Tango Argentino > from salsa to tango

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by olamalam, Nov 28, 2016.

  1. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    Dear all,

    I'm a salsa dancer since 2009 (also I've done contemporary for 3 years).
    2 weeks ago I started taking tango classes with my wife and I noticed that my salsa background is not helping me very much :)

    So any suggestions to a beginner who switches from salsa to tango? (btw. no, I didn't quit salsa)

  2. Reuven Thetanguero

    Reuven Thetanguero Active Member

    I have been Ballroom and Latin dancer for years before embarking on Tango. That was 20 years ago...
    If there is one tip I can give you, it's do not start with steps - this comes later. First learn the Tango walk, weight shifting, posture, connection with your follower and embrace. Avoid teachers who start with amalgamations and steps.
  3. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Don't try to fall back on your background in terms of looking for specific answers and immediate solutions. Approach learning tango as a true beginner, assume you know nothing. Don't compare and contrast, at least not in class.
    Then you may find that your previous dancing experience helps you more than you may initially think. ;)
    Any previous experience may help or hinder undertaking a new endeavor. It is all the matter of how you use it.
    twnkltoz, Chrisa Assis and Zoopsia59 like this.
  4. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Look around in your class, compare and contrast with other leaders without dance experience.
    If they perform better, if you're the dork that can't walk, can't move to tango music:
    Embrace your wife tightly, don't save on tears - quit tango immediately. ;)
  5. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Any background you have will be an obstactle at first.
    After some long time when you start to map one activity to another it will help you.
  6. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    As others have pointed out, your background will create both advantages and disadvantages. This seems to be true of any background in a different movement form. Ballroom, ballet, skating, martial arts... all these things both help and hinder in different ways.

    If you are learning tango from someone who is really a ballroom or latin teacher who is just adding tango to their class roster (but is unaware of the major differences) you may find that experienced tango dancers will still look at you as a total newbie even after you've been doing it awhile. Make sure you are getting instruction from people who are regular participants in the local tango scene as social dancers.

    Hopefully you have teachers who are not only experienced as tango social dancers, but who are aware of the typical problems encountered by people from a salsa background. But if not, you should be able to make good progress if you just treat it as something totally new that you are a total beginner for.

    I haven't done a lot of salsa myself, but one of the biggest issues I seen for salsa dancers is keeping the lower body "quiet" (but this seems to be a bigger issue for the women, IME). I suppose if you haven't done any traveling dances, then learning to navigate while leading will present a problem that you didn't have to deal with doing "spot" dances. That's why learning to walk properly is so important. Even as a beginner, you have to move around the floor, and if you have a nice embrace and walk, you will progress on to other things faster because you can at least get out there and do SOMETHING in a crowded milonga.

    But before you get discouraged, I'll say that doing any movement form or dancing will ultimately be helpful once you learn the proper technique. For one thing, you're already used to moving and improvising steps to music. You're used to working at a hobby and the effort required to get anywhere in an activity where other people substantially affect your ability to participate (unlike say, painting or photography) IMO, Tango takes far more discipline to master, but unless you are looking for immediate gratification, that shouldn't be an issue. You already understand about leading and following (although HOW to do it in tango is different... the concept is the same) You're accustomed to coordinating your body to do something you are telling it to do. Many people come to Tango with NO dance or movement background and their body is alien to them at first!

    You should however be prepared for the fact that many people who take up tango eventually completely drop their previous dances once they get addicted. ;)
    Mladenac and itwillhappen like this.
  7. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    I agree. My instructor is also keen on teaching the basics first. But the thing is, my wife is a bit impatient, she'd like to climb stairs quickly (she is a prof ballroom dancer). Hence, now we take both beginner and intermediate classes at the same time!
  8. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    Yes, my previous dance experience helps me in some ways:
    1- I know that I'll learn more in practice hours than the classes itself. Hence I'm trying to attend practices as much as I can
    2- I have confidence asking girls to dance from any level (well, I still feel anxious while dancing with advanced girls)
    3- I know that if I fail to learn basics, I'll struggle at later stages
  9. Chrisa Assis

