Tango Argentino > How Useful is the DVIDA Syllabus?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Br0nze, Mar 29, 2010.

  1. v22TTC

    v22TTC New Member

    Steve: I don't think he was hoist by his own petard (one of my favourite phrases, by the way), but being as true to himself as he could be - giving us enough information that we could read between the lines: I reckon it was this:-

    'I am paying my respects to my instructor, by passing on his method... but I am teaching Tango for the love, and don't want you to be led astray by this thing that, frankly, I would rather you didn't know.'


    OK, it was a waste of time and money, but he taught it in such an embarrassed and responsible way that no harm was done; and he does more than enough free, extra-curricular stuff for us to have made up for it.

    I'd still love to know if it actually does have any useful purpose though....

    Re: Improvisation/patterns: Our entire cognitive and sensory apparatus is based upon forming patterns, so we'll naturally do so in TA to some extent (and some 'moves' go really well together - better than any of the alternative permutations).

    It's like 'No - It Must Be Pure Improvisation' is the highest peak to be aimed for, but in reality.... I take it to be a bit grayer: 'Don't get too attached to the completion of your molinete, son, because anything could be cruising into that arc, at any point - be prepared to spontaneously adapt immediately, at all times'.
  2. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Well said.
  3. v22TTC

    v22TTC New Member

    Dchester: I think the difference might be that a sports drill or kata is so different in form from anything that you would actually do in the actual performance of that sport/martial art, as a thing in itself - it's understood that you'll only use each separate bit of it now and then; not the whole thing, in that sequence.

    But the 8CB is similar enough to what you might use, in that sequence (barring the back-step, hopefully), in performance of that dance - it gets stored in a different part of the brain than a kata would.

    Some people struggle to not use the 8CB on the dancefloor, despite their profound desire to not use it... 'nobody' attempts to run through a kata in a fight.
  4. DanceMentor

    DanceMentor Administrator

    Most masters in Argentine tango in Buenos Aires either have a syllabus or have methods that are repeated for many students. There is going always be discussion about artistry versus step patterns in their raw form. But the artistry generally comes after getting some basic knowledge of the patterns. There is very little way around that.

    It would be interesting to put some people in a room that have never seen Argentine Tango before. Then play the music and ask them to dance with a partner (or by themselves) and "make up" steps. Then we could start to see what artistry without prior knowledge would produce.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    I'm not into fighting, thus I have no idea what a kata is. An example I'll use is basketball. Like most sports I've played, you have to be able to improvise to be good at it, but that doesn't change the fact that there are fundamental skills that you need to be good at, and thus one practices them all the time. Lots of dribbling drills come to mind where you practice various sequences, knowing full well that all of the various bits will likely be used, but not in a predetermined sequence.

    To me, that's very much like drills I do in tango (the 8cb being one such drill). I practiced the 8cb quite a bit (especially when first starting out), but I've never done that pattern in a milonga. To me, it's just a drill.
  6. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    It's a lazy concept apparently invented by Argentinian teachers
    as a quick and easy teaching aid for classes. So yes you'll come
    across it in BsAs apparently and all over the World with the excuse
    that it gets people dancing.

    So it becomes the first thing a beginner learns and then, as if that's
    not bad enough, teachers use it to start some figure from a count
    or position number within the Basic 8. It just ingrains the whole
    concept even more.

    However people in small groups can be taught without any reference
    to the 8CB. My belief is that the 8CB (and even worse with the DB!)
    should be avoided.

    Yes, a neat explanation of why the Basic/8CB should not be used as any
    basis for AT. As a beginner you end up stuck in the pattern and yet to
    be successful in making anything of the dance you have to throw it away.

    It's one of the reasons for my signature.


    And not just for avoidance/navigation but also for reasons of musicality.
  7. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    It just goes to show that we are all different; some of that difference is in
    the teaching, some is in the attitudes and experiences of the students.
    You have been fortunate to have seen it only as a drill, not being tempted
    to use it otherwise.

    But I have experienced teaching that uses it as the basis of the dance.
    And it wasn't one isolated example plus I have DVD using a variant,
    the 8CB without the Dreaded Backstep.
  8. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    To counterbalance that, in their book Gotta Tango they dismiss the Basic8
    as a useful pattern for on the dancefloor. Then they introduce another
    basic pattern instead, effectively a 6 step parallelogram. I find the writing
    style both in "Gotta Tango" and "Tango: Our Dance" not very helpful
    to learning. It's not that they don't try, they may almost be trying too hard.
    Conveying a dance in words and static pictures is never going to be easy.

    Teaching it to beginners is never going to work but explaining that as the
    target is no bad thing. But first you have to become skilled in all the various
    techniques which takes practice, lots of it. Then when you have the spare
    mental capacity, improvisation becomes a possibility.

    Well I for one never would as you well know Steve!
    Comparisons of the actual Tango and WCS dances aren't very relevant
    even though there are parallels in other broader areas. Tango is improvised
    in close hold and WCS is an open dance where the pattern is part
    of the fundamental connection for the synchronisation of lead and follow
    much like most (all?) latin and jive style dances.

