Help! Newby lost in tango

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
I know it is possible to lead crosses, but i can't do it with beginners. The lead to a cross gives a twisty, uncomfortable, ocho-like thing. I am starting to believe that the standard cross is to a large extent an adornment.
There could be whole books written on the different philosophies of the cross. Some say that the woman needs to learn that she crosses as a default unless she is prevented. Others say it is led. Its amazing how vehement people can get in these opinions. (like everything else in AT ;))

I have discovered that many leaders do not know how to lead a cross, but they don't realize it because the women all just do them automatically. Then the women cross even when you don't want them to because they can't feel any difference in having them led or not led because mostly they've never felt them led.

Most of the leaders I know who DO lead a cross, use a twisty way into it which, while not incorrect, is not something that I'm overly fond of as a follower. They don't know how to walk to the cross. In fact, many of the leaders who try to walk to the cross are positioning me so that its actually difficult to cross and I just put my left foot down next to my right instead of crossing over it. Then they say... "You're supposed to cross" in a correcting tone, even though I would have had to work against them to cross. (which is, in my book, the lead to NOT cross!)

(Grrr....) I KNOW its harder to walk to the cross and actually lead it... I'm not great at it either! Its easier to either twist into it or just count on the follower to do it anyway.

But I'm still in the "cruzada is led" camp rather than the "follower's should do it as default" camp. But I'm sure there are plenty who would argue with me....
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
"Wait before weight" was the clever attempt a cliche by one Argentine maestro not long ago.
The cross is led, but, as you said, not by the twistings and liftings and such that we often encounter. ...The follow, will feel herself to be slightly off balance, and will naturally feel the need to correct herself by moving across her right foot. I know I'm going to catch it over this....bring it. :rolleyes:
I, for one, totally agree with you. Led correctly, the cross feels natural to do in order to go where the body feels it is being "put". You can't NOT cross.

Wait before weight... I like it. I know that a problem I still struggle with (but less so than as a beginner, now that I am actively focusing on it) is anticipating and reacting to quickly. I think the reason many followers change their weight too soon is anticipation of what's being led rather than the lead occuring.

It also occurs (for me at least) when I am not centered well and on axis and I must transfer because I am no longer on balance and in control. I don't think I am alone in having to overcome the tendency to FALL to the weight change rather than move to it in a controlled fashion.

The fact that this "fall" is happening is often overlooked by both people because the "step" is correct, even though the timing is a smidge off. It feels to the leader like the follower is rushing (rather than being off balance) and it perhaps feels to the follower like they are simply moving briskly rather than recognizing that they aren't controlling their movements.

I discovered just how much I was using momentum to compensate for axis issues when a teacher had me do REALLY slow back ochos (and some other steps) on my own without holding onto anything. I mean REALLY REALLY slow.

I highly suggest this test for followers. Do slow back ochos in a smooth, completely non-stopping manner. Now slow them down to twice that slow (nobody voluntarily goes as slow as they need to) You'll find out pretty fast how much control you have and how much you've been relying on momentum in many of your moves.

And when you are relying on momentum, you'll always be transfering your weight too soon.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
"A teacher relayed a story to me one time about a beginner follower who did this same thing with the teacher, and ocho'd her way backwards into a wall."

I let one inattentive partner with absolutely no weight towards me continue walking backwards when I stopped dead. Basiaclly, I didn't hold her in place with my left arm. You see, another couple was several steps behind her/us. I never imagined that she would take 3 steps without me and run into that other couple. Then she asked me if I didn't think I should apologize to the other couple. Well, I hadn't lead her into them!

Yes, a pause is a pause. If you have a "good connection" with your partner, and the music has paused, it can be a nice quiet moment to just experience each other. Or an opportunity to change your posture, tighten the embrace... any number of things that don't require steps, or even an embellishment.

I am enjoying all of your stories about feeling the pain that we all seem to go through as leaders. It brings back lots of memories.

Regarding learning from experienced leaders... We are in a bit of a bind there, because even in practicas many women "don't want a lesson". They just want to dance. As if practicing something, and doing it incorrectly over and over again will make them better?

