Adventures with an IDTA syllabus... :)

Peaches

Well-Known Member
Well, have you noticed how lots of us around here on D-F don't particularly get along...and this is just a forum. ;)

It seems reasonable that a tango teacher should be familiar with all of these (and more, probably). They should be able to dance them decently, be able to deconstruct and demonstrate each action from the leader and follower's perspective, and show that they can teach those actions.
I.don't.disagree. At all. I never have. (I could pick on the idea of those particular things being considered basic things, or even fundamentals...but i don't have that kind of energy.) Nor do I disagree with:
an examination syllabus will have to try and distill some fundamentals of common application, and test knowledge about them in a non-partisan way
I don't think it's really of any value to the larger AT or dance world, and I don't actually think it can be done, but given that they are hell-bent on doing it, then...fine.

None of this is my concern. It's not what I brought up, and not what I'm arguing.

What I am arguing is: I don't believe the examiners are qualified to be examining AT. Period. I'd love to be proven wrong, and if I am I will be the first to admit it and apologize. But I do not fundamentally believe that those in the position of examining others are competent and qualified to do so.
 

AndaBien

Well-Known Member
...That said, the inherent problem here, as with many similar things, is that the standard is itself, well, not particularly good.
My constant refrain is, even if the standard is good, standardizing a non-standard dance still produces a standardized end result. It doesn't produce AT or AT teachers.
 

Subliminal

Well-Known Member
It is very difficult to say just how competence should be tested. It's all very well saying 'just improvise' for a song, but one candidate may choose to walk for three minutes to D'Arienzo, while the next one 'performs' a carefully choreographed dance in the fantasia style to some contemporary or alternative music. Both are validly tango, but how can they be fairly compared? Would either candidate be competent to teach a beginner's class (or an advanced one)? How would you know?

A quick glance through the syllabus figures, and I see these actions: the cross; front & back eights; parallel & cross system walks; rock turns; block, sandwich and passover; displacements; sacadas; giros; sweeps. It seems reasonable that a tango teacher should be familiar with all of these (and more, probably). They should be able to dance them decently, be able to deconstruct and demonstrate each action from the leader and follower's perspective, and show that they can teach those actions.

Surely it is inevitable that in a style as varied as tango, an examination syllabus will have to try and distill some fundamentals of common application, and test knowledge about them in a non-partisan way. Inevitably, the result will be a little insipid and colourless - you can't equally please the traditionalist zealot and the anything-is-possible dancer, but there is some common ground between them, even if they couldn't actually bear to be in the same room as each other.

Its a tough challenge. Just what should you test, and how will you test it?
It's interesting. Somehow the subject of gauging the tango experience of an instructor came up with my first teacher once. (She has about 25 years experience dancing and teaching AT.) She said something like, "I don't bother looking at figures. Anyone after a couple years can pull off most figures if that's what they focus on. I look at the walk. With the walk alone, I can tell who has been dancing 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, or more."

I'm not sure that testing for the various "-ada" moves is a valid measure of skill...
 

bordertangoman

Well-Known Member
My constant refrain is, even if the standard is good, standardizing a non-standard dance still produces a standardized end result. It doesn't produce AT or AT teachers.
do I have a constant refrain? Basically that I would resist anyone telling me what I should do or how to do it, and posibly for the reasons that you identify....

that "standardization" is already creating groups of tolerably good but rather dull dancers
( not saying its anyone here of course.)
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
My constant refrain is, even if the standard is good, standardizing a non-standard dance still produces a standardized end result. It doesn't produce AT or AT teachers.
Actually, I think that the dance is already standardised rather more than many would wish to admit.

But more importantly, I would say that working towards holding a teaching diploma (assuming that the candidate is not already an established and experienced teacher), is just a starting point for their subsequent development, not just as a dancer (they may already be very good), but as a teacher. It doesn't represent official recognition of the attainment of a high standard of excellence, but rather represents something like an objective measure of a minimum standard of knowledge and competence fitting a newly-qualified teacher, but hopefully one committed to personal and professional development over many years to come.

