Tango Argentino > The rules of a practica

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Lois Donnay, Aug 3, 2015.

  1. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    There seems to be an emphasis on verbal feedback. I get feedback from listening to my partner's body.

    My listening skills have sharpened over the years. If a woman's frame is as stiff as steel, I can't lead anything so it would be a mistake to try a barrida. Her foot has to be directly in front of me or I'm going to have to reach for it. Some women push so hard with their right arm it feels like my shoulder will be dislocated. Others squeeze my left hand so tightly it feels like my knuckles will explode like popcorn.

    Leaving a practica, a woman complained that her shoulders and back hurt. I told her that taller men are holding her right arm above her shoulder so her muscles are getting tired from holding it up. On top of that, her right hand is squeezed like an orange.

    All the muscles in the body are connected. When one muscle is gripped with tension, the tension spreads throughout the body.
    Lois Donnay and jantango like this.
  2. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I don't disagree with the premise - but how does this help her? If you were at a practica, and you get on the practice floor, and try decide what to work on, and she says "so, i feel i need to work on barridas - lots of leaders lead them, and i have done them in class, but they always feel uncomfortable and forced, and it is not a fun move to me - could you lead barridas from all entries that you can thing of, and get out of them in all different ways so i can practice my sensitivity to that lead and my understanding of the geometry" - how does your nonverbal feedback of not leading barridas help her?
  3. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    In my opinion, not all practicas are the same. Some are little more than milongas, where you don't need to get dressed up. Others actually are about practicing with feedback, and some even involve some kind of instruction or drills (at least part of the time), and really can be a cheap alternative to classes.
  4. tangomaniac

    tangomaniac Active Member

    I previous wrote that I don't give unsolicited advice. If a woman asks for help in barridas, I'll help her.

    Before you can "fix" one problem, other problems may have to be "fixed" first. My experience is that barridas can't be done because the woman uses her right arm as a crutch for poor balance and pulls and pushes herself through ochos. Her pulling and pushing makes it difficult to maintain my balance.
    Lois Donnay likes this.
  5. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    But we are talking about the use of verbal feedback in practicas - the only reason you would do a barrida would be if she was working on them. Well, the alternative would be that you were working on them, but in that hypothetical situation you would not have the experience to understand it that deeply yourself.

    My process in debugging a move when practicing is something like that:
    1) talk about what i am trying to work on, and pick my partners brain about what they know about it, and how they think it works, and how i think it works
    2) try it a few times
    3) if it did not go well: discuss what happened, how it felt, repeat things in slow motion, discuss how i think my body should move and what the consequences for the geometry should be, ask if i really did what i thought i was doing, figure out how i deviated, and so on
    4) if it went well: do it again with different entries, from dancing, when i think my partner does not expect it, and so on to build sensitivity and expereince. try it with different parts in half or double time.

    so, there is a lot of talking involved. even when i work with people who say they need to feel things to work on them we need to agree on what we are trying to work on/what we are trying to feel.
    oldtangoguy and raindance like this.
  6. oldtangoguy

    oldtangoguy Active Member

    In days of yore, when men danced with men at practicas and learned at the practica, or at home with their sister or mother in a form of practica, I'll bet there was conversation. I'll bet there was unsolicited advice. I'll bet the codigos of the milonga were not followed, perhaps discussed, but not followed. I'll bet that it was not any kind of milonga in disguise. I'll bet it was a real learning environment. Do we do away with that because practicas today are coed and because anyone who has over five years dance under his, and generally it is a man, belt considers himself a teacher and doesn't like that his instruction is undercut by "his" students learning in a practica?

    My best learning has NOT been in class, but rather in a practica environment where I could screw up, be told so, or perhaps observe the totally puzzled look on my partner's face, ask what she felt, fix it, try it again, fix it, etc. Where I could really practice, try out things, and learn what actually works and what doesn't work.
    JohnEm likes this.
  7. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    This is true. FAR, FAR, TOO OFTEN, these discussions degrade into senseless quibble; nitpicking nonsense over definitions of words, and the very valid and interesting point of concept is lost. "Teaching", "feedback", "solicited", "unsolicited", is all irrelevant. Practicas are for practicing, not for dancing. There is a huge difference between teaching someone something, and showing someone something. Practicas are for sharing what we have learned, and trying to improve our dancing, not for teaching others to do things our ways, or what we believe to be correct because of whatever reason.

    I mentioned this earlier, and others have pointed out the same. Someone else mentioned that we do not like to "practice". Neither do we like to appear that we do not know what we are doing. No one is wrong on purpose, and we all believe that we are doing what the teachers said to do. So, when we get to the practicas, sadly it has become human nature to want to assume that we are correct and the other person must be cor-wrong; and, guys, being guys, typically go to 'fixing' the partner. Wrong move. Practicas are for sharing and trying to improve our dancing... not everyone else's.

    One of the rare times that I disagree with dc. This is indeed the problem... the habit of 'doing whatever I want, and defining it as different'. We cannot say that there is one kind of practica for practicing, and another kind for teaching, and another kind for just dancing, and another kind for....., and another kind for...., and I did what I did b/c this wasn't that kind of practica; it was.....

    Both of these are correct, though I must say that the first one is only true if and when the man knows his own part well. I have seen far too many instances of guys (and ladies, for that matter), rushing to learn the others' parts without even being comfortably knowledgeable with their own.

