Tango Argentino > Teachers: do you dance at Milongas?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by LoveTango, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Thumbs up on those comments, Gssh!
  2. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

  3. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I agree.

    I agree again.
  4. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    This is what people mean when they talk about forgetting ballroom.
    You are looking for a magic bullet yet there isn't one other then putting
    in the time, the effort and the miles. A true non-choreographed dance
    is improvised step by step in the moment and is influenced by your
    partner, the music and the surroundings.

    What basic structure of stepping? Look at this video and see how simply
    the milongueros can move to the music but it's clearly not boring.


    It isn't shuffling and it's more complicated than first it looks
    but not to the lady who is a picture of calmness.

    I have little doubt about how I broke through the barrier of steps
    and sequences and that was by finding partners who would practise
    with me because they were getting something out of it too.
    First it was only technique and gradually it became dancing to the music,
    many whole afternoons or evenings have passed that way in moments.

    This is a dance that can be practised in the small space of a kitchen,
    you have the advantage of a whole studio to play in.

    Gssh says a lot more about this in his long and worthwhile post,
    effectively saying there is no shortcut and I would add that the time
    it takes and the improvements you make depend entirely on you.

    Learn how to turn simply and navigate around the obstacles, no doubt
    you are good at that in ballroom yet it is different in tango.
    You can dance the 8CB repeatedly if you must and, as has been stated
    elsewhere, change the tempo with the music, turn it, change the
    backstep to weight changes or sidesteps. Use a tiny right foot backstep
    behind the left foot for One will enable a re-orientating turn for instance.
    There is no substitute for playing and exploring the possibilities offered
    by not having any set patterns at all.
    You have it all about face. The 8CB has no elements that "belong" to it.
    It's a choreographed sequence for easy (lazy?) teaching made up of
    some of the things tango dancers may do and it's thoroughly misleading.
    I've seen it claimed it includes everything but that is totally ridiculous.
    Arguably the salida and the resolution are ok but the automatic cross
    for me definitely is not. Not that at one time I knew any better.

    My view is that when I find a teacher who teaches the 8CB to followers,
    stay away from their lessons/teaching. Followers should never learn it
    because the men won't be encouraged to learn to lead and followers
    will automatically cross as a result of the man stepping outside.
    I've experienced the dreaded automatic cross and resulting confusion.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Rock steps, turns (giro), front ochos to the leader's right, ocho cortado, back ochos, slow low boleos, and don't forget that pauses can go in between any of this stuff if needed.
  6. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    For me, a follower with a good embrace makes a simple dance satisfying.

    The catch 22 in this, is that the follower may not be able to trust and relax enough to give you a great embrace, unless the leader is good enough to make her feel like she can surrender. If she's on edge, not sure what the leader is doing, it's difficult to feel the connection.
  7. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Ah, ok, if that's your problem, maybe this will help...

    I agree pretty much with everything the others have said so far. I would like to add one anecdote that helped me move past that barrier.

    So I went to one of the local tango festivals about a year and a half ago, and one of the classes was called "Essential Steps". I was kind of curious on what steps might be considered "essential", and it was in the beginner track, so I tried it out. What the class ended up being about was navigation. The teacher proposed 3 basic combinations.

    1. Rockstep turn, starting with the left foot forward, then rotating the follower to the left. The goal is to be able to get a full 180 degrees from where you started. In the middle of the rockstep turn, the leader double steps in the middle, so you start facing forward, and end up doing ochos the opposite direction you started.
    2. Simple quarter turn to the left, starting with a back ocho, ending with a forward ocho/cross, and walking out.
    3. Ocho cortado, and variations involving continuing the turn to the right and ending with the cortado cross back to the left.

    So we practiced these steps, and practiced them again, then worked it so we could go back and forth between the three. In particular, 1 and 2 tie well together. Then the teacher revealed that the point of the class was that the steps themselves weren't essential, but the idea of having a couple navigational movements to fall back on is great for a beginning leader. Blocked from the front? Start your rock turn and look to your left with the corner of your eye to see who is coming up behind. Someone racing up on you from the back? Quarter turn back around to the front. Danger to the left? Ocho cortado to protect and move your partner out of the way, then use the moment to take a quick peek behind and to the right.