In "the day" you were investing in your own kin, or the children of a close friend. And, things were taken more seriously then. The women would not dance with you if you weren't any good. And I dare say that your mother or aunt wouldn't take you to a dance unless you knew what you were doing.
Now a days, outside of Argentina, we think of dancing as something that is supposed to be fun, and most people think it's OK to go to a milonga with a minimum of skills.
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
most people think it's OK to go to a milonga with a minimum of skills.
I think it is ok to go with a minimum of skills as long as you know that's where you are. The minimum skill needed to dance at a milonga is how to keep moving around the room and not stop traffic or crash.

Ooops! a lot of supposed "advanced" dancers haven't learned this yet either, so maybe one needs NO skills to go to a milonga!;)

I'd rather see beginners bravely getting out there and doing simple walking while paying attention to floorcraft, line of dance and flow, than get on a floor with the "show offs" who have no idea how to actually navigate because they can only do fancy stuff that meanders all over the place as though they are on stage by themselves.

You can always tell who's never danced in BA where its WAY too crowded for that stuff and you have to keep inching along at all costs. (Even after being warned, I was NOT prepared for how crowded the milongas there are... TOTALLY imtimidating!)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
Regarding learning from experienced leaders... We are in a bit of a bind there, because even in practicas many women "don't want a lesson". They just want to dance. As if practicing something, and doing it incorrectly over and over again will make them better?.
From the follower's point of view though....

Alot of leaders correct followers when it is actually the leader's mistake or a shared mistake. At least that's what happens here. It gets really old being corrected all the time by someone you feel is just as at fault for a problem but who won't take any responsibility.

Now I know that's not what you are talking about... you are talking about beginners and experienced dancers. But in general, I just don't think it is appropriate to "teach" someone who has not acknowledged you as their teacher or even as a better dancer. You just may not know what they are dealing with either physically (or psycologically.. with having mustered up the nerve to go at all. Its not that hard to scare people off because this dance is pretty intimidating)

In our area, the leaders all have some quirky things they do that are getting results only because the followers have learned what that quirk from that guy means. Its not actually a proper lead. So when someone who doesn't know the guy's "style" (and I use the term loosely since, as a teacher said to me once, "Bad technique is not a style") tries to follow him and can't, he assumes its her fault because everyone else "follows" him just fine.

This is the real downside to a small tango community, but it still doesn't make his lead good. In fact it insures that he will never lead it right. So its very annoying to be corrected under those circumstances. I've found that about 80% of the unsolicited "corrections" that have been so generously given to me by people at dances or practicas are actually instructions on what the guy needs me to do to compensate for his bad technique. This becomes very obvious when you get contradictory "corrections' from every leader out there.

Even if they are right, I still don't think giving a lesson to someone you dance with is appropriate unless the person invites your comments. You go to a practica to practice your own dance, not to fix the dance of others. You never know what they may be trying to focus on, and maybe they've been told what you suggest and just can't incorporate THAT TOO right now with all the other stuff in their head (and will get discouraged if you make an issue of it when they are trying so hard to remember something else)

Or maybe whatever happened is not usually a problem. I've had leaders "correct" me for single mistep (not an ongoing pattern, but one miss!) and possibly stop right there to "teach" me the step! For petes sake! Everyone makes mistakes... we don't need everyone of them pointed out. Keep dancing!

You can always hint at asking if the person is interested in a suggestion. You can even make a suggestion in a non threatening way like "Have you ever tried x? I know some of the ladies do that, and I think it works for them, you could ask them about it...".

I have "corrected" many beginner followers with this line:

"I'm not an experienced leader, so you'll get more information from my lead if you place your hand here..." and then I move their hand OFF the top of my shoulder where everyone seems to want to put it. This phrasing makes it about US rather than about HER, but it gets the change started.

So when I said that people should dance with more advanced dancers, I meant in actual teaching environments OR with someone whom they have acknowledged as someone they are open to learning from. Also, often just DANCING with a more advanced dancer teaches you quite a bit even without verbal feedback, so it is beneficial even if they don't see you as a teacher and you don't actively teach them.

