Tango Argentino > AT: is it too much for ballroom beginners?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Twilight_Elena, Dec 31, 2004.

  1. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    I'm a 17 year-old beginner of ballroom dancing (have been taking lessons since August) and as soon as I finish high school (around June) and thus have more spare time, I wanted to give a try at AT. There are open lessons every Wednesday at my dance school's ballroom.
    The question is... should I? With only 9 months of ballroom experience (including ballroom tango), perhaps I shouldn't try AT. Do you believe I should wait till I have more of a dancing experience? Is AT more of an advanced try?

    Twilight Elena
  2. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    AT is neither advanced nor introductory compared to ballroom... it's just very different. Some experience in one would give you some confidence to approach the other, but many common habits in each style are really problematic in the other, so there would be a lot of adjustments to make.

    Try AT when it's something you feel you want to do, regardless of where you are in ballroom at that point.
  3. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    I agree with Chris. I personally wish I had started AT and dancing many years ago. One really can only learn a dance if one has the drive and desire to do so. So if you have this then start AT. If you get really good at AT you will find that it will also help you a lot with your other dances as well. More so than the other way around.
  4. ReneeJoan

    ReneeJoan New Member

    Dear Twilight Elena:

    I started Argentine Tango about two and a half years ago, and prior to that I had no dance training or experience whatsoever. My poor teacher was having to start from ground zero. I had no concept what a difficult challenge I had taken on, but the difficulty only made me more determine to master it.

    About a year and a half after I began tango, I took it into my head to learn salsa. I (naively) thought that after all the hard work that I had put into tango, all the dance fundamentals I had acquired, a "simple" dance like salsa would be snap to learn.

    Not so.

    I have shed a lot of "blood, sweat, and tears" to learn tango, and bear the bruises and scars like battle medals. I think I cried three times as much over that salsa as I did over the tango. Nothing was the same. I might as well have been the same green, clueless beginner as I had been when I started tango, unable to feel my body or feel the intrinsic rhythm of salsa, unable to tell my left foot from my other left foot. I felt so frustrated.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is that so matter how much dance training you have, when you start a completely new style, particularly one as difficult as tango, you will be back at square one. There is no short cut to learning to dance. And I have tango friends who came to tango with twenty years or more of training and experience in ballroom and/or salsa, and they had the same thing I did. Starting tango, even after twenty plus years of training in ballroom, and in some cases even being teachers and professional performers in their own right, put them right back at ground zero again, clueless, stumbling beginners.

    So, begin your tango lessons, and don't set up any arbitrary expectations and time tables on yourself. Just give yourself without reservation to the dance.

    Seventeen? I almost envy you. I was 41 when I started learning to dance, 42 when I began ballet. Twenty-five lost years. I guess I'm just going to have to follow my teacher's example and advice and live forever so I can get in enough dancing.

  5. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    Your comments have been mighty helpful! Thank you so much. Renee, even I wish I had started earlier. I think that, for some reason, we all do.

    Twilight Elena
  6. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I think there is much truth in what Sagitta, Renee Joan and Chris Stratton have said. Some skills are transferable between dances but others are a hindrance. I can usually spot a salsa dancer who comes to my class and have to work with them to iron out some of the techniques which are inappropriate to tango, but as you will see from the dance forums there are plenty of people who dance more than one dance, even if I'm not one of them, being monogamous rather than ambidextrous. My loss I guess.

    One of the key elements of tango is that it is dance of improvisation and learning to listen to your partner's leads is key. I have known ballroom dancers who have been very good at following. (occasionally too good!)

    Things like musicality, balance, posture I would imagine are universal.

    So I suggest you suck it and see.
  7. MadamSamba

    MadamSamba Member

    Indeed, BTM. I started in ballroom and, as suggested, some skills are transferrable, but they're by no means the same. My ballroom tango contains very little if any AT (though my teacher tells me differently).

    AT is a dance of total feeling, Twilight_Elena. You learn and go with the flow. You have to feel it, you can just dance it by rote. Oh, I gotta get to a milonga. Am having serious withdrawal. :)

    Are you enjoying it?

    Also, welcome to DF! :)
  8. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    As a 9-year ballroom dancer and considerably-smaller-amount-of-years A.T dancer I agree with Chris Stratton, ballroom is no pre-requisite for A.T, some sides will help you (e.g. the ability to anticipate other people's moves on the dance floor), other sides will create problems (posture, embrace...).
    I don't really agree with ReneeJoan, it's neither hard nor long to have fun with A.T for a follower (Well, who am I to say that, I'm not a follower myself...), I've seen girls doing well in milongas after three lessons .
  9. Twilight_Elena

    Twilight_Elena Well-Known Member

    I was planning on giving it a shot around July, when my exams are over and I can do as I please. Wish I could start right now, but I can barely go to my ballroom lessons as it is; my program is tighter than humanly possible.
    Any suggestions about how to deal with it? Should I be prepared for something? My teacher said that once, she went to watch, and they were all so serious, practically not talking at all! (She's a loud, latin type girl.)
    Give me feedback, fellows. I haven't heard so much about AT, and am very curious to find out what to expect!

