How Useful is the DVIDA Syllabus?

#41
Steve: I don't think he was hoist by his own petard (one of my favourite phrases, by the way), but being as true to himself as he could be - giving us enough information that we could read between the lines: I reckon it was this:-

'I am paying my respects to my instructor, by passing on his method... but I am teaching Tango for the love, and don't want you to be led astray by this thing that, frankly, I would rather you didn't know.'

Bless....

OK, it was a waste of time and money, but he taught it in such an embarrassed and responsible way that no harm was done; and he does more than enough free, extra-curricular stuff for us to have made up for it.

I'd still love to know if it actually does have any useful purpose though....

Re: Improvisation/patterns: Our entire cognitive and sensory apparatus is based upon forming patterns, so we'll naturally do so in TA to some extent (and some 'moves' go really well together - better than any of the alternative permutations).

It's like 'No - It Must Be Pure Improvisation' is the highest peak to be aimed for, but in reality.... I take it to be a bit grayer: 'Don't get too attached to the completion of your molinete, son, because anything could be cruising into that arc, at any point - be prepared to spontaneously adapt immediately, at all times'.
 
#43
Dchester: I think the difference might be that a sports drill or kata is so different in form from anything that you would actually do in the actual performance of that sport/martial art, as a thing in itself - it's understood that you'll only use each separate bit of it now and then; not the whole thing, in that sequence.

But the 8CB is similar enough to what you might use, in that sequence (barring the back-step, hopefully), in performance of that dance - it gets stored in a different part of the brain than a kata would.

Some people struggle to not use the 8CB on the dancefloor, despite their profound desire to not use it... 'nobody' attempts to run through a kata in a fight.
 
#44
Hey Guys

I am just wondering how useful the DVIDA DVDs are in regard to learning Argentine Tango....

I get instruction one on one, but it's only once a week and it's not enough for me. I know DVIDA has a Syllabus put out and has DVDs, but I've always heard the best way to learn AT is to do it through experience, and not watching... although one can learn a lot by watching, too.
Most masters in Argentine tango in Buenos Aires either have a syllabus or have methods that are repeated for many students. There is going always be discussion about artistry versus step patterns in their raw form. But the artistry generally comes after getting some basic knowledge of the patterns. There is very little way around that.

It would be interesting to put some people in a room that have never seen Argentine Tango before. Then play the music and ask them to dance with a partner (or by themselves) and "make up" steps. Then we could start to see what artistry without prior knowledge would produce.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#45
Dchester: I think the difference might be that a sports drill or kata is so different in form from anything that you would actually do in the actual performance of that sport/martial art, as a thing in itself - it's understood that you'll only use each separate bit of it now and then; not the whole thing, in that sequence.

But the 8CB is similar enough to what you might use, in that sequence (barring the back-step, hopefully), in performance of that dance - it gets stored in a different part of the brain than a kata would.

Some people struggle to not use the 8CB on the dancefloor, despite their profound desire to not use it... 'nobody' attempts to run through a kata in a fight.
I'm not into fighting, thus I have no idea what a kata is. An example I'll use is basketball. Like most sports I've played, you have to be able to improvise to be good at it, but that doesn't change the fact that there are fundamental skills that you need to be good at, and thus one practices them all the time. Lots of dribbling drills come to mind where you practice various sequences, knowing full well that all of the various bits will likely be used, but not in a predetermined sequence.

To me, that's very much like drills I do in tango (the 8cb being one such drill). I practiced the 8cb quite a bit (especially when first starting out), but I've never done that pattern in a milonga. To me, it's just a drill.
 

JohnEm

Well-Known Member
#46
Steve: Re: 8CB: I guess, if you look hard enough, you'll see examples of anything being taught - s'ppose it's about why it's taught, specific to each teacher, and what the percentage is of teachers who teach it....

