Adventures with an IDTA syllabus... :)

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
then you have to look at the various Tango sects ...

the dabbalistic school of my first dance is jive/salsa/ballroom and I'd really enjoy tango if it wasnt for the people and the atmosphere or the lack of it.
You really have to work at it, you know, to make the cross-over: the welcome is usually somewhat under-whelming, and a significant proportion of the tango community are just plain weird. ;)
 

bordertangoman

Well-Known Member
You really have to work at it, you know, to make the cross-over: the welcome is usually somewhat under-whelming, and a significant proportion of the tango community are just plain weird. ;)
Ah, i think i may fall under 'weird' but my weirdness is too unique to be a sect, though if i were it would follow the lines of Dudism- expect tango in dressing gowns..*

*Footnote: from the Dude website;
The beauty of Dudeism is its simplicity. Once a religion gets too complex, everything can go wrong.

That’s why the “To What/From What/By What Means” method of identifying a religion is a great way to summarize the Dudeist ethos for your un-Dude friends.

For example, if you apply this method to Buddhism (a compeer of Dudeism), you can easily answer what the point of it is.

From what is Buddhism trying to liberate us? Suffering
To what state of being is Buddhism trying to bring us? Nirvana
By what means does Buddhism attempt do this? The Noble Eightfold Path.

Isn’t that f***ing interesting, man? Now let’s apply it to Dudeism:

From what is Dudeism trying to liberate us? Thinking that’s too uptight.
To what state of being is Dudeism trying to bring us: Just taking it easy, man.
By what means does Dudeism attempt do this? Abiding.

Now, that’s f***ing ingenious, if I understand it correctly.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
Ah, i think i may fall under 'weird' but my weirdness is too unique to be a sect, though if i were it would follow the lines of Dudism- expect tango in dressing gowns ...
Actually, what I would expect is for someone immediately to come along to tell me what sort of dressing gown I need - otherwise it's not tango...
 
Well the teaching societies are trade associations (who want to be recognised as professional bodies, as well) and their real business (they are commercial too, in all but name) is to act as examination boards.
Sure - basically these are businesses designed around creating and selling standards, examinations, and associated materials (did I mention that the DVD was £40?).

I sort-of agree. Every teacher should bring structure to what they teach, and to have planned is very valuable. You could invert the definition and say that what is then delivered to the students is the syllabus of that teacher for that course of instruction, but arguably a syllabus for the dance genre is a rather wider thing, but one which must inform the teacher's own planning method, whatever form that may take.
Yep. On my side, I'm fully aware that the big missing piece from my teaching is any objective method of assessing the effectiveness of my syllabus. (Admittedly, that's also missing from the lessons from every other teacher, but I don't care about them)

So I guess I was hoping that I could get some ideas as to how I can properly assess the progress of students, other than saying "yep, you're coming along" or similar.

But this doesn't work for me. It's too much trying to be consistent with the BR stuff, and not enough trying to reflect the real world. I can't use it for my students for assessments. :(

Like all these things, I think if I want it, I'll have to do it myself...


As for the examiners not being AT specialists:
No, they're not. Individually, they might be, but in that role they would be self-appointed. They are, however, very experienced teachers themselves, and hold the highest levels of membership of their respective societies (holding multiple Fellowship qualifications in several branches) and they have trained for and are experienced in the methodology of their society's examination system.
I accept that they're undoubtedly very good at the specific methodology, and I'll even be prepared to assume that they'll be very good at identifying good teaching technique in general.

But - and I know this may be a silly question - if they don't know how AT is danced, how can they judge the demonstration part of the examination? :confused:

IDTA Examiners who wish to include the AT Diploma in their portfolio have to attend a short course (I think it is just a single day, but I'm not 100% sure). Again, I'm unsure of the scope of that course, but I would anticipate that it a familiarisation exercise with the scope and content of the syllabus.
"Learn AT in a day" :doh:

My examiner came from a dance school where AT is taught, but as Mr Spock would have said "Not tango as we know it, Jim", and I'm sure you will know the sort of thing I mean. It's easy to knock that sort of dancing, but it suits lots of people who just want to dabble a bit, and perhaps be able to get up at a mixed social dance and 'have a go' when the 2-3 tango songs are played over the course of the evening. They have to be able to remember their routine, of course, and you and I would not actually recognise that they were dancing tango at all, but let's face it, you won't be there, and they've paid their money (which is as good as yours and mine) and they are having a good time.
I'm completely happy with the "get them dancing quickly" approach - in fact that's what I try to do. But I'd say that a good grounding in technique will get people dancing, socially, much quicker than learning a set of figures.

In fact, I reckon I can get a beginner to the point where they can dance socially in close embrace in an hour, just by focussing on posture, intention and connection - the steps will be only forwards / back, sidesteps, and rocksteps, but they'll be dancing.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
Sure - basically these are businesses designed around creating and selling standards, examinations, and associated materials (did I mention that the DVD was £40?).
Actually that's cheaper than most, as that price includes VAT (sales tax) & delivery. The DanceVision ones (Cote/Garcia) are $49 from US (+ import VAT & shipping), but also available from UK at £39.95 (but that price excludes VAT & delivery, so they're effectively £50 each).

