Cross Crisis

Mr 4 styles

Well-Known Member
#61
When do you cross? When you are lead to
When do you uncross ? When you are lead to
When do you step onto the crossing foot ? When you are lead to

When is the cross taken away and you step back onto that foot ? When you are LEAD to. End of thread ;):cool:
 
#62
Yes, that is why in tango there is no such thing as something you "always do", as, for example, you always change (or do not change) weight at a certain point. If you "always did it" one way, but then at some point you were shown another possibility, so from now on you "always do" it the other way, or it leaves you confused, it means a very basic understanding of how the dance works is still not here after all these years.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#63
In many ways it is the easiest of all dances: there is nothing to understand - just to feel and respond.
I'm jealous. Your experience is far different from mine. There was nothing easy about it for me. Among many other things, I had to learn how to feel and respond. I'm still learning.



The dance can't be learned, it can only be shared.
Sometimes, that's how it seems to me.




Anything you might 'learn' is not tango - steps, any steps, for example.
Hmm . . . This might be a semantics thing, but I don't agree with this. I continue to learn and (hopefully) improve. Learning new steps can sometimes help me learn more about tango, (although it doesn't guarantee that it will). You can discover new possibilities, and then learn (from practice) how to incorporate different elements into your dance. One can even learn how to make the embrace better for different partners.

Often, I learn that I've still got a long way to go.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
#66
I'm jealous. Your experience is far different from mine. There was nothing easy about it for me.
Don't be. I wasted three years, and a LOT of time and trouble trying to comply with my local community's expectation that tango should be 'taught', and in passive acquiescence that the available pool of 'teachers' could actually teach me, or anyone else, to tango. I later discovered that I was wrong on both counts. Goodness knows why it took me so long to discover that 'the Emperor had no clothes': I am a dance teacher myself, but that only served to blind me to what has now come to be obvious: that tango is 'simply' a series of improvised movements, shared in the embrace of a partner, and made in direct response to hearing and feeling tango music. Once you stop watching professional show dancers performing their carefully rehearsed tricks, like circus animals (and I do understand that they have to eat, but they could do something more useful and productive for a living), and start watching good, experienced, social dancers moving in an embrace, you realise that the whole commercially driven road show is just a massive falsehood.

If you allow them, the 'teachers' will start by leading you away from any sort of natural movement, any sort of spontaneity, that could have been moulded into a simple, but satisfying, form of dance. Instead, they will create a teacher-centered dependency based on contorted positions, artificial movements (he should do this; she should do that), and little by little, another batch of recruits are enslaved into the world of endless classes, workshops for years and years. Dancing tango, in any sense that an experienced social dancer would recognise does not lie at the end of that rainbow, sadly.

The longest-established 'teachers' in my city run classes. Just classes. No dancing. They are so successful at teaching people to dance tango, that they have felt no reason to organise any regular dance events for over five years - and this is a city with a BIG population in its metropolitan area (the ninth largest anywhere in Europe, including the great Capital cities).

I was at an afternoon dance recently at which someone I know had taken along a non-dancing friend, curious about tango. One or two of us overheard them talking, and when there was suitable music, invited her to dance. I danced a simple early 40s Canaro song with her, and really, we just walked, paused, and walked again. I tried leading a few simple rocks between the feet, introducing a little turn, and once managed to lead her into backward walks with very slight pivots, and she found herself dancing ochos. She started rather tense in the upper body, which made feeling the movements of her lower body challenging, but about half way through the song, she started to relax, and was as easy to lead (in a limited range of movements) as almost anyone else I danced with all afternoon. Someone else danced with her too, and they got on OK as well. Sadly, she will probably now look for a 'class', and a 'teacher' - she might be one of the 10% who don't drop out in the first month, but if she lasts the course (bad pun, sorry), she has the same tiny chance of not getting sucked in to the tango industry as the rest of us. It's so sad.

Leading tango is easy once you begin to understand the process of cause and effect: right now, you can only lead your partner to step forward, back, sideways or to stay put. Following tango is easy once you begin to stop looking for rules to follow, but just to move as you feel (and you are the best follower if you don't move unless you feel). Both processes require feedback and refinement, and both require separate time and effort to become familiar with the structures and patterns/norms of tango music. Neither require the intervention of a third party.

Before I stopped going to classes, I lost count of the number of times 'teachers' made their students practise patterns of movements with unsuitable music playing (usually as a background noise - no one was taking any notice of it). Once the 'support' of a structured class environment is taken away, the teacher's students are left, on their own, and they look mostly like frightened rabbits, caught in the headlights of oncoming traffic. The men stand on their right feet, wafting their left feet around in circles, and at some point (usually disconnected from any useful musical impulse), they drag their partner to the side. Then they walk her to the cross. Then they look lost, and start walking, usually with no discernible rhythm. How could it be otherwise? Their 'course' didn't prepare them for movement to music. The music was only ever incidental to their instruction, when, of course, it should have been of the essence.

