Tango Argentino > What steps should never be taught?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Dave Bailey, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Member

    In my experience, most beginners end up quitting anyway. If one were to emphasize connection and musicality over steps, I believe that there would be the same number of students who stick with it, but they would be ones who are more inclined towards good dancing.
  2. LittleLight

    LittleLight New Member

    Hmmm, I think that when teachers consistently present AT as a social dance and emphasize the joy to be had that way, lead by example, point out YouTube vids of good examples if they want to, in short, let their students know where the real fun is, then their students are less likely to be even asking for circus moves or to want to execute them in milongas.*

    It probably doesn't work if you just say "Okay, I'm going to teach you this move, but don't do it", out of the blue, having never mentioned anything before.

    *I do agree with Jan, though, there will always be people who just want that kind of stuff to show off how "advanced" they are, but teachers do have a role in making the situation better or worse.
  3. ant

    ant Member

    TM have you quoted the above from the book because my understanding is that ganchos were an integral part of some form of canyengue but I have never had it suggested to me that there was a link to milonga.
  4. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    As a teacher, I've tried this approach, and it hasn't worked very well. Most students come to class having already seen tango of some sort. Maybe it was on stage; maybe it was at a milonga. In either case, they have already been seduced by the fancy stuff. If you take a complete neophyte to a milonga they will wind up watching the crappy dancers who are doing the fanciest stuff, and they will completely miss the great dancers who are doing nothing to look at.

    As an experienced dancer I know how to have a good time doing simple steps. Beginners have no idea how to do this. I've tried presenting classes that focused on doing very basic steps creatively and elegantly. Most of my students practiced the step for about a minute before they decided that they had mastered the step and wanted to move on to something else.
  5. tangomonkey

    tangomonkey Active Member

    Yes, that's a direct quote. Milonga is older than tango (and likely was very different than today's dance). The earlier form of Milonga is what Thompson is referencing.
  6. salthepal

    salthepal New Member

    OK I'm chiming in late for this one, but it seems like there's a consensus: Whatever your style is, don't be a menace on the dance floor!

    I blogged about something similar a while back (DF won't let me link) about moves that should be retired from the dance floor. Now, while, I think any step or sequence can have a good pedagogical value, especially in teaching body mechanics (as so many people pointed out), the problem arises when such steps are overused, turning the dancer executing them imperfectly into a floor hazard (not mention looking like a tool!).

    In that blog, I reasoned that since tango is about dancing for your partner rather than for an audience, whether a move should be led or not should be gauged against that metric. "Oh this move was interesting, comfortable and went with the music!" vs. "Oh everyone look at me I can lead a triple gancho! Seven times in a row!". By that reasoning, I concluded that even showy, space-hogging steps can have a redeeming value beyond their showiness; the sensation that they give to your partner. So volcadas and colgadas (assuming they go with the music and there is room to do them) might be just fine; whereas I view steps like back sacadas as completely superfluous, because they have the same effect on the follower as a regular forward or side sacada, even though they can be done in relatively close embrace and not take up a lot of space. They're really just for show.

    At the end of the day, feeling the music and really dancing to it is the most important thing. The steps that we do should work towards that goal; they should be a tool towards having an ephemeral tango experience and sharing it with your dance partner, not a goal in and of themselves.
  7. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    The assumption here is that all followers want simple steps and don't care if they look good. Which isn't really true from what I've seen. And there are a few I've met who don't necessarily want to look like superstars, but have a lot of fun challenging themselves with complicated steps.

