Tango Argentino > What to do in a class where you're in over your head

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Sunny Daye, Aug 12, 2007.

  1. timbp

    timbp New Member

    Predatorial in what direction?

    I've wanted to learn AT for a while. Tried it once and stopped mostly for lack of someone to practise with. Recently started again after several months urging from a friend who wanted me as a practice partner. She has since warned me about several women who will "make offers" for me to be their practice partner. I don't know if there is any truth in this (nobody has yet made me an offer). But given the numbers of men and women I see, I can believe the women might be predatorial.
     
  2. Twirly

    Twirly New Member

    I think this is a good attitude. You never know when someone is just having a bad day, so why waste energy trying to "remember their face" so you can turn them down years later?
     
  3. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member


    A preference in a particular looking woman has nowt to do with a man's conduct. It's about a man's preference. Basta!!

    What exactly is a lousy dancer? Or, rather, from where you're standing ...a "lousy follower"

    And I will always, always give a not so good lead the time of day. I will make eye conduct with same (who to my mind has spent far too much time on his bum and not enough time on his feet), I'll leave whoever it is that I am with, maintain that eye contact, walk over to him, smile and offer my hand. When we have completed "all" 3 tracks, if need be I will gently give tips, hold his hand, ask his name and then say thank you.
     
  4. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Women tend to be a little bit more grabby in a class only because there tends to be more women than men. Come the milonga, I find that role is soon adapted by the man.

    As for finding a partner to practice with, when I set out as a beginning follower I attended classes by myself, left by myself and practised at home by myself either up against a bookshelf or with a broom. When I progressed to the leading role, I practised with the ladies in class and when I got home I shadow-ghost led with my hands in position - which of course to the eyes from afar resembles something akin to tai-chi. Don't get stuck with a partner if you can help it as progress is in the variety of dancers with whom you practise/dance. A partner on yoru arm is handy at a milonga only to fill in the gaps between the dances with others.
     
  5. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    A lousy dancer might have some or all of the following qualities:

    Clockwork mouse: assumes a lead is an invitation to do a whole sequence of moves she is familair with;
    Crosses when no cross was led.
    Steps into a forward ocho when a back ocho/change of direction is led
    Bounces between steps ( to a contra-beat)
    Does an unled weight change to get back into parrallell system when you have moved into cross system (fault of those with ballroom training)

    Most of the above the follwer can be taught to improve; the following cannot:
    Ignores the beat of the music
    Dances like a stick- stiff and unflowing (Stick woman will also complain about dancing toneo/alt tango music)
    Dances like a horse- in spite of good following ability she has untidy feet that never come together.

    This does not apply to beginners with less than three month experience.
     
  6. jennyisdancing

    jennyisdancing Active Member

    Thanks Bordertangoman,

    I have four months experience (with lessons) and only been out dancing twice so I appreciate the observations. I am always trying to get better. I did notice, by the way, that many people in my class had trouble either leading or following back ochos, so that seems to be a challenge in general.

    As to the things you say cannot be taught, I disagree.

    Ignores the beat of the music - if you mean deliberately ignoring it, you're right. If you just mean that the dancer does not have good rhythm or musicality, those things can indeed be taught, practiced and improved. Even just putting music on at home and tapping your feet can help with that.

    Dances like a stick- stiff and unflowing - people certainly can be taught to dance in a more flowing, graceful manner. Aside from a good tango teacher, ballet, jazz and regular stretching would help. If it's because the dancer is feeling tense, then obviously relaxation exercises, plus just getting better and more confident at your dancing.

    Dances like a horse- in spite of good following ability she has untidy feet that never come together. - That's simply a technique issue. A good teacher and a lot of practice should help there, shouldn't it?
     
  7. Cortado

    Cortado New Member

    Good grief !

    My inexperience in the dance and my sometimes faulty logic lead me to say:
    If it takes a leader several years to become good and smooth, then it should take a follower at least a year, if not more, to hone her skills.

    Is tango as unforgiving as it appears? Some of my female friends who have danced tango for a couple of years tell me that they can sit all night at a milonga and not have a single dance. :eek:
     
  8. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    IME, it depends a lot on the venues. Best thing I found was to attend a local series of workshops/classes/practicas/milongas where you'll be seeing a bunch of the local faces. It seems to shake things up a bit, you'll meet lots of people and establish a connection with them, and that makes things worlds easier at milongas.