To this day, I have no idea what it's supposed to be for (even having read many posts about it), and I didn't want to put our teacher on the spot by asking him... he seemed a bit confused about the whole affair as it was...:-

"So, we'll start with the 8CB... though TA doesn't really have a 'Basic Step'... it's all improvised so you shouldn't think in terms of sequences... it's just a teaching/learning construct - and whatever you do, don't use it when actually dancing! Soooo... Step 1...." :confused:
It's a lazy concept apparently invented by Argentinian teachers
as a quick and easy teaching aid for classes. So yes you'll come
across it in BsAs apparently and all over the World with the excuse
that it gets people dancing.

So it becomes the first thing a beginner learns and then, as if that's
not bad enough, teachers use it to start some figure from a count
or position number within the Basic 8. It just ingrains the whole
concept even more.

However people in small groups can be taught without any reference
to the 8CB. My belief is that the 8CB (and even worse with the DB!)
should be avoided.

Re: Improvisation/patterns: Our entire cognitive and sensory apparatus is based upon forming patterns, so we'll naturally do so in TA to some extent (and some 'moves' go really well together - better than any of the alternative permutations).
Yes, a neat explanation of why the Basic/8CB should not be used as any
basis for AT. As a beginner you end up stuck in the pattern and yet to
be successful in making anything of the dance you have to throw it away.

It's one of the reasons for my signature.

It's like 'No - It Must Be Pure Improvisation' is the highest peak to be aimed for, but in reality.... I take it to be a bit grayer: 'Don't get too attached to the completion of your molinete, son, because anything could be cruising into that arc, at any point - be prepared to spontaneously adapt immediately, at all times'.
Absolutely.

And not just for avoidance/navigation but also for reasons of musicality.
 

JohnEm

Well-Known Member
#47
To me, that's very much like drills I do in tango (the 8cb being one such drill). I practiced the 8cb quite a bit (especially when first starting out), but I've never done that pattern in a milonga. To me, it's just a drill.
It just goes to show that we are all different; some of that difference is in
the teaching, some is in the attitudes and experiences of the students.
You have been fortunate to have seen it only as a drill, not being tempted
to use it otherwise.

But I have experienced teaching that uses it as the basis of the dance.
And it wasn't one isolated example plus I have DVD using a variant,
the 8CB without the Dreaded Backstep.
 

JohnEm

Well-Known Member
#48
Just looked at most of "Tango: Our Dance" last night. Guess what at least
one big name in AT uses as a basis for teaching? The Eight Count Basic.
Alberto Paz and Valorie hart? Eight Count Basic.
National Geographic drops in on a tango class in Buenos Aires,
and what do they see? Eight Count Basic.
To counterbalance that, in their book Gotta Tango they dismiss the Basic8
as a useful pattern for on the dancefloor. Then they introduce another
basic pattern instead, effectively a 6 step parallelogram. I find the writing
style both in "Gotta Tango" and "Tango: Our Dance" not very helpful
to learning. It's not that they don't try, they may almost be trying too hard.
Conveying a dance in words and static pictures is never going to be easy.

Honestly, the more I've looked into this (being two "improvised dances", West Coast Swing and Argentine Tango), meaning, the recorded history of the dances, the more I've come to have the opinion that the emphasis on improvisation, as a concept taught to beginning students, is a recent phenomenon.
Teaching it to beginners is never going to work but explaining that as the
target is no bad thing. But first you have to become skilled in all the various
techniques which takes practice, lots of it. Then when you have the spare
mental capacity, improvisation becomes a possibility.

And of course, don't try to tell Skippy Blair that there aren't any basic
patterns in West Coast Swing.
Well I for one never would as you well know Steve!
Comparisons of the actual Tango and WCS dances aren't very relevant
even though there are parallels in other broader areas. Tango is improvised
in close hold and WCS is an open dance where the pattern is part
of the fundamental connection for the synchronisation of lead and follow
much like most (all?) latin and jive style dances.