    Re the second, this takes us right back to the original post (which is perfect). Practicas need to be places where the dance is perfected, and the conventions of the milonga are learned so that when we venture to the milongas, we are ready. In order to do this, there must be some sort of protocols in place
    Lois Donnay likes this.
  8. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    While I understand your point, IMO, your argument might be more with the various organizers around the globe who have very different ideas for what their practica should be.

    Basically, I'm just stating what I've observed about different practicas that I've visited.
    Angel HI likes this.
  9. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Ah, yes. Understood. Hey, I also really like the Sig line by Russell. :)
    dchester likes this.
  10. TomTango

    TomTango Active Member

    I tend to agree. I think it's because the organization of the event dictates what it is more than the label given to it. You can call it a practica, but if you dim the lights and encourage people to bring wine and snacks, you've functionally made a milonga.
    dchester likes this.
  11. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    No, they learned beforehand, with an aunt, a female neighbour. It took half an hour. Then they went to the milongas and they danced, the learning-the-dance-from-13-to-20 boys taking care of everything. Learning curves nowadays tend to sync a bit more, since many people learn as a couple.
  12. twnkltoz

    twnkltoz Well-Known Member

    But here's the problem...

    A. We aren't learning in our living rooms with aunts and uncles. We're learning with acquaintances. Maybe your partner if you're lucky. This is a very different environment.

    B. It's one thing for people who have agreed to practice together and help each other. It's another when someone you don't know demands you help them for free.

    C. It's one thing when someone you respect offers a little feedback, tactfully given. It's another when someone you hardly know, and you don't even know if they're qualified to tell you anything, rips apart your dancing on the floor when you didn't ask.
    Zoopsia59, Angel HI, Mladenac and 4 others like this.
  13. ArbeeNYC

    ArbeeNYC Member

    Some people approach a practica as a kind of a milonga "light"--less formal, more talking, etc. Some people practice specific things, some people just practice dancing. It also gives beginners an opportunity to gain experience without going to a milonga and messing up the line of dance.
  14. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Great. Then go to a light milonga.
    Great. That is still practicing. It is quite easy to tell the difference between these persons and those of the first group.
  15. ArbeeNYC

    ArbeeNYC Member

    Some of the practicas I've been to locally have distinct tandas with cortinas, and some do not, just a succession of songs. Practicas are always organized by a teacher (or teachers). Some of those teachers are fairly active, giving advice when asked, pointing out errors when they see them, dancing with their students. Some just act as DJs. It varies from place to place. And some practicas are like informal milongas. Generally, the codices more or less apply, at least for those who are aware of them. Lots of people aren't.
  16. LivingstonSeagull

    LivingstonSeagull New Member

    Hello, all! I am new to this forum - that is I've been reading for months but this is the first time I registered to post. The thread about practicas was the reason for me to do so. I wanted to share what we have here in Southern California. My experience was similar to what I have read here - most practicas are treated by people as light milongas, a place to dance. Often I've seen intermediate leaders or leaders that think themselves as advanced to come to practicas to teach - to offer unsolicited advice to many beginner followers that only come to practicas, not to milongas because of lack of confidence.
    So several of us that wanted to work on our dance not by the virtue of getting more miles on the dance floor with various partners, but by specifically working on the technique and foundation of the dance movement - we got together and started our own practica. Our format is - a fairly small work group - 8 - 12 people so far. We try to be leader/follower balanced but it doesn't always work, which turned out to be not a big deal as we don't mind working solo on the technique as well as sharing partners. Not unusual for one leader to work with two followers and vice versa. We don't have cortinas, nor specific dance playlists - just non-stop tango music, and it can be modified per request if someone needs a specific type to work on and the majority is OK with it.
    This is the space to work on the dance, to stop when needed, discuss with each other, give feed back in a friendly, collaborative manner.
    Seeking advice and sharing is encouraged - indeed this is the whole point, however in mutually respectful way, which means - I offer what I think, we discuss the merits and we both see if it makes sense in the context of our dance together. People with "I know what's best" attitude are not welcomed.
    It turned out this kind of format brought us together, fostered the comradery as well as helped us improve dramatically - indeed some of us had feedback from the respective teachers "whatever you are doing - keep doing it, it's working!".
    All of us still go to regular practicas hosted by teachers around town, but more and more we realized that our practica format gives us more of what we seek, than the typical social dancing practicas.
    The point of the lengthy post here - if social dancing practicas are not what you want, if you want collaboration and working on the dance more than just dancing with variety of partners with less rules - start your own practice group! You'll be amazed how well it works!
    Mladenac, Zoopsia59 and raindance like this.
  17. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Feel free to post once in a while for a year or two, about how it goes with your practice group.
  18. ArbeeNYC

    ArbeeNYC Member

    Sounds like a very good idea because it allows you to focus on what you need rather than what someone else thinks you need. The only disadvantage, as I see it, is the absence of a teacher or advanced dancer (maybe a couple?) to help correct any mistakes. But if you're using it as an opportunity to, literally, practice what you've been taught, I think that's a great idea. I wouldn't mind something like that myself. By the way, this works at any level of experience or skill.
  19. LivingstonSeagull

    LivingstonSeagull New Member

    You are right - it works for any level of skill! and I'd like to think of it being reminiscent of what practicas used to be in Argentina - a place where people learn from each other, not from a teacher. All of us seem to take something from this experience - a new idea, a different understanding - which some, myself included, run past our teachers to see if what we have rationalized makes sense.
  20. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the DF, Seagul

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