Tango Argentino > Videos > Butt wiggling and flashy footwork are not tango

Discussion in 'Videos' started by jantango, Feb 21, 2013.

  1. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    Teaching steps is easy. The hard part is teaching dancers to connect their movement with the music. Most dance teachers have no musical training, so they cannot teach what they do not know. A few are fortunate to hear the music well and dance to it.

    There are tango dancers around the world who don't connect with the music, including many in the milongas of Buenos Aires.
  2. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I don't think many tango dancers have any musical training either - and I don't see it as any impediment to dancing with musicality. In a teacher, it might hinder effective communication, but only for want of a proper vocabulary to talk about the subject - but then if the students don't understand the vocabulary either, it makes little difference.

    To a large degree, musicality can be acquired and nurtured, but if you are going to presume to teach others, you really need to have it to a fairly advanced degree, or expect to be found out ...
    bordertangoman and Bailamosdance like this.
  3. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    you can do that with ballroom students also given enough time and keen observation skills

    " so and so was obvioulsy trained by so and so"
  4. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    connecting music to movement and musical training are minimally overlapping subsets at best

    my first ( a one i still dance with)instructor has her masters in music i played first chair clarinet we discuss music structure as it relates to dance all the time . that being said musicality is an integrative movement skill and my advanced knowledge of music structure has not helped as much as i would have hoped the mrs on the other hand gets it organically ( jelllliisss imoge here)
  5. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Oh, I forgot who I was asking. :eek:
  6. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Sometimes to much knowledge in one area can hinder progress in related area.

    IME People who played tennis had big problems playing squash ;)
  7. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    destructive interference LOL

    or ping pong:cool:
  8. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I ran into another (former?) AT person at Bushwhackers, the CW place, last night. I told her about walking into Lo de Celia and getting a big smile on my face when I could see the music in everyone on the floor. Hope it wasn't just a lucky happenstance!

    My favorite non AT teacher proposes that whether we know it or not, we are either training ourselves to dance with the music, or to just do moves.

    I don't think that learning about music is in any way a bad thing, unless you can't "just dance" when it's time to dance. Me, I've got 5 books in front of me as I tackle the deceptively simple concept of "shuffle rhythm."

    I know I have a very long way to go on the "learn about music" journey, but maybe one day I'll feel the same way I felt after 2 1/2 years of intense study of Argentine Tango the dance. And that was a feeling that I was pretty much past the point of diminishing returns.
  9. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Yes, I agree (somewhat or entirely, I haven't decided...:)). Dancing with "musicality" would have to be defined, and that's a terribly difficult thing to do. One knows it when one sees it, or better, when it's experienced in the dance.

    I'm not sure how a teacher who has it (musicality) can teach it to students who have yet to acquire it without defining the proper musical vocabulary. At least in basic terms, specifically asking students to listen to the music: is the passage marcato or lyrical or both?; is the melody dominating or is the accompaniment or is there an interplay between them?; is the mood "sad" (a minor key) or "happy (a major key); has there been a concluding cadence?; how is the next passage different from what was just heard? The musical questions teachers should ask are numerous. Very few ask or point out any of the musical aspects, yet they are the essence of the dance, as you know obviously.
  10. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Sadly, so very true. Honestly, at first my musical training was a hindrance. A big hindrance. I thought "I know what this music is all about, nothing to it really. I'll master this tango stuff in no time". Of course I was absolutely terrible for a long time. I learned to just listen and emotionally connect to the music in my movements, and once I could do that, then to my partner too. I had to have the musical connection first.

    But I absolutely enjoy studying tango music in detail. It makes ME a better dancer.
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  11. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    ...My favorite non AT teacher proposes that whether we know it or not, we are either training ourselves to dance with the music, or to just do moves.

    Marvelously said!. Teachers who ask students to pay attention to the music, in detail, and offer ways to dance and reflect what they hear, are very, very rare. When you find one, latch on. Ask tons of questions and pay whatever their price is for privates. Just my personal experience....
  12. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I think this is what I meant when I wrote about acquiring and nurturing musicality. Obviously, the process will be different for someone with an academic background in music, for an amateur musician and for someone with no previous musical training/education.

