Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by bordertangoman, Feb 6, 2009.
hey i've been waiting patiently for you to drop by.
I think this is completely symmetrical - the main question is for me what role they came to work on - leaders can fill in as followers when there are to many of them, and vice versa, but they still need to have an opportunity to work on what they want to work on. I was not complaining about them switiching roles to make the class work, i was complaining about women considered followers even when they have self identified as leaders. I have become mainly aware of that because of a rant of a female friend of mine, who is an excellent follower, but who takes beginner classes to work on her leading. When there is a imbalance she usually ends up following most of the class - we wouldn't pick an arbitrary man to do that.
Actually, as a man who follows (badly) the same problem happens in reverse, too. Especially when there are more followers than leaders there are many many followers who would prefer to be lead than to lead me.
(But i think we have very different experiences of classes - the part of the sentence "there are 5 extra women seated" makes no sense to me - here there would be 1 extra woman seated, and 2 couples of 2 women dancing, and on the next rotation the 2 women leading would switch to being followes, and 2 of the women that were following would switch to leading, and that way everybody would get maximum time in their preferred role (well, at least in theory - some people cheat because they are too selfish to help everybody learn) - it would really only a problem if there were 2 extra female followers and 2 extra male followers - right now the male followers would probably be subtly forced to become leaders, and not rotate through as followers)
As a leader i dance with anybody. As a follower i don't dance at milongas, mainly because while following is interesting and something i think is very good for me to work on, it is not as enjoyable for me when a leader is on the same level as me - it becomes fun with a few good leaders, but they are at the milonga to have fun, too, and i KNOW(from having danced with people who follow like i do) i am not that exciting as a follower, so its reserved for practicas/class.
My informal rules:
leader (any gender) -> I hate them! Competition! Try to outmaneouver them so I get to dance with the enjoyable followers, and not them! I wish they just all stayed home!
follower(any gender) -> Wonderful! Potential dance partner! Be nice to them! Ask them!
It gets only difficult when people switch, and i tend to go by the last dance i noticed, or by signs that i have noticed (like when they change shoes), or really, really obvious cabecos, or when they ask me, or when they are good friends i feel ok to ask them to switch roles just for that tanda, just for me (and that applies at the moment only with 1 female leader who does an amazing milonga, and 1 male leader who is great fun with more techno-ish nuevo (though we tend to switch lead, so it is something different) - as i said above i have at the moment nobody who i would ask to lead me (i will get there, though)).
You know, at times it is very hard to switch from leading to following within one class, especially if the material is not just connection exercises but something more elaborated. I am getting better at that now, but when I just started leading, it was almost impossible, as leading demanded a very different mindset, and a lot of concentration.
Also, there are followers who cannot lead (they hadn't tried at all, or the material in the class is above their head, because they are advanced followers, but still beginning leaders). So if they do not take a leader's role, it's not always out of being selfish. Sometimes they just cannot.
I do not think it is a student's duty to provide the right leader/follower ratio. It is nice if they volunteer and help to make the class work for everybody, not just for themselves, but primarily it is an instructor's responsibility.
Wrong. It's 666. Of course.
..take it as a gift then... for thats what it was
One of the drawbacks of the written word is that it's easy to misinterpret what is said or expressed or viewed as a "rant". I have written ranting articles for journals and ranted embarrassingly in front of a Sky News camera - both rants were utterly justifed. But tango? Nah. Never will talking about tango deserve one of my quality rants.
But yeah, you are right. People will have their preferences, foibles, choices etc. I guess, no matter the superficiality or shallowness of it. That's life. That's Man. Move on. Ho-hum.
My sister on many occasions has looked me squarely in the face and spoken to me in German. I don't speak German. She does this having just held a conversation with her German children. I'll look at her back, smile and wait for her to realise her error. Then, she'll roll her eyes and laugh and apologise. I daresay, had I been a male leader dancing with a female follower with the capacity to lead herself - I'd take the same stance. Grin and wait for her to stop back-leading. Smile and think, aaah, a lady that can lead. A female knowing how to lead (and indeed for men knowing how to follow) for me is like taking the time out to learn another language - an enriched addition to a language you already know.
And I wish you well in your other language, Lilly. Your language of dance.
Aawww, thank you, Heather. I wish we could dance together sometime!
The gods always shine on those who are brave enough to step forward so yup, one day we shall find ourselves in each others gardens where we will have that blissful dance - yay!
I was reading the other day that SF has one of the largest populations of female leaders in the world. Is that true? How does it affect the dynamics of the dancing community?
[answering that question would seem to be akin to trying to sing an aria with your mouth full of stones]
Yeah, but this only works when you have a rigorously-enforced culture of rotation within a class.
I've been in classes where there's been no rotation, none at all - the only swapping that happened was when people took pity on the poor so-and-so who'd been standing out for 20 minutes...
Tango teachers, by-and-large, are rubbish at rotation - it's one of the things that annoys me most.
Anyway, so I think that, in tango classes, if people are willing to swap roles to make numbers as close to even as possible, then I for one am grateful for them doing so.
hmmm, Carmen?? No, La traviata?? no still don't have it...
And I read more and more material in books published decades ago, it becomes more and more obvious that there are many people who teach AT who are rank amteurs at teaching classes. They may be good at tango, but there's more to it than that.
This doesn't mean, of course, that people who teach other dances are by default any better, but the AT community celebrates the lack of standardization of the dance at the same time it asks people to dance at what is really a pretty high level of "pure" lead / follow, leading with the torso, interpretation of the music, etc.
On the subject of following, I too have missed out on things in class because a lack of "follows" caused me to volunteer to follow for a while. When the introductory period was over, and I resumed leading, I had no idea what to do as a leader.
In this regard, teachers should make an effort to teach things to both the leaders and the followers much more frequently than usually happens. Now, there's a challenge.
A most interesting comment; I got some teaching instruction from my teachers in Cambridge and a vote of confidence. My experience is that almost every teacher or couple teaching have something different to offer. My following is fairly basic as I rarely dance it, but I can and I understand how to. At beginers level everyone swaps roles in the first exercises since a lot of the basic movements invovle co-ordination, balance, connection etc, which everyone needs to learn.
Ditto to that. In order to teach you need two separate skill sets.
1) How to teach. Among other things, this involves how to communicate in an unambiguous way. Also, how to focus/organize the class, so that what you are trying to teach gets adequately covered.
2) Knowledge on the subject/skills you are teaching.
Too many teachers focus on only one of these two entities.
I would make 1) more specific; how to teach people to dance ( a different set of skills to teaching an academic subject. I have looked at the methods other dance forms use such as imagery; contact improvisation.
How to teach a specific technique/ movement then how to make that movement Affettuoso with feeling and creat the dynamics.
How to get people unused to dancing to relax and respond to what they hear in the music.
Separate names with a comma.