I just think it is presumptuous to assume the teacher role with someone who has not acknowledged you as that, and "giving a lesson" to someone who didn't express any openess to it is innapropriate.

I will never forget the guy at a Milonga at the NYC Tango Festival who LAMBASTED me for all kinds of stuff after one dance of a tanda. He was EXTREMELY harsh in his criticism saying I would never be a good dancer if this and that. (mind you this guy asked me to dance after seeing me dance with my teacher.. he was a complete stranger) I was shocked and wanted to be rude back, but I calmly said (between gritted teeth)

"I know I still have a lot to learn.. I've only been doing tango for about 8 months and somewhat sporadically at that, and I've primarily danced with my partner over there and not with many different people.. but i"m doing my best"

His jaw dropped and he gaped at me and replied.. "You've only been dancing for 8 months? You are really good for only 8 months! I didn't realize. I thought from looking at you, that you were an experienced tanguera, and maybe even a show dancer! Do you want to dance another?"

I don't think his attitude would have been appropriate even if I had been dancing for a decade, but it just goes to show..... ya never know what's going on for the other person.
 
But in general, I just don't think it is appropriate to "teach" someone who has not acknowledged you as their teacher or even as a better dancer. You just may not know what they are dealing with either physically (or psycologically.. with having mustered up the nerve to go at all. Its not that hard to scare people off because this dance is pretty intimidating)
Even if they are right, I still don't think giving a lesson to someone you dance with is appropriate unless the person invites your comments. You go to a practica to practice your own dance, not to fix the dance of others. You never know what they may be trying to focus on, and maybe they've been told what you suggest and just can't incorporate THAT TOO right now with all the other stuff in their head (and will get discouraged if you make an issue of it when they are trying so hard to remember something else).
...this just sounds soooo TRUE! I remember my first two months (I'm now a seasoned veteran of 7 mos.), all was a whirling confusion and to have a teacher point to even one small correction became a major problem what with the fact that I knew that there was a million other things that I was having 'problems' with, too.... ugh, If it wasn't for the music and seeing the other couples dance so successfully, I would have given up half way thru my second month.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
However, there are some teachers who say that once the leader leads something, in absence of any new info, the follower should continue doing what was LAST LED until the leader breaks the pattern with a new lead. I don't agree with that idea at all, but I know some people who have gotten taught that.
:shock: Huh. I was taught pretty much the exact opposite. No moving unless led to. Finished something and no new information? Stand quietly.

To me, in AT, stillness IS a lead.
Abso-freakin'-lutely!
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
From the follower's point of view though....

Alot of leaders correct followers when it is actually the leader's mistake or a shared mistake. At least that's what happens here. It gets really old being corrected all the time by someone you feel is just as at fault for a problem but who won't take any responsibility.

Now I know that's not what you are talking about... you are talking about beginners and experienced dancers. But in general, I just don't think it is appropriate to "teach" someone who has not acknowledged you as their teacher or even as a better dancer. You just may not know what they are dealing with either physically (or psycologically.. with having mustered up the nerve to go at all. Its not that hard to scare people off because this dance is pretty intimidating)

In our area, the leaders all have some quirky things they do that are getting results only because the followers have learned what that quirk from that guy means. Its not actually a proper lead. So when someone who doesn't know the guy's "style" (and I use the term loosely since, as a teacher said to me once, "Bad technique is not a style") tries to follow him and can't, he assumes its her fault because everyone else "follows" him just fine.

This is the real downside to a small tango community, but it still doesn't make his lead good. In fact it insures that he will never lead it right. So its very annoying to be corrected under those circumstances. I've found that about 80% of the unsolicited "corrections" that have been so generously given to me by people at dances or practicas are actually instructions on what the guy needs me to do to compensate for his bad technique. This becomes very obvious when you get contradictory "corrections' from every leader out there.