    Musicality is a very difficult thing to teach. You have to have something to say (or show) worth hearing on the subject, of course (and that's not a given: have you watched many teachers actually dance ;)) but you also need receptive students. It can be one of those real turn-off topics, like walking: emptying a room in no time. It's difficult.
  13. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Musicality isn't often taught well, or at all, but I don't think it has to be that way. Dance is often taught poorly, also. If dance can be taught well, then I don't see why musicality can't also be taught well, and enjoyably. Granted, the teacher would have to have figured out what contributes to musicality in order to present that information.
    Bailamosdance likes this.
  14. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    I've heard about dance classes without music. These are the ones to leave immediately!!!!! No one learns to dance in them, only to memorize steps that have no relationship to the music.
  15. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    If you mean whole classes, I'd readily agree with you; but at times, the focus is on acquiring a technical skill or competency - working on a method of movement - which often makes considerable demands on poise and balance. While getting the motor skills sorted out, music can be an unwelcome distraction. The only reason, of course, to acquire these skills, is to use them when dancing musically.
    bordertangoman likes this.
  16. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I can think of times when I COULDN'T do everything I was supposed to do and stay with the music. But, because we were given music do practice to ASAP, I was challenged to get it all together.
    I know people who have been "practicing" moves for years and have never learned to go with the music.
    jantango and bordertangoman like this.
  17. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    In dance-by-numbers classes, the steps have nothing to do with the music so it's distracting. But, once the steps have been figured out and practiced, would the music still be a distraction?

    I've taken dance-by-numbers classes and even after I learned the steps, it doesn't work to any music that the instructor played. Once, the instructor even tried to show us how to do it to music but couldn't because the steps didn't work with the music. He decided to change the subject and we did something else.:rolleyes:
    jantango likes this.
  18. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    I agree with UKDancer. There is a time for technical drills and practice and a time for dancing to music. One leads to improvement in the other. Musicians practice scales, arpeggios, studies and so on, not because those things are fun or musical, but because they improve, among other things, one's technical ability to play an instrument (or sing). Good music teachers spend about 1/4-1/2 the lesson on technique (much to the dissatisfaction of the majority of students, who just want to somehow magically play without any real effort!) and the rest on playing music. Without technical accomplishment any musicality one hears and wishes to express (in playing an instrument or dancing) will be limited.
  19. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    We're talking about teaching musicality, not dance-by-numbers charlatanism - that's just your hangup.

    Mind you, I have used the Basic Eight, several times, as a hook upon which to hang class exercises based on varying the timing and quality of those eight steps to fit the music better. It was quite an eye-opener, for some. Also with forward ochos: separating out the followers foot extension, weight transfer, collection & pivot into four distinct actions, each capable of receiving emphasis, and then dancing to very lyrical music, incorporating as many variants as possible. The learning objective being, of course, for the more subtle and nuanced use of such basic elements to become part of a dancers normal tool kit, the better to express the dance.
  20. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    In the year+ that I took lessons with this instructor, the only step that had anything remotely resembling movement to music was the rock step. He knew the music well enough that he could put on appropriate music for the steps he taught, but we were expected to practice these steps even when the same music demanded different movements.

    He didn't understand musical expression even though he had been dancing professionally at an international level for years. I could tell he could hear, but he's accustomed to using music as a backdrop to showcase his skills. This is what classical training emphasizes: great technique and form while neglecting what really matters. To him, a dancer is expected to impress an audience of hundreds, not one.

    When I became aware of the music, I wanted him to teach us how to move to it. Unfortunately, he couldn't teach this so I had to learn it on my own.

    His teaching partner snickered and laughed at me for moving the way I did. She would snicker every single class because I was doing something that was nothing like what she was taught. She was taught ochos, boleos and ganchos alongside the 8-count-basic. I was starting my dance by stepping forward, not back. Soon, after I had practiced moving to the music enough and finally broke the habit of stepping backward first, she stopped snickering. I assumed it was because how I moved looked like what the music was telling me to do.

    In the year+ that I took lessons with them, I had never seen him dance to the music even though he demonstrated it dozens of times. I've never seen her dance to the music either, and she's been doing this for many, many years. She, like many students and observers, still thinks tango is about doing fancy moves and embellishments. She doesn't wiggle her butt but tries too hard to do flashy footwork, attempting to impress her students. He does the same. They are moderately successful at it because some of their students still go back to them for lessons.

    Someone mentioned that what these teachers offer is a fantasy. I've attempted to break this fantasy only to be shot down. They don't want their fantasy broken. They are perfectly happy taking classes, go to a milonga and watch others dance, and then go on taking more classes. As long as their fantasy is fulfilled, I guess there's nothing wrong with it.
    Steven123 and jantango like this.

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