Once you have shaken off the burden of being a student of one of these 'teachers', you discover a freedom to go to dances instead, and to invite/accept invitations to dance. Music plays, you embrace and you start to move. You dance within the limits of your shared vocabularly, and you dance the music. Bit by bit, you forget all those daft, contrived, sequences: the ones than never fit the music, and are unfamiliar to your partner (because you are no longer 'dancing' exclusively with your class-mates), and you find that tango is easy after all.
 
#69
There is nothing wrong with dance shows and performers, they can be good and useful. I enjoy a good show.
One just has to understand that what people are doing on stage/during a performance most often has virtually nothing to do with what is supposed to go on in the milongas.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#70
Jesus Christ, what a $hitty, pretentious thing to say. I wonder what your list of "useful" occupations is.
I think you're missing his point. IMO, he's saying in a more colorful way, that he had a lot of lousy teachers (and they should be doing something else). It's just an expression.

The main thing I would disagree with him about, is that his experience would then extrapolate to all other teachers. I have had some good teachers, and I do think tango can be taught. IMO, a good teacher can greatly speed up the learning process, (assuming they have enough sense to actually dance with the people who have problems / questions / etc).

I get why teachers teach steps and use patterns, and I don't think they are necessarily good or bad. However, many teachers do not adequately explain that it's a teaching tool and/or a drill, (and not the dance). If someone has played sports, they get the difference between drills at practice, and the game itself. They are very different things. Musicians spend a lot of time playing scales in various keys, and other such drills to increase their skills. Drills can apply to tango, but the drill is not the end goal.

In particular, I think many teachers of beginners are doing a poor job. I had a follower in a class (years ago) once ask me, "Why are you trying to lead the pattern? I already know my steps". Clearly, someone hadn't explained some things to her.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
#72
There is nothing wrong with dance shows and performers, they can be good and useful. I enjoy a good show.
I agree. But personally, I avoid social dancing events that are going to be interrupted by performances, and for two reasons:
  1. I don't welcome the interruption. I want to dance.
  2. I find that such events have a tendency to attract a different group of attendees, one that is less focussed on their own dancing or the music. I tend to find better dancing (better dancers?) at events where social dancing is, properly, the main attraction.
Performers can be good, but I find little correlation (in my own personal experience, YMMV) between good performers and good teachers.

One just has to understand that what people are doing on stage/during a performance most often has virtually nothing to do with what is supposed to go on in the milongas.
I don't think that the majority of dancers, whether they are beginners, or have been dancing for some time, make much distinction. Rather, they tend to view the performers' art as a higher version of what they can achieve, and they spend time and effort (often by seeking out instruction from performers) to emulate them. My biggest gripe with the whole commercial circus is that the route to being a teacher is so often to perform and/or compete. The end result is that there are far too many young couples on their teaching tours. The local teachers are all too happy to resell their workshops (at a markup), and both become aligned with the type of dancing that sells classes and workshops - rather than the sort of low key mentoring or instruction that could produce a first rate local community of dancers.

Once you accept the principle that social tango is a dance of the people, and not of the professionals, everything changes. In my view, things change for the better.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#73
One just has to understand that what people are doing on stage/during a performance most often has virtually nothing to do with what is supposed to go on in the milongas.
I don't think that the majority of dancers, whether they are beginners, or have been dancing for some time, make much distinction. Rather, they tend to view the performers' art as a higher version of what they can achieve, and they spend time and effort (often by seeking out instruction from performers) to emulate them. My biggest gripe with the whole commercial circus is that the route to being a teacher is so often to perform and/or compete. The end result is that there are far too many young couples on their teaching tours. The local teachers are all too happy to resell their workshops (at a markup), and both become aligned with the type of dancing that sells classes and workshops - rather than the sort of low key mentoring or instruction that could produce a first rate local community of dancers.

Once you accept the principle that social tango is a dance of the people, and not of the professionals, everything changes. In my view, things change for the better.
This really is the issue, (and the debate).

I currently think the truth is somewhere in the middle. They are clearly different, but at the same time, there is some overlap.


Disclaimer: I reserve the right to change my mind.

:D
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#75
UKDancer is sounding a whole lot like someone else whose first initial is J.
Once again I think how lucky I was to have some of the teachers I had. But then, I was the one who reached my own epiphany. I hasten to add, though, that I don't think you can get there without walking along the trail for some time. After all, I took lessons for 2 1/2 years.
 

UKDancer

Well-Known Member
#76
UKDancer is sounding a whole lot like someone else whose first initial is J.
Once again I think how lucky I was to have some of the teachers I had. But then, I was the one who reached my own epiphany. I hasten to add, though, that I don't think you can get there without walking along the trail for some time. After all, I took lessons for 2 1/2 years.
I assume you mean JohnEm: but, goodness, he and I don't agree very often... ;)

I wouldn't want anyone to think that I am 'anti-teacher' because I received bad instruction (although, it was pretty dire). Rather, I have come to believe that organised instruction based on a teacher/students relationship in a group setting is actually a terribly inefficient and ineffective format to communicate anything very useful about dancing tango. Too many people who set themselves up as 'teachers' (and anyone can, and often such people first pop up in an area with no existing tango community, and then they get to peddle their nonsense unchallenged) have no training as teachers and no obvious aptitude for what they do. They often have no real appreciation of the range of student learning styles that need to be catered for, they don't have a proper understanding of how to work with a group of students of differing ability or learning rates, and they haven't properly structured or sequenced their material in such a way that useful learning can occur for the majority in a sensible and progressive way.