Even if they are right, I still don't think giving a lesson to someone you dance with is appropriate unless the person invites your comments. You go to a practica to practice your own dance, not to fix the dance of others. You never know what they may be trying to focus on, and maybe they've been told what you suggest and just can't incorporate THAT TOO right now with all the other stuff in their head (and will get discouraged if you make an issue of it when they are trying so hard to remember something else)

Or maybe whatever happened is not usually a problem. I've had leaders "correct" me for single mistep (not an ongoing pattern, but one miss!) and possibly stop right there to "teach" me the step! For petes sake! Everyone makes mistakes... we don't need everyone of them pointed out. Keep dancing!

You can always hint at asking if the person is interested in a suggestion. You can even make a suggestion in a non threatening way like "Have you ever tried x? I know some of the ladies do that, and I think it works for them, you could ask them about it...".

I have "corrected" many beginner followers with this line:

"I'm not an experienced leader, so you'll get more information from my lead if you place your hand here..." and then I move their hand OFF the top of my shoulder where everyone seems to want to put it. This phrasing makes it about US rather than about HER, but it gets the change started.

So when I said that people should dance with more advanced dancers, I meant in actual teaching environments OR with someone whom they have acknowledged as someone they are open to learning from. Also, often just DANCING with a more advanced dancer teaches you quite a bit even without verbal feedback, so it is beneficial even if they don't see you as a teacher and you don't actively teach them.

I just think it is presumptuous to assume the teacher role with someone who has not acknowledged you as that, and "giving a lesson" to someone who didn't express any openess to it is innapropriate.

I will never forget the guy at a Milonga at the NYC Tango Festival who LAMBASTED me for all kinds of stuff after one dance of a tanda. He was EXTREMELY harsh in his criticism saying I would never be a good dancer if this and that. (mind you this guy asked me to dance after seeing me dance with my teacher.. he was a complete stranger) I was shocked and wanted to be rude back, but I calmly said (between gritted teeth)

"I know I still have a lot to learn.. I've only been doing tango for about 8 months and somewhat sporadically at that, and I've primarily danced with my partner over there and not with many different people.. but i"m doing my best"

His jaw dropped and he gaped at me and replied.. "You've only been dancing for 8 months? You are really good for only 8 months! I didn't realize. I thought from looking at you, that you were an experienced tanguera, and maybe even a show dancer! Do you want to dance another?"

I don't think his attitude would have been appropriate even if I had been dancing for a decade, but it just goes to show..... ya never know what's going on for the other person.
Absolutely beautiful post. Zoo. (So good, I opted to quote it in it's entirety.) 110% spot on. Couldn't have said it better myself, in a million years.
 

Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
I don't disagree with anything that's been written here. There is more than enough pain and annoyance to go around. But let's examine a few things.

"So when I said that people should dance with more advanced dancers, I meant in actual teaching environments"
One way of getting advanced dancers to come to lessons for less advanced dancers is to allow people to retake classes without charge. I know only one teacher who makes this offer. I won't do it any more because... Well, let's just say that being a dance dummy and being expected to keep your mouth shut even though your partner isn't doing what the instructor just explained in great detail, just doesn't suit me.
Even people with the best of intentions don't have an inexhaustable supply of patience.

Well, now I understand one of the reasons why people accept money to teach.

"OR with someone whom they have acknowledged as someone they are open to learning from"
Yes, and those are the people that learn "for free".
The ones that aren't open to input from more experienced dancers don't.
And, if they have a really annoying habit (or two or three) that they don't want to talk about or work on, what do they have to offer a more experienced dancer?

Note that, as I have written here before, I limit myself to one practica per week. So I am not talking about milonga behavior, but there are similarities.

"You go to a practica to practice your own dance, not to fix the dance of others."
I go to a practica to run into people whom I have danced with before, and enjoy dancing with. I will also often take a chance on someone whom I do not know. Their ability is no less important than their attitude. If I can't dance with them, and enjoy it, and they aren't interested in gaining from my experience, quite bluntly, what's in it for me?
And remember that in AT the stakes are fairly high with the tradition of the tanda.

I think all experienced dancers make this same calculation, unless they are there mainly for the social aspect of dancing. And I observe that there are many, many, experienced dancers who aren't really very good, but are very successful socially.

