Tango Argentino > Enough Classes

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by AndaBien, Oct 6, 2010.

  1. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    And, based on experience, so do I! But Tango's entire
    development has been based on that informality.

    Whoever thinks they have enough knowledge can teach,
    or in many cases other people, potential students,
    cajole someone into teaching or coaching them.
    Of course ad hoc teaching/learning is inefficient. Human evolution and
    development was/is very inefficient, that's life. Talking about efficiency
    starts alarming thoughts of bureaucracy and autocracy. I think not!

    Tango was evolved informally over many years and its worldwide spread
    is causing another evolution, part good and part not so good. But thankfully
    Tango is alive and not pickled into books of steps and tiers of diplomas.
  2. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Oh, I've no interest in either books of steps or tiers of diplomas.

    But if 'efficiency' meant that a beginning student of the dance could get to grips with the fundamental principles and typical elementary movements of the dance in six months, instead of two years, without the result being formulaic, than that would be a good thing. The challenge in this dance (and I'm not trying to turn it into a sixth Ballroom genre) is to distil the essence of its technique without 'steps' and standardisation - which would be the opposite of the reality.

    I didn't say that it could be done, and perhaps it can't.
  3. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member


    define 6 months.

    6 month group classes once a week, twice a week, three times, ...
    Private classes ....

    How many practicas, milongas, in that 6 months.
    What are basics you define.
  4. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I hadn't thought of defining it, but I suppose I mean the typical beginning dancer who attends a weekly group class once a week, who doesn't stay on for any practise opportunity, isn't ready for/can't afford/wouldn't consider private lessons, and is far too frightened of this dance to risk ridicule/rejection by going to a milonga (except to watch) for many months.

    If such a student could be introduced to the fundamental principles of this dance in such a way that they were moving confidently, but in very simple ways, in the first month, and then were building up an understanding of leading and following common patterns that we all use all the time (but prefer not to be reminded are patterns;)), and to begin to explore the ability to hear and respond to tango music in a genuinely improvisatory way, then they may very well be inexperienced, but genuine, members of the tango community within six months. In two years, they could be quite good...

  5. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I think what you describe is the best way to dance, that is, doing basic steps with nuance, expression and simple grace. It's the way I try to dance and I'm very content with it. I think my partners are also.

    I've tried hard to teach students to dance this way and I don't believe it should take very long, if they will study it. I found that they either didn't believe it was suitable and insisted on doing "steps", or they were unable to discover the satisfaction in that type of dance. I've come to think that it takes a good long time for dancers to realize what a fine dance can be had using basic steps.
  6. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I don't agree that the reason students can't do this is because of contradictory lessons or advice. I believe it's because so few teachers teach the most important fundamentals at the beginning at all, especially to large group classes.

    To be fair, so few students are willing to take the time to focus on that stuff in the beginning.

    I was lucky... my first teacher refused to teach anything BUT the important fundamentals to beginners. None of the fundamentals he taught me has ever been contradicted by another teacher, although it has been "corrected" by other students who didn't get taught anything but steps in their classes. :rolleyes:
  7. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    Is this because the teachers choose not to teach fundamental principles, or because they can't? I agree that it will always be an uphill struggle to get students to understand the need to build from firm foundations, but teachers have a responsibility to guide and, well, teach!
  8. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    I think that's a matter for a private opinion on individual teachers
    having drawn my own conclusions in the past. There are teachers
    who teach fundamentals but then your next comment becomes relevant.

    They have that responsibility of course but teachers have many different
    ideas about what tango is depending on their experience and their interest.

    Keeping adult students interested in the basic fundamentals will always
    be difficult. When you start investing your own leisure time and income
    in dance lessons, most people expect quick results and teacher to have
    a magic wand. Many is the person who has retreated frustrated at lack
    of progress and I've seen some move backwards to a "step factory".

    Having said that, I don't believe that any teacher I've come across
    actually starts at the most fundamental place of all - teaching how to
    connect with, control, develop and use your own body.
  9. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I agree with that. How's is it done? What is required? What would the 'lesson plan' contain? Our local tango 'step factory' seems to do a roaring trade. And I've seen their pupils dance... the same thing, again and again and again ...
  10. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I imagine that there are those that can't, but for the most part, if you want to have any business, you have to provide what the market wants. Most students want fancy stuff right off the bat. They saw a tango show or Dancing with the Stars and they want to learn "TANGO". They want to be able to go out dancing, and for many NOrth American men, if you don't give them precise patterns to use, they have no idea what to do when they get to a milonga, or they are afraid to be seen doing things that aren't "impressive". If they took any ballroom classes, they are expecting things to be structured in a similar way. Those people all want to know the "basic step" like they learned in their first class on any ballroom dance.