    Don't let yourself get intimidated. Especially since you're a guy--you have the advantage of being the one to ask. (Yes, I know girls can ask too, but it's relatively unusual.) Being polite, making an honest attempt, and smelling good go a long way. Some of us really like dancing with beginners.
     
  9. Heather2007

    Heather2007 New Member

    Here's a gem: next time you dance with one who is "lousy" rather than view this is as a major setback, view it as a rite of passage.
     
  10. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    hmm my experience is that it is an uphill struggle to teach people this. IMy belief is that people can be open to suggestions musically but its really leading horses to water. Either they have it or they don't.

    I think this is more ingrained personality rather than tension. Tension I can deal with. I'm not saying there isn't a possibility of change but it would take a dedicated one to one to acheive this.


    well you would think so but there has been no improvement in this aspect of the horse's feet.
     
  11. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    Life is too short.
     
  12. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    "Is tango as unforgiving as it appears? Some of my female friends who have danced tango for a couple of years tell me that they can sit all night at a milonga and not have a single dance."

    Unlike country western two step, Zydeco, or West Coast Swing, Argentine Tango (with the exception of milonga) seems to be a "serious" dance that attracts people who really want to learn to do it well. And it takes a great deal of effort to learn to do it well.
    When you learn how to do something really well, the deficiencies of those who are not doing it really well become all the more glaring.
    I have no problem dancing with beginners who are still trying to learn.
    The casual attitude of Americans with regard to going to milongas before they are ready doesn't help things either. In AT you are more or less expected to dance an entire tanda with someone. And, yes, I have actually ended up in physical pain after toughing it out with someone who really sucked.
    I stop asking people who reach a mediocre level and never get any better, and don't even seem to be trying. (On the other hand, just last week I danced with someone who had gotten much better all of a sudden because she had been dancing waltz! She was much more engaged with me through the arms ie the "frame" and could actually feel the lead.)
    I don't know that my attitude is any different in AT than it is in two step, but in two step, etc, no one gets upset if you only dance one with them. (Some of us wait a song or two into the tanda before asking an unknown. But if you are a know, and you are good, you are more likely to be asked at the beginning of the tanda. Should have asked her faster.)
     
  13. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Your post is interesting on many levels:

    Firstly, let's clear up that I do not believe you intended to insinuate that those other dances do not attract persons who wish to do them well. Moving on, IMO, it is only in the U.S. that people are so serious about this dance. The Argentines take it seriously, yes, but it is a recreation...a passtime for them; not rocket science. And as far as taking a great deal of time to do it well; so does everything that one wishes to do well. AT requires no more/less than BR fox.

    Why is it that in dance, in this country, and in AT in particular, many persons seemingly look forward to this?

    This has nothing to do with AT. It is cultural to BsAs, or Argentina. Many Americans speak to this, but, we, in the U.S., do not have to do it. It is not cultural to us. I do not mind it, yet, I believe copying it because it is "...what they do in BsAs..." but has nothing to do with the dance, is ridiculous.

    Careful! I hate cliches, but there is one that speaks to how many it takes to tango. It might have sucked as equally for the other party. Who would be to bear that fault?

     
  14. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I would agree with this entirely

    likewise; I still remeber I was a beignnier once and I will encourage those with less experience; @beginners Mind is also a useful mental attitude

    Now this is a real stumbling block for me with the people I teach. I think part of it is attitude and a local temperament which is too laid back and a casual acceptance of mediocrity in all aspects of life. Like these people can't be bothered with anything that is actually difficult.
    The people who mostly do well often aren't local but have moved into the area at some stage in their lives.


    Of course there is my attitude as well. I am fairly easy going in my classes but there are days where if someone fails to understand what I am endeavouring to each I start to seethe.

    When I started I wasn't aware that tango was difficult or would take a long time. I just seemed to be making reasonable and consistent progress and had no real goals as such (except to be able to ganchos!)

    Sometimes I think that if I could teach people a bit of attitude ( even if its faked or acted) then most people's dancing would improve. Tango (leading especially) is not for the faint hearted or the indecisive!!!!
     
  15. newbie

    newbie Well-Known Member

    Hmmm yes it has. Each leader has his own way to lead and the follower needs time to adjust. Also, unlike, say, salsa, the danceable part of a tango piece is short, maybe 2 minutes. (You don't begin to dance immediately when the music starts, unlike other dances). So the first dance is only to adjust.
    Plus, the DJ will usually organize his tanda in such a way that the best pieces are the 2nd and 3rd pieces of the tanda.
     