    Twilight Elena
  10. ReneeJoan

    ReneeJoan New Member

    Dear Twilight Elena:

    The atmosphere of the class will depend very much on the personality of the teacher, and also the collective mindset of the class members. If you are there to have fun, you probably will have fun.

    I will not argue the point that there are followers who can learn to dance tango in three easy lessons. They probably actually have talent. I have no talent. I can create the illusion of talent by virtue of a lot of hard work and endless practice, but what I have is rightly called skill, not talent. I have been working for more than six months on a simple fouette turn as part of a larger AT maneuver, and I still goof up that stupid turn almost every time. I think I have maybe been able to successfully execute that turn correctly maybe twice in the last six months. Last week I started learning a new pattern -- about 24 steps. Again, it has 2 turns. The first I can sort of do, but the second I fall off the turn midway through almost every time. I've only been able to do that turn about 4 times correctly, none of which were when my teacher was around. 3 of those times were at the ballet studio when I asked one of the senior professional dancers to help me with it, and one was practicing by myself. But I have done it probably 100 times wrong to the point I don't even want to work on it anymore because I'll probably just do it wrong and it's just reinforcing the error.

    As you can see, I'm kind of bummed about this.

  11. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    The first AT class I ever attended was taught by an overly ambitious visiting ballroom coach, when I had been doing ballroom maybe sixth months. A total and complete disaster. He was teaching patterns that I had no earthly idea how to execute. It's a miracle I didn't break something in the process. :oops: :lol:

    But then, there are people out there who've never taken a lesson before learning AT, and who somehow manage.

    So I don't know. :?
  12. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Yes, the atmosphere of the A.T classes is not predictable, it depends on the teachers. Some teachers talk a lot (e.g. Gavito), some teachers insult their pupils (e.g Suzana Miller), some offer them drinks and cakes...
    I found my A.T classes less friendly than my ballroom classes, mainly because of the fact that A.T people weren't changing partners.
  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    what is a fouette?

    24 steps!!!!???? I can only count to three, hence my excuse for not learning the 8CB, but 24?? Who is teaching you. This is serious choreography. What happened to the dance of improvisation? What do you do if some othe couple get in your way on step 9?
  14. ReneeJoan

    ReneeJoan New Member

    Nobody, apparently. I has such an ugly fight with my teacher last night after my lesson, that he's probably going to tell my to take a flying leap in the closest dry lakebed. I tried to call him to apologize later, and he had his phone off and refused to return my messages.

    And I thought being dumped by a lover was painful. Nothing in this world can compare with losing the friendship and love and respect of my teacher and the best friend I've ever had in my life. Sliced in half doesn't do justice to the feeling. Last night, I seriously wanted to run my car into the freeway median at 85 mph. This morning, I woke up two hours early thinking that maybe I could borrow my ex-boyfriends 9mm Ruger and stop polluting the planet with my presence. Not that anyone would notice or care. My own children don't seem to really care whether I go or stay these days. I can't think of a single person who would even notice I was gone, much less care. I'm too depressed to even watch It's a Wonderful Life. No one would send an angel after me if I decided to jump off a bridge into the swollen Los Angeles River.
  15. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    Cut it out! I'd send you an angel. Get up off your sorry butt and get out of that house right now.

    I don't care where you go. Just go. Pamper yourself. Do your nails. Drink coffee at Starbucks. I don't care. Just go out. Check in after you get back.
  16. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    ReneeJoan, are you there? I'm PM'ing you my cell number. I'll be away frm the computer until evening, but I'll keep my cell phone with me and turned on all day. Call me if you want to talk. Hugs.

  17. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    ReneeJoan, just stop listening these "Cumparsita" lyrics in endless loops and try listening to, for instance, "singing in the rain".
    What a glorious feeling
    I'm happy again.
  18. ReneeJoan

    ReneeJoan New Member

    I'm sorry.
    Please forgive me.
  19. DancePoet

    DancePoet Well-Known Member

    You don't really have two left feet, do you? Cause if you did then of course this would present certain challenges. ;)

    Oh ... I'm being too silly. :lol:
  20. Sagitta

    Sagitta Well-Known Member

    Okay. You had me really worried there, for a little while!

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