And, BTW, after two and a half years of taking many, many lessons, and dancing regularly for over 5 years, I still get the occassional off the wall "suggestion" from someone.
"May I offer you a suggestion?"
Here it comes...
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
From the follower's point of view though....

Alot of leaders correct followers when it is actually the leader's mistake or a shared mistake. At least that's what happens here. It gets really old being corrected all the time by someone you feel is just as at fault for a problem but who won't take any responsibility.
No argument with any of that.

Even if they are right, I still don't think giving a lesson to someone you dance with is appropriate unless the person invites your comments. You go to a practica to practice your own dance, not to fix the dance of others. You never know what they may be trying to focus on, and maybe they've been told what you suggest and just can't incorporate THAT TOO right now with all the other stuff in their head (and will get discouraged if you make an issue of it when they are trying so hard to remember something else)
While I agree that you go to a practica to practice (or possibly improve) your own dance, the person you are dancing with might also be trying to improve their dance. For example, if a leader leads something and it didn't go as expected, he'll likely want to try and figure out what happened. Maybe he led it wrong, maybe the follower was unfamiliar with the move, maybe someone didn't keep their balance, or a myriad other possibilities. While there typically is agreement that something went wrong, there's a lot less agreement on what caused it to go wrong (or how to correct it).

In any case, sometimes for a dancer to work on a move, they might end up wanting to correct a perceived issue with their partner. While this is inappropriate for a milonga, at a practica this sort of thing can occur. Basically, each partner should try and make some accomodations for the other, as it takes two to tango.

:cool:
 
From the follower's point of view though....

Alot of leaders correct followers when it is actually the leader's mistake or a shared mistake. At least that's what happens here. It gets really old being corrected all the time by someone you feel is just as at fault for a problem but who won't take any responsibility.
the old saying goes: The Guilty Dog Always Barks the Loudest:uplaugh: When I lead and I mess up, I say "sorry" or "my fault". When she messes up the once, I ignore it. If she messes up quite a bit then AT THE END of the tanda I will advise, usually starting with a smile followed by "as a fellow follower, I think you'd find it better if...". But I'm a woman. And I follow. So in that respect, my advice is never sneered at. Men that get lucky tend to be teh teachers because as teachers they tend to have that much more patience about them. (Maybe not here on DF but definitely all that I have trained with and seen). And this is why I advise post-beginning and intermediate ladies to seek out the teachers and dance with them. Screwing up with them is almost a pleasure.

Yestersay whilst lounging out on the sofa between dances the man seated beside me knudged me and then pointed. In front of us were a couple dancing and throughout the last tack the man's mouth was moving in such a way that kept us both glued. True enough at the end of the track, said man turned into the finger-wagging Fuhrer at the Nuremburg Rally. Said man steps back with arms out. Partner beside me knudges me again. I knudge him back. Man on dancefloor has gone from Fuhrer to mini-me-Pol Pot. And then (gasp) as he places his hands on woman's hips. Woman looks over at us (psychically sensing our dismay) and catches my eyes. I shake my head at her. With his hands now clasped on her hips the man tries (I think) to demonstrate a series of ochos as he attempts to move her from side to side. She (being much taller than he) looks down at him. The music starts. He's decided he's not a quitter and takes her in his arms again.

Man's mouth: off again.
Woman's bodylanguage: far from good.
Me: thrown
My Partner: equally thrown

And so my advice to men (esp. those who don't follow) if the advice cannot be delivered in a sentence consisting of no more than 1000 words and in a tone akin to Mother Theresa, then just write the dance off as a "bad dance" and move on to somebody else.
 
other, as it takes two to tango. :cool:
A lot of the problems that I've witnessed/seen is not so much the communication of the problem but more the way/volume/pitch etc. in which that information is being communicated. And so yes, it may take Two to Tango but it certainly takes Tone to Tango Better.
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
the old saying goes: The Guilty Dog Always Barks the Loudest:uplaugh: When I lead and I mess up, I say "sorry" or "my fault". When she messes up the once, I ignore it. If she messes up quite a bit then AT THE END of the tanda I will advise, usually starting with a smile followed by "as a fellow follower, I think you'd find it better if...". But I'm a woman. And I follow. So in that respect, my advice is never sneered at. Men that get lucky tend to be teh teachers because as teachers they tend to have that much more patience about them. (Maybe not here on DF but definitely all that I have trained with and seen). And this is why I advise post-beginning and intermediate ladies to seek out the teachers and dance with them. Screwing up with them is almost a pleasure.