Lots of people who study academic subjects up to around first degree level have the date of their final exams as the target for their 'peak' of learning. Many cram and forget. Vocational qualifications aren't like that: they are a starting point. I could already write a better Technique for a Tango Teaching Diploma (actually, so could most people LOL). You have to have an understanding of the context of such a text, and its objectives and limitations, though, but I've been studying dance techniques for quite a while, and you acquire the knack (just as an able student soon learns how to construct an essay that will gain high marks).

I wouldn't recommend anyone goes out and buys this text: I am its fiercest critic, but a wider question would be whether there is a better way to produce AT teachers. Most of the ones of my acquaintance, including some big names on the international circuit couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag.
 
Getting back to this
Knowledge of theory? Which one? There are multiple, equally valid theories for lots of aspects of AT.
Oh rubbish. :p That way lies total anarchy.

Whilst there are of course areas of difference, and different interpretations, there are some obvious, objective, measurable criteria for AT, which are generally accepted and understood throughout the world. If there weren't such criteria, people from different areas would never be able to dance with each other.

I understand that if you're applying for certification from a teaching society that you can dance quite well. What I question is if the teaching society would know if AT was danced "quite well" or not.
Yes, and in this case the answer is "clearly not". But also, it's not that important. Because again I can't help thinking that you're focussing on the dancing too much, when the actual examination is (rightly) about the teaching.

Dancing in the context of teaching is simply displaying the ability to competently demonstrate the relevant areas to be taught. It's not about creating a work of art or anything.

If the examination shows that the teacher can adequately demonstrate the topics, to the degree required to support the teaching, then that's enough.
 
What I am arguing is: I don't believe the examiners are qualified to be examining AT. Period.
Actually, I'm fairly sure UKDancer agrees with you on that one. Although he might not want to say that in public ;)

But I do not fundamentally believe that those in the position of examining others are competent and qualified to do so.
Yep, and that's a fundamental flaw in the whole process.

But that doesn't invalidate the concept of the process itself.

Plus, over time, it's possible that the examiners will themselves gain such expertise, and that the syllabus will evolve into something a bit more reasonable. Although it may be "over a long time"... quite a few years, I'd guess...
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure that testing for the various "-ada" moves is a valid measure of skill...
Agreed. Not in isolation, anyway. But shouldn't a tango teacher be able to teach these things, even if they are not the most important thing?

I know an experienced BR examiner well, and she says that she doesn't need to see the candidate actually dance at all. She just watches them walk into the room, and the way that they do that tells her all she needs to know. Out of polite interest she will watch them dance for a moment or two, but very rarely does she see anything to alter her initial assessment; but it is helpful to spot something about which she can make a constructive criticism on the report form.

Walking is fundamental. You wouldn't want to read what this text has to say on the subject. It would make you want to weep.
 
My constant refrain is, even if the standard is good, standardizing a non-standard dance still produces a standardized end result. It doesn't produce AT or AT teachers.
Firstly, I'm not sure AT is a "non-standard" dance - in fact, I've no idea what a "non-standard" dance is... :confused:

Secondly, I'm totally 100% behind the idea that too much codification creates an ossified dance scene. You absolutely need to have a lot of flexibility, wiggle room, and fundamentally the willingness to tear up the rule book (and re-write it) as and when innovation occurs.

But, thirdly, that doesn't mean that all exercises in definition, description and, yes, standardisation, are futile. It simply means that these exercises need to be done well, with inbuilt flexibility, and with a recognition of differences.
 
I could already write a better Technique for a Tango Teaching Diploma (actually, so could most people LOL).
Funny you mention that... ;)

Most of the ones of my acquaintance, including some big names on the international circuit couldn't teach their way out of a paper bag.
I agree that actual teaching ability is usually ignored in favour of dancing ability. And a ponytail.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
Actually, I'm fairly sure UKDancer agrees with you on that one. Although he might not want to say that in public ;)
I have mixed feelings about it. I understand the assessment methodology, though, and do not believe that it is fundamentally flawed - but far from perfect. Mind you, I discovered in conversation with the examiner I mentioned earlier that she didn't know that tango was a progressive dance, moving around the line of dance. She thought that executing figures on the spot (like a Latin or slot dance) was OK. Hmm.