    It's kinda a losing battle to focus on technique and fundamentals as a teacher... I know, I tried it and failed as a teacher because no one wanted my class since I didn't teach cool moves or patterns.
  11. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Hey, don't ask me, I'm not the teacher around here!
    Though based on my past experience of teaching adults to use complicated
    mechanical and/or electronic machinery I wouldn't start where many/most do.
    Nor would it be in a conventional class structure.

    It would be an interesting challenge to work out the answers to your question
    though. However, Zoopsia confirms the difficulty:
    Strange but true:
    I've seen/experienced ballroom taught in totally different ways and the
    most effective was with a small group of couples, lots of practice, only
    targeted teaching and personal when appropriate. It's the way I'd try
    to go in tango as each individual couple can achieve and perceive
    their own individual progress.
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Yeah, if you're not teaching the "adas", they're thinking, "what kind of a teacher are you?"
  13. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    I was always trying to teach the a-ha's rather than the adas... It worked for some of the people I taught privately, but I could never get a class going.... too much competition from teachers who were more well known.
  14. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member


    People try dancing for all different reasons. It could be they saw a show and thought it looks cool and want to do the same things. (Good luck with that, buddy.) It could be they're looking to get out of the house and meet people. It could be they're looking to try something fun and different with a significant other and it's really just a fun thing to do on a Tuesday evening. And none of that is wrong. They're not going to want an in-depth technique lesson. They're looking to have a bit of fun. And that's fine.

    Also, I think it's kind of pointless to get into the real nitty-gritty of dance fundamentals with absolute beginners. No, don't teach them incorrectly. But if you get them bogged down in how to really use their feet, and how to really establish a strong connection with their partner, without getting to anything else, they're just going to get bogged down with it. I don't know how many very fundamental things my teachers let slide. They would mention it, and show it, and get me to work on it...but they didn't let non-mastery of that fundamental technique hold me up. And then inevitably, somewhere down the line, it would click and all make sense. Even when I thought I understood a concept, something would click and I'd understand it at a completely different level. Based on countless conversations with others, I think this is a completely normal and fairly common occurrence. Hammering on a point before the student has the necessary context and background to make sense of it will get you absolutely nowhere...and meanwhile the student has likely become discouraged and bored and quit. Not exactly effective.

    Also, I know it is possible for teachers to really emphasize a matter of fundamental technique, as applied in a given circumstance, and for the students to completely miss the technique and only focus on the New Cool Trick. That's not the teacher's fault, it's the student's.
  15. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    i could use this as a sig, or a teaching ethos; its brilliant, Peaches.

    every time I hear somebody say "The most important thing in tango is.....X"

    i think of Monty Python's Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition sketch....:)
  16. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    The explanation that makes the most sense to me is that of the "climbing the mountain" - there are many possible routes to the top, and some of them will involve different tools and techniques.

    Oooh, I just remembered another analogy. I've just re-read Iain M Banks' "Matter", and he describes the progression of technological achievement as "different routes up the face" - so that different races all eventually achieve a similar level of achievement, but that the routes these races trace may give them all different capabilities.

    EDIT: the classic example is the cross in AT - I must have learnt at least 6 different ways for it to be led / followed. (Obviously, the way I teach it is the best ;) )
  17. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I had a couple on a workshop on Sunday. They'd only been dancing AT for 14 months, and they were good - I'd class them as intermediate-level dancers, definitely the best in the workshop.

    But that's - to me - astonishingly rapid progress. Frankly, I'm happy if I can get someone milonga-ready within 6 months; that is, to a stage where they can at least dance at a milonga without serious problems. And I'd say it usually takes people a couple of years at least to get to intermediate stage - but of course all these terms are subjective.

    And I do have a structure to my teaching - but yes, if there's a way to speed the process up I'd be in favour of it.
  18. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I have always envisioned my progress to be like a spiral staircase. I keep going back over and over and over the same elements...but each time with another layer of understanding and ability. After a long while, you find you've made some upward progress.
  19. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Well I had a lady from the Czech Republic who had her first lesson and was a natural; she could follow without any trouble, musically, blah blah blah. I just think we should encourage
    Eastern European immigration on condition that they learn AT...
  20. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Many good points made here. I would like to add....
    I believe this to be, popular, but incorrect. I believe it should be, "...but what's most important is deciding what works for you. Yes, credibility (of given teacher) has a place, but this is very easy to see. There are certain fundamentals of movement necessary to achieve the improvisational, yet technically correct, freeformed evolution, yet becoming syllabutized (out of necessity), feel and structure of AT. These fundamentals are not a mystery. There is a proper way to stand, walk, use the feet, etc. This has to do with basic health and physics rather dance. Either a teacher has these or doesn't. Past that, it is all, not a matter of who has more credentials, or reputation, or work, rather who is teaching something that worls for me (me being whomever), and, later, me and partner.

Share This Page