Yestersay whilst lounging out on the sofa between dances the man seated beside me knudged me and then pointed. In front of us were a couple dancing and throughout the last tack the man's mouth was moving in such a way that kept us both glued. True enough at the end of the track, said man turned into the finger-wagging Fuhrer at the Nuremburg Rally. Said man steps back with arms out. Partner beside me knudges me again. I knudge him back. Man on dancefloor has gone from Fuhrer to mini-me-Pol Pot. And then (gasp) as he places his hands on woman's hips. Woman looks over at us (psychically sensing our dismay) and catches my eyes. I shake my head at her. With his hands now clasped on her hips the man tries (I think) to demonstrate a series of ochos as he attempts to move her from side to side. She (being much taller than he) looks down at him. The music starts. He's decided he's not a quitter and takes her in his arms again.

Man's mouth: off again.
Woman's bodylanguage: far from good.
Me: thrown
My Partner: equally thrown

And so my advice to men (esp. those who don't follow) if the advice cannot be delivered in a sentence consisting of no more than 1000 words and in a tone akin to Mother Theresa, then just write the dance off as a "bad dance" and move on to somebody else.
OMG. Have been there...and you're spot on.
 
Cor, it's enough to make one want to give up partner dancing all together. Did I read somewhere that in Berlin (I think) they have electro tango playing and have areas for tangueros and areas for just 'getting down with your bad self'... erm though I think James Brown's more conducive to that myself :)
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
A lot of the problems that I've witnessed/seen is not so much the communication of the problem but more the way/volume/pitch etc. in which that information is being communicated. And so yes, it may take Two to Tango but it certainly takes Tone to Tango Better.
I'll agree with that. Some people can be condescending (or snobbish) in their criticism (and they don't seem to have a clue that they are being rude).

I really don't have any problem with someone pointing out something that I'm doing wrong, as long as they are pleasant about it (and in fact, it is appreciated).
 

Peaches

Well-Known Member
True, how something is said is often more important that what is said.

However, I still don't want a lesson when I'm out social dancing. Particularly not when I haven't asked for one. (And especially not when the guy isn't skilled enough for me to respect what he's saying. I don't want to be "taught" the latest move from some workshop, when he doesn't even have his own balance and is constantly pulling me off mine.)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
"throughout the last tack the man's mouth was moving in such a way that kept us both glued. "

I remember a workshop with Rebecca Shulman where she said:

"You know what's not sexy in tango? ... TALKING. Talking is not sexy. Figure out a way to make it work without talking, and if you can't, ask a teacher"

She was speaking of the class participants in that workshop, but I think its a good rule of thumb. When in doubt (even if you aren't in doubt) keep your mouth shut. Or call over a knowledgble 3rd party that hopefully you both respect to help sort it out. Who knows? The "correcter" may actually learn something that way even though s/he thought it was the "correctee's" problem.

A follower friend of mine was complaining to me recently about a guy in her class that tries to correct and teach her when they dance together during the class. I suggested she just say "You're right, we're having a problem with this.. lets get (the teacher) over here to work with us" and then refuse to engage the guy and his "corrections" until the teacher steps in.

Basically as soon as you decide it your place to correct the other person, you are in a sense also deciding (however subconsciously) that the other person's input on YOUR dancing is probably not valid (and that they are "wrong"). AND you will convey that attitude clearly by the wording and tone you use. That's not a good way to "partner" or to solve problems. It is always better to say first.. "we're having a problem with this.. from my perspective, this is what's needed.. what do you think?"

