Tango Argentino > Teachers who have been to Buenos Aires

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Lois Donnay, Sep 15, 2015.

  1. Lois Donnay

    Lois Donnay Member

    How important is it that your teacher has been to Buenos Aires? Go to Buenos Aires regularly? Are from Buenos Aires?
  2. Lois Donnay

    Lois Donnay Member

    I ask because we had a visiting teacher come through some time ago, and I was surprised to learn that he has never been. He actually does not want to go. He is afraid that it will ruin his dance. I think it is important, and can certainly help to distinguish a teacher who knows tango well, music AND dance, and one who adds tango to their resume because they have heard it is popular. (I once asked a ballroom teacher if he taught Argentine tango. He said "Sure, I can teach that!)
  3. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Going to Buenos Aires is quite expensive and it's a big business.
    I see that as religious tourism.

    I am not sure about ruining someone's tango by going to BsAs.
    If he is insecure that it might, or spoil a dream. If he goes he won't be dreaming about it.

    One ballroom dancer came to milonga and said she could easily learn tango.
    And I commented about musicality and then Belgica by Biagi came along.
    Her grin disappeared immediately. :)

    Some ballroom dancers are to confident and never tried AT.
    Those who tried it are very humble and respect AT very much.
  4. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    My current teacher is just back from a one-year stay in BsAs. I would not consider taking classes with someone who has spent less time over there than myself.
    Lois Donnay likes this.
  5. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Not having been to BsAs is not a deal breaker for me. My main criteria for teacher selection are: watching how they dance, and opinions (from people I trust) of how they teach.

    However, the statement that going to BsAs would ruin his dance, probably would keep me from attending his class.
    Mladenac and Lilly_of_the_valley like this.
  6. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    For my teachers, it is indispensable to have a first hand tango experience. That means: being to Buenos Aires, and being able to dance in the authentic traditional milongas (not touristic ones) as peers among the peers. I will not consider taking a lesson from anyone who have not done that.
    However, not everyone is as lucky as I am, and got the same opportunities as I do. So, the next choice would be to learn tango from someone who have learned directly and extensively from the people matching the first criteria I mentioned.
    The teacher from the original post does not qualify. :)
  7. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I shall say, that comment about "ruining one's dancing" seems very silly to me coming from a presumed professional dancer and instructor . That is the kind of thing I would expect to hear from a beginner. :)
    Zoopsia59 and dchester like this.
  8. koinzell

    koinzell Active Member

    I was fortunate enough to learn from a teacher who has been to BA over 20 times. He learned most of his tango in BA and at the Miami Festival which brought the best talent from BA for 9 days. Like Lilly said, this kind of experience is indispensable.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  9. Lois Donnay

    Lois Donnay Member

    I have a student who is too far away to take lessons here in a bigger city, with experienced teachers, regularly. So he goes to his local ballroom studio for their "argentine tango" lessons every week. There he has learned so many figures, very complicated, but he can't walk, embrace, or actually lead any of these fancy moves unless his partner (from that class) helps. On a marginally crowded dancefloor, it's a disaster. He is coming to Buenos Aires with me this fall, and I don't know what to tell him. In fact, he's coming for a lesson tomorrow - and I know it will be a difficult time.
    Mladenac likes this.
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    If he's taking lessons from you as preparation for a trip to BA, and you know which milongas you will be taking him to, it seems like you could easily explain why you are going to teach him what you are going to teach him.

    Concentrating on the trip and the BA milongas would avoid discussion of styles.
    And... This Fall is already here! and he / you don't have much time!
    (and you can take that from someone who took lessons for 6 months before going to a practica!)
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  11. Lois Donnay

    Lois Donnay Member

    Souns simple, but how do I explain that you can't armlead most women into multiple front ochos in BA. He paid good money to learn that...
  12. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    The best thing you could tell him is the truth. Then work with him on his embrace and walk.
  13. LadyLeader

    LadyLeader Active Member

    Could you find a video showing how they dance at that place he is going to visit in Buenos Aires?

    It would be easier for him to understand that some smaller moves he already can dance would fit better.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  14. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    I did a bit of poking around, and I'm going to guess that this individual will be dropping several thousand USD, and several weeks of his time on this trip. That indicates a fair amount of interest in the subject of Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires.

    I think most of here know that AT can take on any number of flavors, and that's been the case from the fist time "Argentine Tango" came out the region of its origin.
    He's been taught a particular style of AT that is not the one he will find in Buenos Aires. He most likely won't be doing much dancing.

    I spent six months taking lessons here in Portland before I had my first lesson in apilado style AT. I quickly realized that it was so different that I pretty much had to go back to square one to get the basics of this variant of AT.

    And, partly in answer to your original question, I'm pretty sure all but one of the people I took lessons from here had spent time in Buenos Aires. I'm sure you'll recognize Alex Krebs, and Robert Hauk, but maybe not Steven Payne, Bill Alsup, and Megan Pingree; plus all the other teachers who I caught as they passed through Portland.

    I don't think you HAVE to study there, but you have to be familiar with, and pass on your knowledge of the various facets of AT in Buenos Aires to teach it. And of course the farther you get from the source...

    One thought would be to give him the urls of dancing at the milongas you will attend to watch as "homework."

    Bottom line is, if he wants to dance in Buenos Aires, he will greatly increase his chances by learning to dance "like a Porteño."
  15. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    If not direct experience, it's definitely helpful if they have taken a lot of instruction from someone who has been there.
  16. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    My teacher used to say "wait for the woman." One day at a group class, a woman lead me and didn't wait for me to pivot during ochos. That's the day I learned what "wait for the woman" meant.
  17. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    I think it's very important. When I started, my eyes were as big as pineapples, watching intricate figures I could only dream of executing. My teacher told me those figures weren't important. He said the Argentines dance very simply without intricate figures.

    I went alone to BA and didn't believe him until I saw for myself that it was true.

    The Argentines would probably laugh at North Americans who don't dance close embrace so they can do intricate figures. (But intricate figures can be done in close embrace.) The Argentines emphasize connection, not figures.

    I came home a changed dancer.

    There's too much silent competition on the dance floor. Who can do the most difficult figure? I watch men at practicas push women through the figure (which doesn't work) and then tell them they are in the wrong position. And the women take the abuse!! But that's a different story.
  18. Mladenac

    Mladenac Well-Known Member

    Unfortunately I have seen many ruined dancers by that behaviour.
    Cheerful and talented became walking deaths.
  19. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    I've taken classes and private lessons from Argentines, those who have visited Argentina, and those who never have. I don't find any correlation between exposure to Argentina and quality of teaching. I've experienced just as many bad lessons from Argentine-associated teachers as the non-associated.

    I agree with dchester that the important things are if you like how they dance and if they teach in a way that helps you learn. Another thing to add is see if they're an active part of the tango community. Do they either teach at festivals or go to festivals to dance? Are they or were they part of a large tango scene? That's the primary way to separate out the common cross-over teachers the OP mentioned. "I once asked a ballroom teacher if he taught Argentine tango. He said "Sure, I can teach that!"
    Mladenac and Cal like this.
  20. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    Of course, just because someone is from Argentina or even Buenos Aires, it does not mean he or she is a good tango dancer or a milongero/a.
    A festival is not a place where the tango mainly happens. Milonga is.
    Lois Donnay likes this.

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