The content of what they teach is very frequently questionable too. Many (in my experience) are barely competent dancers, themselves, and are rarely seen at local dance events (unless they are there delivering flyers for their forthcoming workshops). They don't dance with their students much or at all; and their students are rarely seen at local dance events, either, mainly because they can't dance.

Novice dancers would gain far more than they do from their endless classes if they found a regular practica to attend. The best way to learn to dance with social dancers is to dance with social dancers, and preferably ones with more experience than they have, themselves. The worst possible partner for a novice dancer is another novice dancer. And spending an hour or two, rotating around a whole bunch of novice dancers isn't much better.

Unfortunately, the commercial forces that underpin the tango industry (and it is a big industry, with a long reach) demand that practicas rarely get a foothold in an area. That dancers should be able to learn from their peers (in a wider sense, the only people they are ever going to dance with), in a non-pressured social environment, is directly contrary to the commercial interests of the tango industry. My own experience tells me that most tango communities are organised by teachers; and not by experienced event hosts, or DJs. A tango community in its infancy may only be viable when driven by the enthusiasm and commitment of an individual or couple, but once a community has become established, the role of teachers should be a very limited one. But they dominate. People who have been dancing (perhaps not very well) for years and years, keep attending classes and workshops, but they don't become better dancers. They have become class junkies, not dancers, totally dependent on their next workshop 'fix'. I hear the conversation between dancers at events: "Are you going to abc?", "Xyz needs gender balanced numbers, do you want to book with me?" These events are almost never dance events. Most class junkies never do start dancing socially. Some of them seem to believe that the 30 minutes of 'dancing' after classes IS dancing tango; and if they didn't keep going to class, they wouldn't even be able to remember how to do that.

Not all teaching is bad: of course it isn't. But my premise is that there really very little need for tango teachers at all. We'd nearly all get on better if we spent our time, effort and money developing and supporting vibrant local dance communities where peer-to-peer learning and support was the norm. Teachers have a limited role to play, but they shouldn't dominate.

So we each walk along our own tango path: and my premise would be that many, many people would be far farther down the road after, say, 2 1/2 years, if they had walked with their peers, and not in thrall to the tango industry.
 
#77
I think you're missing his point. IMO, he's saying in a more colorful way, that he had a lot of lousy teachers (and they should be doing something else). It's just an expression.
Well, if you want to say that he just didn't mean what he wrote but got carried away in ranting then fine. But as written, the part I quoted was pretty specifically insulting performers. Rest of the post was about teachers, and I didn't comment on that.

BTW, what's with all the swearing phobia?
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#79
from the DF Guidelines

4. Please do not engage in name calling, attacks on a person's character, deliberately inflammatory remarks, group stereotypes, or profanity (no matter how subtle
 

Angel HI

Well-Known Member
#80
from the DF Guidelines

4. Please do not engage in name calling, attacks on a person's character, deliberately inflammatory remarks, group stereotypes, or profanity (no matter how subtle
Thank you, Steve! That was easy.

To return to the point, or a more relevant one, I have posted often here that AT is the easiest dance on the planet. dChester and I have discussed (laughed about) this before. For others, let me briefly explain.

It is the only partnership dance that is based solely on simply walking and moving properly. There is no Ballroom Rise/Lower/Sway/Hover/Glide. There is no Latin Hip/Contraction /Roll/Third/Fifth Position This, That or the Other. It is simply to balance, to walk, and to move properly.

Then, why is it so damned difficult!?

This is a 2-point answer. 1. Because the operative word in the above phrase is "properly". A very, very, very few of us walk/move properly. We just were never trained to do so... kinesthetically. We learned to stand and walk as a child, run and balance as we grew, twist and turn as was necessary, but not necessarily correctly. Our habits became comfortable for ourselves, and everything that we came to learn, such as dance, we attempted to fit into 'our' learned sense of movement. What we didn't do naturally, we tried to correct by technique rather than by re-learning some basic and/or fundamental movement principles.

2. Secondly, literally 'everything' that we dance in Tango is done within the circle of the embrace. Then, to make it even more difficult, we know to step in/on only 2 areas of that circle... not where ever in the circle we please. The entire dance happens within this overlapped 2 foot space.

This is why the dance is difficult, but, in its basic concept, UK is correct... AT is the easiest dance on the planet, and, in the beginnings, we spend most of our time learning how to 'not' dance it.


Many times in class I see students who hear only what they want to hear, and do what they know, not what the teacher asked them to. It is not easy.
I refer to an old post by Lilly_, it's not really that students hear what they want to hear... they hear what they are trained to hear. They hear what translates best to their own thinking of how the move must go in order to be done within their learned parameters of movement. I believe this is what she meant. It is also why I give my dancers movement exercises at the beginnings of every class regardless of level. (sorry for the long post)
 

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