I sometimes wonder how some of the tango dancers here could possibly be successful in any area of their life given their attitudes towards problem resolution and other people. Tact anyone? Win-win? What's with the monster egos? Its never the top dancers who are the most offensive. (hey, if Omar Vega can lead me without big problems or correcting me on the dance floor...why can't my local "at my level" classmates?)

But when I think of what Rebecca said, I have Tom Hanks in League of Their Own pop in my head... "Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball!" and I picture Rebecca going "Are you talking? There's no talking in Tango!"

Well, its good for a giggle anyway... which confuses the person trying to talk to me. (wink)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
I don't want to be "taught" the latest move from some workshop, when he doesn't even have his own balance and is constantly pulling me off mine.)
A guy at a milonga I went to said he wanted to try a move he learned in a workshop, but that it really couldn't be led.. the follower just had to know it. (so he wanted to show it to me so he could practice it)

And all I could think was... what good is a move that can't be led if you are at a SOCIAL DANCE?:rolleyes:

(PS - When he showed it to me, I knew it COULD be led, he just didn't know how... even with my rudimentary leader skills, I could guess possible ways, although it would be a very tricky, difficult lead and would take quite a bit of practice)
 

Zoopsia59

Well-Known Member
"One way of getting advanced dancers to come to lessons for less advanced dancers is to allow people to retake classes without charge. I know only one teacher who makes this offer. I won't do it any more because... Well, let's just say that being a dance dummy and being expected to keep your mouth shut even though your partner isn't doing what the instructor just explained in great detail, just doesn't suit me".

So you are actually talking about 2 things here.. the willingness on the part of staff to allow experienced dancers to take low level classes without charge to utilize their skills AND the willingness of those advanced dancers to take them.

In our area, if there is a leader/follower imbalance, more experienced people come to fill in and they are often not charged. So if there is a problem, it is more that the experienced dancers are not willing.

It seems to me that being in a class primarily to BE the more experienced dancer would be a different situation than correcting people at a milonga or practica, and the other person may be more open to it. After all, its a class and they are expecting to get instruction. And if the class is huge, it might even help the teacher. (theoretically, the teacher wouldn't have called fill-ins that s/he didn't respect as dancers for their technique)

But if the class is small (as most here are) why not just use your greater knowledge to simply gain the attention of the teacher and point out the problem? Or do people not get any individual instruction in the classes you attend?

I dont see anything wrong with offering suggestions in a class in which you are there as a more experienced dancer, as long as the teacher has no issue with it. (I did some of that last year with one teacher, but I did it with another who liked having me there that didn't want me to "teach" in her class) But if you are a fellow classmate at the same level TAKING the class, you have no business teaching during it. That's not what you were specifically talking about, but it happens here all the time.

"Even people with the best of intentions don't have an inexhaustable supply of patience."

Well, teaching takes an inexhaustable supply of patience. That's just the bottom line. I see little justification for someone who doesn't have the patience to be a real teacher to assume the role of teacher in a "fly in and fly out" manner with someone they just happen to dance with. That attitude rarely produces an approach that works for the "student".

Teaching is a skill too. Being a good dancer doesn't automatically translate into being a good teacher, especially for beginners, as your statement about patience illustrates. (and the best teachers for beginners aren't nessesarily the most "impressive" dancers)

If you know you don't really have the patience to be a teacher, don't teach.

" if they have a really annoying habit (or two or three) that they don't want to talk about or work on.."

They might have other annoying habits that they were told to work on and that's where their head is that day. What annoys you most might not be the same thing that the last person they danced with (or their teacher) finds to be their biggest issue. For you to decide what they should work on because it bothers you, is kinda presumptuous. And for all you know, they are trying to work on it, and they just can't get it yet and you correcting it is going to make them feel really rotten.

And that doesn't even address the possibility that your correction might actually CONTRADICT their teacher or someone else.

I got 2 completely opposing "corrections" at the last practica I attended, each from someone who is no more skilled than I, and as far as I'm concerned each INCORRECT, because they were both so extreme (and each was CERTAIN they were right) ...