The DanceVision ones are much more useful, though, unless you want the IDTA one as a study guide for the Diploma.

Yep. On my side, I'm fully aware that the big missing piece from my teaching is any objective method of assessing the effectiveness of my syllabus. (Admittedly, that's also missing from the lessons from every other teacher, but I don't care about them)

So I guess I was hoping that I could get some ideas as to how I can properly assess the progress of students, other than saying "yep, you're coming along" or similar.

But this doesn't work for me. It's too much trying to be consistent with the BR stuff, and not enough trying to reflect the real world. I can't use it for my students for assessments. :(

Like all these things, I think if I want it, I'll have to do it myself...
Well the whole point of having a credible body who can devise a syllabus, assessment methodology and all the rest is that we don't all have to do it individually, if it's something we would value.

As for the examiners not being AT specialists:

I accept that they're undoubtedly very good at the specific methodology, and I'll even be prepared to assume that they'll be very good at identifying good teaching technique in general.

But - and I know this may be a silly question - if they don't know how AT is danced, how can they judge the demonstration part of the examination? :confused:
The scope of the syllabus is really quite narrow, you know. Most of us know what ochos look like, or a giro, and some simple sacadas. The standard required is suprisingly modest, too. By the nature of the beast, the candidate is going to have prepared a routine, and really only has to make it look like tango and not fall over. That section of the exam only lasts about 90 seconds, and half of that can be taken up by walking and weight changes.

"Learn AT in a day" :doh:
You can't have it both ways: if your own students can be dancing a simple dance in close embrace within an hour (and I've no doubt of it), then a whole day is ages ...
 

bordertangoman

Well-Known Member
That section of the exam only lasts about 90 seconds, and half of that can be taken up by walking and weight changes.


...
and judging from most demos you can waste a good 30-40 seconds standing on opposite sides of the floor. going through the throws doing the amateur dramatics of inviting the person to dance, she changes her mind, he drags onto the floor, spend a couple of bars getting into the embrace withas much fiddle faddle as possible then waving one leg around before taking your first step.....
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
Perhaps since this syllabus is originated from a ballroom society, the use of those terms is meant to indicate something to people who are trained in ballroom, where an "open" hold is one or less contact point (usually man's left hand, lady's right).

"Very close" would be the equivalent of the standard ballroom closed position, i.e. man holding lady's left hand, right hand on her back, body contact. "Close" would be the same, sans body contact. This is roughly equivalent to a latin ballroom closed hold, but since there is no context (ballroom vs. latin) to tell a person which of the two closed holds are intended, they've differentiated them via syntax.
A logical explanation, but it doesn't change the fact that they are still using incorrect language as it pertains to AT. If an AT-trained dancer tried to pass the equivalent ballroom exam, but didn't use the correct terminology and tried to excuse that by saying that the language they use means something to them personally, do you think that would fly? Somehow I doubt it.

Besides, we're talking about people who are presumably testing to achieve some sort of certification in an entirely different (not going to debate that here) dance. After learning the different hold, technique, leading, following, how to teach it all, not to mention the minor detail of the footwork...after all that, it's supposed to be believable that it's just too much to ask to learn some new terms? C'mon.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
A logical explanation, but it doesn't change the fact that they are still using incorrect language as it pertains to AT. If an AT-trained dancer tried to pass the equivalent ballroom exam, but didn't use the correct terminology and tried to excuse that by saying that the language they use means something to them personally, do you think that would fly? Somehow I doubt it.
Well, to play devil's advocate, it was the teaching societies who codified and named the ballroom figures in the first place - they were called whatever they chose to call them. Their attempt to do the same thing with AT might be met with resistance, but there is no uniformily agreed set of definitions available to use instead, and who knows, in 50 years, their chosen names may have stuck.

They're still daft names.
 

Joe

Well-Known Member
A logical explanation, but it doesn't change the fact that they are still using incorrect language as it pertains to AT. If an AT-trained dancer tried to pass the equivalent ballroom exam, but didn't use the correct terminology and tried to excuse that by saying that the language they use means something to them personally, do you think that would fly? Somehow I doubt it.
No one walks off the street and attempts to take an exam.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
The ballroom teaching societies can codify and name ballroom figures however they please. I don't care about that. That's their deal.

When it comes to codifying and naming AT figures...um, it's already been done. Long time ago. Yes, there is plenty of disagreement amongst ourselves as to various issues in AT, but we pretty much agree that the "hold" is always referred to as the "embrace" or "abrazo". We've pretty much agreed on what the 8CB is, and what a cross or cruzada is, and a whole host of other things. How we describe them may be different, but if we're only going to talk figures here, then there is substantial agreement. The hubris could be dropped and they could, I dunno, actually use the names that the actual knowledgeable practicioners of the dance use, and have been using, for ages.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
The ballroom teaching societies can codify and name ballroom figures however they please. I don't care about that. That's their deal.