    Once you have a couple rotational movements you can stick together in a pinch, you will feel a LOT more comfortable navigating the floor and moving just in one place. You don't have to pick the three I mentioned, but they are good ones. I'd choose one turn to the left and one turn to the right at the very least. Get so you can them without even thinking. Then build off them. And perform them with different musicality.

    There's always the possibility of getting those steps stuck in your head and getting in a rut... but at least then you're moving down the road. ;) Once you get up some momentum, you can hop out and get back on the improvisational pavement.
  8. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I'm very grateful for all of the helpful comments, and I have enough experience to recognise lots of good advice, which I will try and apply to my own dancing. I talked about my 'problems' to another dancer last night, and have been thinking through whether the perception of my own difficulties are actually the real problem, or just the symptoms of a different problem.

    A few thoughts:
    1. I don't spend anything like enough time dancing tango to stand any real chance of improvement, except at a painfully slow rate. I have to find a way of changing that, or I might as well just accept that tango is not for me.
    2. I need to find another teacher. Mine teaches 'moves' exclusively. So not walking, the embrace/connection, musicality, navigation - not even how to link the 'moves'. Tango is not the dance he teaches, surely?
    3. A few private lessons with one of the area's better teachers (and there are better teachers, but I'm never free when they hold their classes) might help me to sort out some fundamentals.
    4. I must re-read (or, rather, read properly) Paz/Hart's 'Gotta Tango'. The dances I have been watching on YouTube fit their idea of the follower dancing around the leader and the leader dancing around the room. I know their terminology is baffling, but I will give it another go.
    5. I need to be brave enough to start attending out-of-town milongas, hopeful of dancing with more experienced followers. Of course, I am fearful of finding them cliquey, and finding myself sitting alone in a corner, all night, and never getting a dance; but there is not an opportunity for me to dance tango in my nearest big city until 16 April, and anywhere else is unknown territory and over an hour's drive away.
    6. Perhaps I should try and start a regular practica at the studio - there are quite a lot of tango dancers around here, and at least I'd always be free to attend!
    I don't know why I'm writing this, really. Catharsis, I guess! And tomorrow is another day.
  9. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    True. I mean, I don't agree. The most impressive demon I've ever seen was by Sebastian & Mariana (after they gave a discovery class) and they just made walks and stops. Not even a cruzada. But you have to be a master to create good dances with such a reduced material.
  10. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    And I'm not sure if you're even looking for comment.
    So I'll be brief.
    Spending time is your friend as is the right teacher.
    In Tango sometimes the right teacher is yourself.

    I recognise the style of your teacher as will others,
    but you have rumbled him now.
    Carefully choose one (and only one for the moment)
    even if it entails a journey - maybe to Exeter.
    If you've chosen correctly have the confidence in what he teaches.
    Gotta Tango set me back until I realised that that
    was no more the tango I wanted to dance than that
    of my original teacher. It's written by an Argentinian
    who seems to have learned in the US.
    Your YouTube watching appears to be demos and performance,
    Alberto's dance doesn't equip you for close embrace tango
    in the moment in crowded conditions.

    You said once you like Oscar Casas - a much better example
    than anything the Paz's show.

    I have no idea how you learn and develop abilities,
    mental or physical, but my head needs to understand
    the fundamentals and they are in BsAs not the US nor
    Europe. The best window available to us from afar
    is undoubtedly www.tangoandchaos.org.

    Yes definitely as long as you practise too of course
    and not adopt the role of mentor/teacher/coach.
  11. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    Forgive me if I'm repeating what others have said--I haven't yet taken the time to read the entire thread. (And it would probably tick me off anyhow.)

    First off, I loved Sub's thread about needing to go through the step monster phase as a part of learning. There are so many valuable things to get out of the "fancy" steps (and I know I stand a fair chance of being flamed for that statment, but I'll stand by it). And I think those are important things to learn and develop in order for a simple-but-satisfying dance to work.