  16. Cortado

    Cortado New Member

    Very true. I have noticed that many couples do not move until well into the song/track (some much later than others!) and if you are directly behind them you are left with little choice. Balanceos are fine on the spot but I like to start with a clear definite first step rather than a tiny one. Is that what you are supposed to do? I could do a big step left but if they do the same, well ... emm.

    Regarding the tanda, many DJs will play the same composer/type of music in one tanda. When you say the best pieces are kept till 2nd or 3rd do you mean the more complex pieces or the more popular pieces? (generally speaking of course).
     
  17. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Angel HI wrote:
    "Firstly, let's clear up that I do not believe you intended to insinuate that those other dances do not attract persons who wish to do them well. Moving on, IMO, it is only in the U.S. that people are so serious about this dance." in response to my comment..
    "Argentine Tango (with the exception of milonga) seems to be a "serious" dance that attracts people who really want to learn to do it well. And it takes a great deal of effort to learn to do it well."

    Although I haven't been, I've seen lots of pictures of people dancing in BA, and you don't see big happy grins on their faces any more than you see in the US. It's the music and it's the intensity of the dance/ connection. At has a reputation as a "serious" dance because of this.
    And, for the beginner, AT is very difficult, or, "it has a steep learning curve". If you learn "by the numbers", for instance with the 8 count basic, that is not the case. But, most people I know don't teach that way. And most people I know haven't learned that way. I could list again some of the things about AT that make it different, and thus more difficult, but, maybe some other time. Comparing the challenge for a beginner to that of "learning to do it well" is apples and oranges.

    Regarding the tanda, Angle HI wrote, "This has nothing to do with AT. It is cultural to BsAs, or Argentina. Many Americans speak to this, but, we, in the U.S., do not have to do it."
    You may not use a tanda system, and that happens. "We" dn;t have to do it, but we do. Playing music in tandas, and dancing with a partner for an entire tanda is very common here in the US. It makes sense because there is no basic step to start with. Each new set of partners has to "tune in" to each other, and that takes a while. It also makes sense from the standpoint that AT offers 3 kinds of dances: tango, vals, and milonga, dances that have a substantially different feel to them. So playing them in "sets" works.

    Angel: "Why is it that in dance, in this country, and in AT in particular, many persons seemingly look forward to this?"
    I didn't look forward to it. In fact, it is awful darn thing to discover that a lot of the really good stuff you've learned in classes is useless because it takes two people to do them and many of your partners aren't up to it.

    Angel: "Careful! I hate cliches, but there is one that speaks to how many it takes to tango. It might have sucked as equally for the other party. Who would be to bear that fault?"
    You go right ahead and ask the women who literally hung a subsatantial portion of their weight on me for an entire tanda how the dance was for them. Be sure to ask them who they've been taking lessons from and how long they've been dancing, too, and why they decided to go to a milonga rather than a practica, where at least a guy could bring up the issue of how they are dancing without being too out of bounds.
     
  18. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    This is what you've learned in your lessons come in handy. If you find yourself in a traffic-jam, then lead the figures like calesitas, ocho cortadas, molinetes, etc.

    Figures that can be done in place, and very small, and causes you to spin around so even if your hardly moving forward, you still have a flow of movement and be aware of everything/everyone around you. Once the floor starts moving then you resolve the momentarily stationary figure, transition and walk.
     
  19. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Other than needing 2 or 3 dances to get it right, I am not sure that I understand your reply to the (my) referenced post. :confused: Incidentally, the waiting at the beginning of the song is also "cultural" to Argentina, and thus not a "requisite", but more an option, in the U.S. Non?
     
  20. Angel HI

    Angel HI Well-Known Member

    Re Steve's Post #57

    I agree with you on many things, really. The gists of my former comments were; (1) AT is really no more difficult than either other dance that is to be done well. Certainly, it has its intricacies, and definitely noted...some dances are more difficult than others, and I was/am speaking relatively. (2) When you see AT in film, and dancers are not smiling, it isn't because they are struggling through the dance to get it right; it is simply the nature of the dance. Non? (3) Lastly, your point is well taken re some persons being better off at a practica than a milonga, but again, my point was/is do dancers really do this in other dances? I have been to many BR dances where I thought the same thing, and I am certain that in earlier years, someone probably said the same thing about moi, but, we all like to just jump into the deep end sometimes.

    Did I mention that I hate cliches? : )
     

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