    The levels of potential improvisation are very different.
  9. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    OK, this explains the difference in our view of it. I would agree that it is most definitely not the basis of tango. If people are claiming it's the basis of tango, then I understand why people would react so negatively to it.

    When I first was exposed to the 8CB, it was made clear that the term "basic step" in tango had no relation to what basic step means in ballroom (and that tango was very much an improvised dance).

    As an aside, I will say that I've had more than one teacher say that it's a shame that some people are trying to take the backstep out of tango.
  10. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I don't use the 8CB - I appreciate that it can be useful, but it's just too much of a danger, people too often use it as a sequence in social dancing. Fundamentally, the 8CB doesn't teach you lead-and-follow.

    Yes, that's pretty much why I don't use it :D
  11. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    There are patterns that occur in social dancing, definitely.

    The most obvious one is the giro. I've come to the conclusion that the giro has to be learned at least partially as a pattern. It's simply too difficult to learn / teach it as a set of improvised-and-separately-led steps, and it's just not a "natural" way to walk around someone.

    You could also argue that there are pattern-like elements with other movements - for example, the cross and the ocho cortado.
  12. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yeah, but a syllabus doesn't have to involve patterns.

    Yes, the DVIDA syllabus is heavily pattern-based, but that's not essential.

    I like the idea of a syllabus. I just don't like the idea of having it all about patterns.
  13. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I's agree with you on that. (Didn't we have a discussion like this last year at some point?)

    A syllabus as related to dance, to me, doesn't mean you have patterns necessarily, but maybe a set of concepts that may build on one another and be taught in some sort of order. Or maybe just a set of guidelines or concepts that a teacher feels needs to be covered in a series of classes.

    Some patterns may come in to play (like giros or ocho cortado) as a means to develop a concept , or because they are very common but aren't the reason for a syllabus, bu that's just my take on it.
  14. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Only because they fit together nicely so get repeated. But they can still
    be lead movement by movement.

    Well this depends entirely on what you mean by the giro. A giro is just
    Spanish for turn and as such it can be lead step by individual step.
    Just watch Ricardo Vidort and others. You could just as easily argue
    that any turn is a giro.

    If you mean the more choreographed open giro I have to agree largely
    because it is an exaggeration of the grapevine with over-turned swivels.
    And it isn't natural. And usually it isn't musical as it's a long pattern
    usually executed to completion regardless of the music.
    It's up to you to decide if that's what you should be teaching.

    The cross is a distinctive feature obviously but it can be used or omitted.
    And it is only a change of foot placement by the lady as a result of an indication
    by the man which consequently involves a weight change.
    In other words, except for the necessary weight change, it is entirely
    lead and is not a learned pattern though the quality of its execution
    can be improved through coaching and practice.

    The ocho cortado exists as a name because the Nuevo Three coined it
    or so they claim. They saw it as a repeated pattern but the milongueros
    don't seem to have seen it like that and the constituent parts can all be
    used separately and/or interrupted and/or be used with others.
  15. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    The grapevine motion (forward-side-back-side etc.)

    Hmmm, I never thought about not teaching it at all... I dunno, it seems to be such a fundamental component of social dancing, at least in the places I dance, that it'd seem remiss not to teach it.
  16. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Ok then we could probably have a long exchange about this but not here.
    I believe it should indeed be taught lead step by lead step.
    Too often I've danced with ladies who having been taught to power their
    own giros go off on their own when sensing when the initial movement.
    You have to let them go even if it is not what was intended.

    Yes it is. But it is what is taught and learned that I'm questioning.
  17. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I don't know who the Nuevo Three are, but I learned the ocho cortado from Susana Miller, who I believe got it from Cacho Dante. That was long before Nuevo hit the dance floor, I think.
  18. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Oh you may well be right - who really knows?

    The Nuevo Three are Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas and Chicho Frumboli.

    Here is what Rick McGarrey says which is based on an interview with
    Gustavo Naveira apparently:

    After these early discoveries, incredible things began to happen. Naveira remembers: “One night we discovered that there were 98 possible ganchossame turn.) They also discovered the ocho cortado:ocho cortado... he invented it, the milongueros are using it, and they don't even know where it came from." Sadly, he says, Susana Miller eventually stole it from them, and they no longer have it.

    And the full post is here:
    This page raises a few hackles with certain people though largely
    I feel it is fair comment when the context is appreciated.

    The relevant part of a long interview with Fabian Salas is here:

    Happy reading!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 26, 2017
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Rick McGarrey has jumped the shark. His interpretation of what is said in that interview needs some work.
    I hope everyone who is interested in this subject actually reads what was said, NOT what Rick's interpretation of what he thinks was said.

    He (Rick) can do whatever he wants with his own website, which for the most part I have found to be excellent. I note, however, that when someone resorts to parody, and casual interpretation of someone else's words, they begin to lose credibility among those of us who are seriously trying to sort fact from fiction.
  20. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    Well I'd agree that somehow his tone is at odds with the rest of his site.
    However the interview with Fabian Salas by Keith Elshaw confirms the
    general point I was clarifying about the Ocho Cortado. I wasn't bothered
    about Rick McGarrey's sneering which is irrelevant here.

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