    But I agree with your final point, a step shouldn't exist in a vacuum, it should relate to the music.
  8. Zoopsia59

    Zoopsia59 Well-Known Member

    Many followers have learned the hard way that looking good is an important aspect in getting asked to dance. Being seen doing "fancy" steps usually is too (not to mention being able to follow the leaders who do those fancy steps)

    What followers REALLY want is to dance. If I wanted to sit all night, I'd stay home and watch Law and Order reruns, which are a lot more plentiful than milongas and practicas (and sometimes far more entertaining to watch)

    So if looking good gets me dances, then by golly, I'm going to look as good as I can! (Fancy steps and all)
  9. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Good so AB, neophytes and Kaspar Hausers would never come to your classes! We all are guided by models, phantasmata, and illusions. For me it has been the role model Pablo Veron, I saw the film and I knew that dancing tango wasn´t embarrassing at all. The personality hit me not the dancing scenes. And really, I did not and will never follow his style, though I dance a wide range from neo, milonguero, up to salón.
  10. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I can lead ganchos quite passably but I have seen so many badly executed that I stopped teaching them long ago. Its like the Larson cartoon Dave bailey linked up to. women were doing them when they werent lead. the leaders werent placing their leg in the right position and were getting kicked and at risk of knee injury, but mostly it just looked b***** awful.

    I think give a health and safety warning about keeping heels near the floor for ladies should be paramount, but I still see some teachers putting in high adornos in crowded milongas;one couple in Birmingham in particluar; any time they were next to me on the dance floor I made sure I was between them and my partner. I wouldnt allow them to dance at my milongas.
  11. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    everything in tango is an offer

    ha, most of the time it is the other way round. Men try to lead them, but the women refuse them and do an saludo or something else instead.

    But honestly, ganchos are really out of fashion right now, however here in Hamburg. What still can be seen are these twisted ones like this here at 0:17


  12. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    hmm I like those but having a partner who can actually dance those or understand the lead for it.

    I like leg wraps myself..but again its a case of having the right music and the right woman
  13. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    All novice dancers, everywhere, in every dance discipline, want to Do The Flashy Stuff.

    • Salsa dancers want to learn endless shines.
    • Jive dancers want to learn suicidal airsteps.
    • And Tango Dancers want to learn "the stuff with the legs".
    • etc.
    I imagine that after the very first dance in a cave somewhere in prehistoric times, some fool tried to do The Mammoth Leap and bashed their Neanderthal skull on the roof of the cave.

    I totally accept your comments about the feeling. But the vast majority of people (certainly in the UK) learning tango don't have the "right" approach to the dance. They want to do the flashy stuff. And, yes, they will find someone willing to charge them lots of money to teach them the flashy stuff.

    So what do you do if you're a teacher?

    You can teach them only the "right stuff". Walking, walking walking. Musicality. Embrace. Posture. Feeling. And then, most likely, you'll find you have 2 students left at the end of the year (Admittedly, they'll be bloody good students, but still, they won't pay your bills), as everyone else will have gone off to the Flashy Stuff Expert down the road.

    Or, you can teach them everything, including enough Flashy Stuff to keep them hooked. You teach them to dance to the music, and fit particular steps to particular tracks. You slooooowly educate them into general concepts. And you hope that they'll find a path which is roughly correct.

    Which, I think, means that you teach everything, but that you teach it right.
  14. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I agree with this. It annoys me when I see "teacher's tables" at milongas, that simply serves to separate The Gods Who Teach from lesser mortals.

    Teachers should work the room more - they almost never seem to grasp that concept. If nothing else, it's good business sense.
  15. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    You've persuaded me :)
  16. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    it is interesting the book i mean..Thompson's book (Tango the Art History of Love) explodes a lot of myths perpetuated by "tango traditionalists" who ought really be called tango minimalists...

    i agree. I gave a workshop yesterday then danced with most of the ladies who been participants..got some nice complimnets on the teaching and our dancing...
  17. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Well, they were probably just being polite. :p

    (Yes, I am including the same "they" as you are... ;) )
  18. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    The 8CB maybe.
  19. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Actually, I did show people that yesterday (admittedly, I felt a bit dirty after) - but mainly to show why it's a Very Bad Thing to do in social dancing, as large sidesteps are not recommended in milongas.

    In fact, the entire theme of the class morphed from "crosses" to "sidesteps are evil" somehow... :confused:
  20. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    In that case I shall have to charge more. "I didnt get where I am today by being polite."

    ( ancient reference*)

    * but I shall be amused if anyone spots it..:)

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