The levels of potential improvisation are very different.
 

dchester

Moderator
Staff member
#49
But I have experienced teaching that uses it as the basis of the dance.
And it wasn't one isolated example plus I have DVD using a variant,
the 8CB without the Dreaded Backstep.
OK, this explains the difference in our view of it. I would agree that it is most definitely not the basis of tango. If people are claiming it's the basis of tango, then I understand why people would react so negatively to it.

When I first was exposed to the 8CB, it was made clear that the term "basic step" in tango had no relation to what basic step means in ballroom (and that tango was very much an improvised dance).

As an aside, I will say that I've had more than one teacher say that it's a shame that some people are trying to take the backstep out of tango.
 
#50
Steve: Re: 8CB: I guess, if you look hard enough, you'll see examples of anything being taught - s'ppose it's about why it's taught, specific to each teacher, and what the percentage is of teachers who teach it....
I don't use the 8CB - I appreciate that it can be useful, but it's just too much of a danger, people too often use it as a sequence in social dancing. Fundamentally, the 8CB doesn't teach you lead-and-follow.

"So, we'll start with the 8CB... though TA doesn't really have a 'Basic Step'... it's all improvised so you shouldn't think in terms of sequences... it's just a teaching/learning construct - and whatever you do, don't use it when actually dancing! Soooo... Step 1...." :confused:
Yes, that's pretty much why I don't use it :D
 
#51
While there is no "Basic Step" in AT in the sense that the dance "follows" the music which has no regular overriding beat, thus having no regular repeated "step", (I think here of One Steps, the Castle Walk, the "classic" Two Step, etc as "walking dances", too), there certainly are "patterns".
There are patterns that occur in social dancing, definitely.

The most obvious one is the giro. I've come to the conclusion that the giro has to be learned at least partially as a pattern. It's simply too difficult to learn / teach it as a set of improvised-and-separately-led steps, and it's just not a "natural" way to walk around someone.

You could also argue that there are pattern-like elements with other movements - for example, the cross and the ocho cortado.
 
#52
Most masters in Argentine tango in Buenos Aires either have a syllabus or have methods that are repeated for many students.
Yeah, but a syllabus doesn't have to involve patterns.

Yes, the DVIDA syllabus is heavily pattern-based, but that's not essential.

I like the idea of a syllabus. I just don't like the idea of having it all about patterns.
 

bastet

Active Member
#53
Yeah, but a syllabus doesn't have to involve patterns.

Yes, the DVIDA syllabus is heavily pattern-based, but that's not essential.

I like the idea of a syllabus. I just don't like the idea of having it all about patterns.
I's agree with you on that. (Didn't we have a discussion like this last year at some point?)

A syllabus as related to dance, to me, doesn't mean you have patterns necessarily, but maybe a set of concepts that may build on one another and be taught in some sort of order. Or maybe just a set of guidelines or concepts that a teacher feels needs to be covered in a series of classes.

Some patterns may come in to play (like giros or ocho cortado) as a means to develop a concept , or because they are very common but aren't the reason for a syllabus, bu that's just my take on it.
 

JohnEm

Well-Known Member
#54
There are patterns that occur in social dancing, definitely.
Only because they fit together nicely so get repeated. But they can still
be lead movement by movement.

The most obvious one is the giro. I've come to the conclusion that the giro has to be learned at least partially as a pattern. It's simply too difficult to learn / teach it as a set of improvised-and-separately-led steps, and it's just not a "natural" way to walk around someone.
Well this depends entirely on what you mean by the giro. A giro is just
Spanish for turn and as such it can be lead step by individual step.
Just watch Ricardo Vidort and others. You could just as easily argue
that any turn is a giro.

If you mean the more choreographed open giro I have to agree largely
because it is an exaggeration of the grapevine with over-turned swivels.
And it isn't natural. And usually it isn't musical as it's a long pattern
usually executed to completion regardless of the music.
It's up to you to decide if that's what you should be teaching.