One wanted me to have a stiffer - think ballroom - frame so I could be led by the arms without anything happening from the leader's core. The other wanted me to relax my arms to the point that they would have been wet noodles that he would have had to hold the weight of. Both of these people thought they were "more experienced" and both thought their "corrections" were valid. In my view, NEITHER was. But either way, I couldn't have made both of them happy with my dancing because they wanted opposite things. And I couldn't make either of then happy without "doing it their way" and ignoring what I believe to be proper technique.

If I can't dance with them, and enjoy it, and they aren't interested in gaining from my experience, quite bluntly, what's in it for me?

What do they have to offer? Well, how about the chance to be supportive and encouraging? The opportunity to allow someone to improve and concentrate on what they are trying to work on without having a sloppy partner making it impossible? Notice I din't say the opportunity to improve someone! It is not your job to "improve them".

If you don't think there's anything in it for you to dance with a lesser skilled person just so that they can have the experience of dancing with a better partner or feeling it a different way, then you shouldn't do it. If you are only dancing for yourself, then you will be frustrated dancing for the benefit of someone else.

Teaching should be about the best interest of the STUDENT, not something done so that the teacher can enjoy himself more.

You talk about people who are open to learning from a more experienced dancer... What about the people at or below your level who are "blaming"? Many of the leaders who correct followers in my area are NOT more experienced...

ok.. You know what? That's really a useless term anyway... what counts as experience? Years put in, or skill? Quite a few have been dancing for many years and they never improve and have rotten technique and always did. Maybe they have more years put in than someone else, but that doesn't make them more SKILLED. So are they "more experienced"? Experience is useless if it doesn'result in an increase in skill. Do you think those people would be open to MY corrections? Not a chance!

Its the "more experienced", but lesser skilled dancers who are the worst offenders!

And remember that in AT the stakes are fairly high with the tradition of the tanda.

At most of the dances I've attended, be they practica's or milongas, the women so far outnumber the men, that you can easily find someone to dance with for the last song in a tanda. That's when you can try someone new that may not work out well. Sometimes even the better women are sitting out. There are about 10 really good women for every half-way decent guy. So even the best dancers don't dance constantly here.

there are many, many, experienced dancers who aren't really very good, but are very successful socially.

So you just illustrated my point about "more experienced" dancers. It doesn't automatically mean they are more skilled or that their corrections are valid.

Their ability is no less important than their attitude.

That's where you and I are very different. For me, their attitude is probably more important. I'd rather do a simple dance with a leader who has a good attitude towards his partner, than a fancy dance with an arrogant jerk. My favorite partner is my fave because he is such a gentleman and the total experience is fabulous even though he has some, well, lets call them interesting, leads.

But I always feel GREAT (about my dancing, about myself, about life.. you name it!) after dancing with him. I hate to turn him over to the next person! And its not because he heaps praise on me.. he doens't even comment on my dancing at all. But he makes me feel somehow that dancing with me was the highlight of his evening. Without actually saying much! He makes EVERY partner feel that way. (followers compare notes, ya know)

Another guy is fun to dance with from strictly a dancing standpoint, but man oh man is he full of himself! EVERY follower complains about him and thinks he's the biggest jerk. Some refuse to dance with him. I did for awhile until we established a few "ground rules". I don't think he realizes that we all think he's a jerk. He thinks everyone is in awe of him.. its kinda pathetic.

Which guy would you rather be?

Tango is not a dance. Tango is an experience.

When the old timers talk about someone "having tango" they aren't refering to his dancing. They are talking about his connecting. Some old guy who barely moves can "have tango" while some hotshot doing alot of stuff has none.

Having tango is about how you make the other person feel during your brief time together.

Most of the people I've danced with don't have tango. When I dance with one who does... WOW.. its a whole different experience. I don't know if I have tango yet, but I've felt it from a few leaders and know what I'm aiming for.

after two and a half years of taking many, many lessons, and dancing regularly for over 5 years, I still get the occassional off the wall "suggestion" from someone.
"May I offer you a suggestion?"
Here it comes

Are you saying you don't welcome these suggestions? Why not?
 

Dance Ads