... it's possible that the examiners will themselves gain such expertise, and that the syllabus will evolve into something a bit more reasonable. Although it may be "over a long time"... quite a few years, I'd guess...
It's actually quite likely. But it will take at least five years - but that's nothing really, in the scheme of things ...
 
IMind you, I discovered in conversation with the examiner I mentioned earlier that she didn't know that tango was a progressive dance, moving around the line of dance. She thought that executing figures on the spot (like a Latin or slot dance) was OK. Hmm.
Oh good bleedin' grief... :rolleyes:

What, the fact that BR tango is progressive did not give her a clue? :confused:
 

AndaBien

Well-Known Member
...Whilst there are of course areas of difference, and different interpretations, there are some obvious, objective, measurable criteria for AT, which are generally accepted and understood throughout the world. If there weren't such criteria, people from different areas would never be able to dance with each other...
Yes, any experienced AT dancer would be able to recognize standard AT of several varieties, although we do argue about the fringes. However, are there "objective and measurable criteria"? I'm not so sure.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
Oh good bleedin' grief... :rolleyes:

What, the fact that BR tango is progressive did not give her a clue? :confused:
Nope! And the odd thing there, is that you can just walk quite a lot in BR tango too. But it is a very 'dance school' or 'dance studio' view of AT. You've probably never been to a mixed social dance, where one or two tango songs are played in the course of the evening, for those that 'dance tango'. They get up, and then they never move off their spot - never! Nearly everyone is sitting out, of course, and they always applaud at the end, out of appreciation for the exotic display of wholly unled ganchos.

I have occasionally got up, but having been unable to navigate around the floor, have given up, and just danced giros, in place, to the end of the song. It's another world ...
 

AndaBien

Well-Known Member
Agreed. Not in isolation, anyway. But shouldn't a tango teacher be able to teach these things, even if they are not the most important thing?...
I don't think it's necessary. I teach what I consider to be a very basic dance, with almost no sacadas. That's how I dance and it's what I teach. I focus much attention on doing the basics with personal nuance and creativity.

There are all sorts of standard VU steps out there (I think) that I would not be able to name or teach. And Nuevo? Forget it. But then, I don't claim to teach VU or Nuevo.
 
Yes, any experienced AT dancer would be able to recognize standard AT of several varieties, although we do argue about the fringes.
Yes - I like that way of putting it, "arguing about the fringes", that's a good description I think.

However, are there "objective and measurable criteria"? I'm not so sure.
I think it's relatively easy to assess if something is being done wrong - which is basically all I think we should aim for.

Judging whether something is being done "well" is far more difficult. But - for example - if someone's leading with their legs, it's pretty obvious.
 

bordertangoman

Well-Known Member
I have mixed feelings about it. I understand the assessment methodology, though, and do not believe that it is fundamentally flawed - but far from perfect. Mind you, I discovered in conversation with the examiner I mentioned earlier that she didn't know that tango was a progressive dance, moving around the line of dance. She thought that executing figures on the spot (like a Latin or slot dance) was OK. Hmm.



It's actually quite likely. But it will take at least five years - but that's nothing really, in the scheme of things ...
no it takes at least 10 years to become a tango examiner..and that's just to recognise the tango walk...:rolleyes:
 
I am curious whether there is an international teaching body regulating the teaching of say, photography or painting. Do such art teachers have to have a particular certification in order to be deemed competent? Should they be required to have such a certification? If I know a particular set of technical information regarding photography, does that make a good photographer? If I was to study a particular photography syllabus, will that make me a competent photography teacher?

Why the insistence on having certifications for tango teachers that resemble ballroom certifications? Is it just a ballroom quirk?
 

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