    But aside from that, I think one of the things that makes simple-but-satisfying...well, satisfying...is an incredible embrace, and nuance within your own body. One teacher I had a workshop with at some point (ooooh, bad, tango dancers who were trying to make money...boo! hiss!...and they were *gasp* Argentine...you know they were just cheap hucksters out there to make a buck and sell a bunch of crap! Now that we've gotten that out of the way, those who would be inclined to jump down my throat on this point can just stop before they start.) made the point that the reason why such simplicity could be so satisfying with the older, more experienced milongueros is because they could transmit so much information through their body, and because you could feel the music through them even when they were not moving. Things like holding their bodies differently for soft-n-lyrical bits of music, or tensing and rigidity to go with sharp, staccato music. I don't know about the older milongueros, but I've felt it with younger, experienced leaders and it feels amazing.

    Also, for simple-but-satisfying the walk has got to be exquisite. There is no way around that. And rhythmical, and with the music. Not shuffling along, not without variation. It's possible...but oh-so-rare. And if a leader can't do this...I'd prefer they go the step monster route (led well), because at least then i won't be bored.
  12. ant

    ant Member

    If you can, try getting to the Tango Mango in April, it will help loads.

    Wilmslow is a bit nearer and I love the ways she teaches.
  13. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Gosh! Nice Post Peaches..

    I need to frame this and use as my goals for dancing.......
  14. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    As regards the first point...I'll see what I can turn up for you this evening when I'm at home. Something about work and YouTube just doesn't mix. (*sarcasm; Can you believe they actually want us working during the day? The nerve! *sarcasm off;)

    As regards the second. I would tell you to "just dance to the music", but try it at home, alone...in the dark if you're happier that way. Find a good piece of music that makes you have to GET UP AND MOVE!...and then do it. It doesn't have to be tango music, it can be anything you want. (Hell, one of my all time favorite alternative tango tracks is Natacha Atlas--either "Kidda" or "Eye of the Duck". Or "Aicha" by Khaled. Point is, I can't sit still with those songs on.) Put the music on, crank up the volume, and think about just moving to it. Don't think about "Argentine Tango"--think about letting your feet play with the rhythm, or swaying your body with the melody. Think about how you would walk to it. Once you get comfortable, think about restricting yourself to fwd/bkwd/side/rock steps. Forget about leading anything. Forget about trying to think of tango steps. Just think about moving.

    You're a dancer. Other genres, sure, but I have to believe you have felt that overwhelming urge to move your body to music. I have to believe you can feel the difference between sharp and full of tension, or soft and flowing...and how you could move differently to that. I think you're hung up on dancing Argentine Tango, and forgetting that inspiration. Forward, backward, side, and rock steps. Go from there...with inspiration.
  15. JohnEm

    JohnEm Well-Known Member

    It's the fancy steps that seem to keep the girls going to classes.
    Men don't need them - they come out of the basics being right,
    not the other way round.

    I see you're using the Peaches attack is the best line of defence tactic
    so I've removed it!
    He spoke a lot of sense about the how of tango.
    It can only come with time - it's the connection
    and that elusive stage of having the music "within you".
    That's the best explanation I've seen of your attitude. It's understandable
    too but maybe not helpful for aspiring quality leaders. Confidence can be
    fragile and ephemeral and even the vaguest suggestion that partners
    might be bored just shatters it.
  16. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    oh i wouldnt call that confidence......

    my aim is often to have a really boring boring dance so the follower falls into a hypnotic trance..when I see Rapid Eye Movement I know at the end of the tanda she wont have rembered anything but will think that in itself made it such a wonderful experience;)
  17. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    "Enough" time is however much you can put towards it, or however much you want to. Accept your journey for what it is. So long as you are enjoying things, who cares? Who do you have to keep up with? What pace are you trying to set? None of it matters. Just sit back, do what you can when you can, and enjoy the process and frustration of learning.

    THIS!!! Find.another.teacher.now. I'd guess this would solve a bunch of your problems.
  18. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Your students are unlikely to perform such separations. In fact, I know they won't.

    So, if you encounter your local students at your local milonga, do you ignore them, or what?
  19. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I don't ignore them. I socialize with them. If one of them shows devotion and potential I would ask them to dance, but I'd do that even if they weren't my student.

    One of the reasons I feel this way is because I've seen too many students take a few lessons, expect to dance with "the teacher", then disappear forever after just a few months. I've decide not to spend any of my personal time with students who are not committed to the long term investment. Once I see that they are, I'm much more likely to dance with them. Again, that has nothing to do with me being their teacher.
  20. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    "Oh, yes, he's that weird guy up North" sums it up I reckon. :p

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