that the leader must also improvise and lead, and his partner must also follow. IMO, that gets at the central aspects of tango and does not introduce anything outside that.
Pre-programmed multi-step sequences very likely do not reflect the music being played. Learning sequences divorced from the music is pretty much pointless, again IMHO and based upon my personal learning path. Dancing memorized patterns without regard to the character of the music "right now" is dancing by rote. It is not necessary to ingrain such bad habits. There are superior ways to teach, and they have been posted here, by others.
To an extent, I agree. To an extent, standardisation, commonality and consistency are all things to strive for; but only to an extent - too much of this would stifle creativity, innovation and style.
So I've no objection to a good syllabus - that is, one that reflects the core movements and values of the social dance that is the essence of Tango, but which still allows "wiggle room" for development of individualism.
To me, even with all the caveats, this is not a good syllabus.
I said pretty much that at my class last night.
I think I may try "Back Eights in Very Close Hold" next week
Atually, there is... written and used by some very respected teachers 'in BsAs'.
I believe we all can agree that the syllabus in question is complete BS, but let's state truly why. BR teachers have missed the mark for decades, and like DW posted above, it is BR people who are behind this one. How have BR teachers/dancers missed the mark? A syllabus, itself, is not a bad idea. The problem is that the idea/s get muddied from place to place and time to time.
Most syllabi are pattern based... the following step has no building block relationship to the preceding one. Many, if not most, schools have mixed the ideas of a teaching/learning syllabus with that of a selling syllabus (I mean, really, what teaching benefit does learning "Strolling Down the Avenue" or "The Magic Step" have?). Patterns (Names) such as this should not be on anyone's syllabus if they are truly interested in teaching/learning dance. The syllabus that we use for BR and AT (completely seperate), begins each dance teaching its movement, elements, rhythm, timing, and styling (in that order). We, then, expand these movements into various combinations (most of which are well known and accepted by all schools... nothing wierd). Here's the difference... in teaching these 'patterns' we do so such that Step 1 teaches something relevant to the dance; Step 2 builds on Step 1; Step 3 builds on Step 2, etc. Most AT syllabi have names that are descriptive of the action, and seek to teach specifically that element of the movement. That's great.
This gives the syllabus meaning other than just teaching the student a bunch of steps. I know that most 'steps' are supposed to do this, and that this is what most syllabi are supposed to do, as well. Yet, how many really do, or are approached in this manner?
Separate names with a comma.