When it comes to codifying and naming AT figures...um, it's already been done. Long time ago. Yes, there is plenty of disagreement amongst ourselves as to various issues in AT, but we pretty much agree that the "hold" is always referred to as the "embrace" or "abrazo". We've pretty much agreed on what the 8CB is, and what a cross or cruzada is, and a whole host of other things. How we describe them may be different, but if we're only going to talk figures here, then there is substantial agreement. The hubris could be dropped and they could, I dunno, actually use the names that the actual knowledgeable practicioners of the dance use, and have been using, for ages.
They could. I agree that they usefully might - but don't get hung up about the teaching societies being 'ballroom' ones. Not so. And it hasn't been so for decades. That is where they started, but these days, other styles completely dominate the teaching society's membership and commercial interests.

In the most recently published analysis of my Society's income derived from examinations, Ballroom & Latin accounted for just less than 5% of the whole. So for every BR dancer, there were 19 others, doing something else. They may be the AT bogey man, but not with a BR label that could stick. We (BR teachers) are becoming a rare breed!
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
You are correct. My mistake. I was conflating your comments wrt teaching societies codifying ballroom with Joe's comments about things originating from a ballroom society for use by people trained in ballroom.

I know you're touchy about the perception of BR. i don't blame you, a lot of the time. But you're not the only one who's got touchy bits. (Er...wow...that comes across wrong. LOL.) There are slights and insults (both real and perceived) and condescention (I know that's not spelled correctly.) on both sides of the aisle. Some richly deserved, some not.
 
Well the whole point of having a credible body who can devise a syllabus, assessment methodology and all the rest is that we don't all have to do it individually, if it's something we would value.
Absolutely. I fully support that principle. And I really would like someone to do that job.

But the IDTA is not, at current, a credible body in the AT world - and frankly I doubt will ever be such, if they try to pretend AT is "like another BR dance" and try to squash the dance into their predefined mould.

The scope of the syllabus is really quite narrow, you know. Most of us know what ochos look like, or a giro, and some simple sacadas. The standard required is suprisingly modest, too. By the nature of the beast, the candidate is going to have prepared a routine, and really only has to make it look like tango and not fall over. That section of the exam only lasts about 90 seconds, and half of that can be taken up by walking and weight changes.
That's not really the point - the point is, you can't judge dancing unless you can actually dance that dance, at least to a minimum level. Still, on the plus side, that's good news for my demonstrator :)

You can't have it both ways: if your own students can be dancing a simple dance in close embrace within an hour (and I've no doubt of it), then a whole day is ages ...
:D As I'm sure you know, there's a world of difference between getting someone up on the dance floor as quick as possible, and knowing enough about the topic to credibly assess whether someone can teach and dance the correct way.

My point is, figures don't help you dance - in any dance discipline, but especially Tango.
 
and judging from most demos you can waste a good 30-40 seconds standing on opposite sides of the floor. going through the throws doing the amateur dramatics of inviting the person to dance, she changes her mind, he drags onto the floor, spend a couple of bars getting into the embrace withas much fiddle faddle as possible then waving one leg around before taking your first step.....
I'm looking forward to the video of your performance on the 26th ;)
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
Absolutely. I fully support that principle. And I really would like someone to do that job.

But the IDTA is not, at current, a credible body in the AT world - and frankly I doubt will ever be such, if they try to pretend AT is "like another BR dance" and try to squash the dance into their predefined mould.
Well, I'm a member, but accept (with regret) that what you say is right, and I doubt that things are going to change enough to make the difference any time soon. There's the UK Annual Congress in Southport in July: a four-day IDTA-fest, but nothing in the programme relating to AT - nothing!

But all such organisations started out small, and with a handful of members who had a belief that there was a worthwhile job to be done. I don't see any reason, in principle, why the founding members of the Tango Dance Teachers Society (or whatever) couldn't get together and knock up some broad definitions, an outline syllabus and start to compile a technique manual - and not necessarily on paper. It could be the first virtual society of its type - with everything online and shareable. The first Annual Congress could have a Saturday Night Milonga, and everything (really losing it, now ...)

As I'm sure you know, there's a world of difference between getting someone up on the dance floor as quick as possible, and knowing enough about the topic to credibly assess whether someone can teach and dance the correct way.

My point is, figures don't help you dance - in any dance discipline, but especially Tango.
First point: agreed, but what is the correct way, and who says so, you?

Second point: Not really. In some dance styles the figures are the guts of the dance - take them away and there's nothing left - and even with tango, they can be a useful way to illustrate an action or introduce a concept - and with that approach, presentation is everything, but they should only be a stepping-stone (but a useful one) to dancing without them. A good teacher recognises that there is a wide variety of learning styles in the student population, and figures/patterns help lots of people, and do not help others, but the students needs should come before the preferences of the teacher, or his/her own learning style.
 

Dance Ads