You could also argue that there are pattern-like elements with other movements - for example, the cross and the ocho cortado.
The cross is a distinctive feature obviously but it can be used or omitted.
And it is only a change of foot placement by the lady as a result of an indication
by the man which consequently involves a weight change.
In other words, except for the necessary weight change, it is entirely
lead and is not a learned pattern though the quality of its execution
can be improved through coaching and practice.

The ocho cortado exists as a name because the Nuevo Three coined it
or so they claim. They saw it as a repeated pattern but the milongueros
don't seem to have seen it like that and the constituent parts can all be
used separately and/or interrupted and/or be used with others.
 

JohnEm

Well-Known Member
#56
The grapevine motion (forward-side-back-side etc.)
Ok then we could probably have a long exchange about this but not here.
I believe it should indeed be taught lead step by lead step.
Too often I've danced with ladies who having been taught to power their
own giros go off on their own when sensing when the initial movement.
You have to let them go even if it is not what was intended.

Hmmm, I never thought about not teaching it at all... I dunno, it seems to be such a fundamental component of social dancing, at least in the places I dance, that it'd seem remiss not to teach it.
Yes it is. But it is what is taught and learned that I'm questioning.
 

AndaBien

Well-Known Member
#57
...The ocho cortado exists as a name because the Nuevo Three coined it or so they claim. They saw it as a repeated pattern but the milongueros don't seem to have seen it like that and the constituent parts can all be used separately and/or interrupted and/or be used with others.
I don't know who the Nuevo Three are, but I learned the ocho cortado from Susana Miller, who I believe got it from Cacho Dante. That was long before Nuevo hit the dance floor, I think.
 

JohnEm

Well-Known Member
#58
I don't know who the Nuevo Three are, but I learned the ocho cortado from Susana Miller, who I believe got it from Cacho Dante. That was long before Nuevo hit the dance floor, I think.
Oh you may well be right - who really knows?

The Nuevo Three are Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas and Chicho Frumboli.

Here is what Rick McGarrey says which is based on an interview with
Gustavo Naveira apparently:

After these early discoveries, incredible things began to happen. Naveira remembers: “One night we discovered that there were 98 possible ganchossame turn.) They also discovered the ocho cortado:ocho cortado... he invented it, the milongueros are using it, and they don't even know where it came from." Sadly, he says, Susana Miller eventually stole it from them, and they no longer have it.

And the full post is here:
http://www.tangoandchaos.org/chapt_6school/36nav3.htm
This page raises a few hackles with certain people though largely
I feel it is fair comment when the context is appreciated.

The relevant part of a long interview with Fabian Salas is here:
http://web.archive.org/web/20150915032411/http://www.totango.net/salas2.html

Happy reading!
 
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Steve Pastor

Moderator
Staff member
#59
Rick McGarrey has jumped the shark. His interpretation of what is said in that interview needs some work.
I hope everyone who is interested in this subject actually reads what was said, NOT what Rick's interpretation of what he thinks was said.

He (Rick) can do whatever he wants with his own website, which for the most part I have found to be excellent. I note, however, that when someone resorts to parody, and casual interpretation of someone else's words, they begin to lose credibility among those of us who are seriously trying to sort fact from fiction.
 

JohnEm

Well-Known Member
#60
Rick McGarrey has jumped the shark. His interpretation of what is said in that interview needs some work.
I hope everyone who is interested in this subject actually reads what was said, NOT what Rick's interpretation of what he thinks was said.

He (Rick) can do whatever he wants with his own website, which for the most part I have found to be excellent. I note, however, that when someone resorts to parody, and casual interpretation of someone else's words, they begin to lose credibility among those of us who are seriously trying to sort fact from fiction.
Well I'd agree that somehow his tone is at odds with the rest of his site.
However the interview with Fabian Salas by Keith Elshaw confirms the
general point I was clarifying about the Ocho Cortado. I wasn't bothered
about Rick McGarrey's sneering which is irrelevant here.
 

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