    Chrisa Assis Member

    I think the people above have given you great tips!
    You might be feeling a bit frustrated now but you need to give yourself some time and you will see your background will come in handy very soon.
    A few things that I think will help are:
    • firstly ask your teacher for suggestions. You can go over and ask them exactly what you are asking us right here, I am sure they will be able and happy to help you!
    • because I too have contemporary and salsa as part of my dance background, at a first level what you take from salsa is the fact that it is another partner dance. It is of course very very different from tango but still it does demand that you cooperate with your partner to create something together.
      Consider trying some milonga classes as well. Milonga shares as much with Salsa as it does with Tango, it is a partner dance, it demands that the two partners keep the rhythm steadily--whether they are marking the tempo or not--and at the same time it is as improvisational as Tango and uses all Tango basic elements--walks, pivots, rebounds, gyros...
      Lastly taking up milonga will help you get passed the fact that Tango might feel too hard and/or demanding and/or boring compared to salsa. It is normal, almost everyone feels that way in the beginning, simply because you can start having fun with salsa a lot faster compared to Tango. After a few salsa classes you can go out and dance and have a great time, with Tango...not going to happen..! But if you add some milonga classes it will make the transition smoother.
    • Contemporary dance will help you figure out how to create movement. I am not sure which technique you have been taught--as different contemporary techniques will give you slightly different backgrounds--but in general in contemporary dance we experience movement throughout the whole body, even when we are using isolated movement. I am sure you have experienced sublime moments where you might be just standing but you are feeling that you are dancing, and you are indeed dancing by keeping still or where maybe your finger tips are only moving but you feel that you are fully dancing.
      You want that same feeling in Tango. Often times people with a ballet or contemporary background feel that Tango is too robotic...and it takes them some time to find a way around feeling restrained by the form, the posture, the partner etc. If though you manage to make posture, for example, a part of your dance and not just another thing you have to do before you start dancing, you will free yourself from that frustrating feeling, and contemporary can help you a lot with that.
    I might be completely off here, I am only sharing based on personal experience and based on what my students have struggled with. I hope this is helpful, if you share more about your experience, what you are having trouble with and what your dance background looks like exactly, then I can help a bit further! :)
  10. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I had to post this:

    "Tango will speak to the masochist inside you" :cool:
  11. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    I know some ballroom and contemporary dancers with so big ego that hinders their progress.
    And some dance for years and still have ballroom stance.
  12. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

  13. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    I'm doing classes of Utku Kuley.
    In spite of his engineering background, he teaches only tango :)

    I totally agree. At the moment I struggle when there is another couple in front of me. I'm happy to do the very basic walking steps around the floor but I haven't learned anything to do on the spot yet. Apart from "keeping the lower body quiet", salsa dancers steps forward (and lands on) with the ball of the feet. So this is how I step in tango now. I put ball of the feet first, heel last which is incorrect AFAIK.

    I love salsa but I have a problem with Istanbul salsa scene which I haven't seen in tango so far. too many arrogant dancers, to few decent parties in salsa. So the number of salsa parties I go dropped from 5 times a week
  14. olamalam

    olamalam New Member

    Lol! salsa dancer who'd like to give you "private lesson" and next morning sends you 15 text messages!
    does this not happen in tango???
  15. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    My advice: The first things are to focus on the embrace, and on the walk. Those are two things that make tango so different from any other partner dance.

    Also, patience will be needed, as leading can be difficult to learn. You will get lots of conflicting advice that you have to sort through, as not all women will want the same thing from a leader (despite what some people might say). Two things about leading: the lead needs to be clear, and it needs to be comfortable for the follower.
  16. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    The lead needs to be clear to the follower. ;)
    And every follower demands different lead,
    and different depending on the mood or type of music. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2016
  17. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, that's what I was trying to say. (I made an assumption that the lead is always clear to the leader.)

  18. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Oh, if only that were true!
    Mladenac and Lilly_of_the_valley like this.
  19. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    I think salsa/bachata is a nice place to come from. You're already comfortable dancing close from the start! :)
  20. itwillhappen

    itwillhappen Active Member

    Be prepared that a somehow gifted follower can dance much earlier "proficient" on a milonga than an equal ambitioned leader. Belief me - I took four classes at the same time. :cool:
    You as a couple should find an agreement how to deal with that - not more and not less.

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