I am thinking about taking privates during the summer

#1
I am considering taking private lessons during the summer to speed up the learning process. Something like 1 or 2 hours per week during 4-6 weeks in July and August.

First perhaps a few words about myself. I took 4 months of lessons as a complete beginner between January and May 2016. Went to a few milongas and a few practicas. I liked tango and I got an idea of the mountain to climb. But I didn’t restart tango lessons between September 2016 and June 2017 because I was doing an Atlantic tour with my sailboat (Belgium -> Britanny-> Galicia -> Lisbon -> Canary Islands -> Carabean Islands -> Azores Islands -> Canary Islands). Restarted tango lessons in October 2017 at beginner level with a different teacher.

What am I able to do at this stage? I would say that I understand the basics, even though execution is probably far from perfect. Beside elementary steps, we have trained giros CW and CCW including sacada in side step, 8CB with led cruzada and various exits from 8CB, sanguchito, and ocho cortado.

What would I like to improve?
- How to eliminate the need to check the feet of my partner from time to time.
- Navigation skills. How to react elegantly to navigation problems.
- Dancing with more musicality. With focus on milonga and vals music which I find more complicated than tango.
- All kinds of small, easy sequences to bring more variety in my dance, but without using new techniques. I am thinking for example of sequences like the Baldosa box



I don’t really want to learn new techniques, because I will do so during the regular lessons at intermediate level next year.

What do you think? Good or bad idea? Any suggestions?
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#2
The beginners - intermediate (beginners) are have too much energy and are a bit like firecrackers.
And there are too much stuff going on and it is common that they get overwhelmed by the sheer information needs to be processed.

I never took privates and turn out just fine (at least I believe so).
I am not against private classes per se, but I do think that you don't dance enough for privates.
All those things you have issues should be covered in the group classes.

What would I like to improve?
1. How to eliminate the need to check the feet of my partner from time to time.
2. Navigation skills. How to react elegantly to navigation problems.
3. Dancing with more musicality. With focus on milonga and vals music which I find more complicated than tango.
1) Slow down and try to feel on which leg she is standing on.
But before you are able to feel your partner you need to be able to feel your own movements.
Play a lot with changing systems (parallel -> cross, and vice versa)
That should bring some awareness on active leg.

2. When you get comfortable with your technique and learn to feel your partner
you will be able to focus on the ronda / pista.
What also may help you is observing the ronda while you sit out.
A lot of dancers have some patterns so by watching them you may predict their reactions
while you are surrounded by them.

3. Take some music theory lessons (Youtube or some MOOC)
When you start to recognize the structure of the music, musicality will become easy.
Listen music a lot. And try to isolate instruments and layers of music.
When you learn to isolate every layers, try to combine them while listening the music.
Play with transitioning from layers, melodies, beats, vocals, ...


Demos are from tango, but it shows how knowing the structure helps dancers to express musicality

Milonga and vals are different in structure and being on time may look the same from the outside,
but I dance differently although dancing same figures.

I realized that many people are not able to hear the music at the beginning.
It takes a lot of listening and "slowing down" to recognize the structure in music.
 
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#3
The beginners - intermediate (beginners) are have too much energy and are a bit like firecrackers.
And there are too much stuff going on and it is common that they get overwhelmed by the sheer information needs to be processed.
Maybe lol. I think I am past the phase where I am overwhelmed. I understand the principles of the dance. I understand that there are a lot of things that I need to improve. My short term objective is simply to become a passable dancer.

I am not against private classes per se, but I do think that you don't dance enough for privates. All those things you have issues should be covered in the group classes.
I would spend more time on tango if I felt that I could lead passable dances. I also feel that group classes are a good approach to learn new techniques, but not to work on the issues I mentioned.

1) Slow down and try to feel on which leg she is standing on.
But before you are able to feel your partner you need to be able to feel your own movements.
Play a lot with changing systems (parallel -> cross, and vice versa)
That should bring some awareness on active leg.
I have got to the point where I usually know what leg my partner is on. When I look down now, it is usually when:
- I want to check that things are the way I think they are.
- I don’t get the result I wanted. See my thread on the ocho cortado for example.
- I want to position my leg for the sacadas on the side steps in the giros.
- I want to locate the foot of my partner for the sanguichito and other similar moves.

I know I should learn not to look down. I would assume that a decent teacher should be able to train that.

2. When you get comfortable with your technique and learn to feel your partner
you will be able to focus on the ronda / pista.
What also may help you is observing the ronda while you sit out.
A lot of dancers have some patterns so by watching them you may predict their reactions
while you are surrounded by them.
I like to watch how others dance. But I don’t think it is a very efficient way of learning interesting patterns.

3. Take some music theory lessons (Youtube or some MOOC)
When you start to recognize the structure of the music, musicality will become easy.
Listen music a lot. And try to isolate instruments and layers of music.
When you learn to isolate every layers, try to combine them while listening the music.
Play with transitioning from layers, melodies, beats, vocals, ...
Nice videos. Thanks for that. My problem isn’t with the music per se. I understand the structure of the music, I do hear the different layers, I do listen to tango music, etc. My problem is how to translate the music into dance. I accept that this is going to be a long (read: infinite) learning curve. But I am looking for a way to kickstart the process.
 

tangomaniac

Active Member
#4
I am considering taking private lessons during the summer to speed up the learning process.

What am I able to do at this stage? I would say that I understand the basics, even though execution is probably far from perfect. Beside elementary steps, we have trained giros CW and CCW including sacada in side step, 8CB with led cruzada and various exits from 8CB, sanguchito, and ocho cortado.

What do you think? Good or bad idea? Any suggestions?
You wrote even though execution is probably far from perfect... That's the place to start. Understanding figures doesn't mean you lead them well.

Do you feel in sync with your partners? How well do they follow? Are you on your balance? Is your partner on balance?

My teacher, Joe said, "The HOW is always more important than the WHAT."
 
#5
You wrote even though execution is probably far from perfect... That's the place to start. Understanding figures doesn't mean you lead them well.

Do you feel in sync with your partners? How well do they follow? Are you on your balance? Is your partner on balance?

My teacher, Joe said, "The HOW is always more important than the WHAT."
I understand what you are saying. But improving the how comes from a lot of practice and training. I noticed for example that I sometimes get out of balance at the end of my sacada into the side step of a giro. Probably linked to my pivot. OK, problem noted. One thing more that needs attention. But I don’t think that privates are particularly suited to address that kind of problems. It is more a matter of practice and perhaps home exercices such as this:


I wanted to focus more on navigation and musicality because it doesn’t get much attention in class. And I don’t have the impression that it will get much attention in the future either. I feel that a bit of instruction could help me establish a foundation on which to build further on. I don’t see why getting better at navigation and musicality should stand in the way of improving other things as well.
 

Mladenac

Well-Known Member
#6
@Numawan you might work on your reading skills as well

So you realized your weaknesses.
What did you do to overcome it.
Why do you think that privates will help you?
Are you able to recognize what your partner listen in the music?
 
#11
(I suppose below the line will the total costs remain the same, if not less.
But one has to be able to afford it to leave the peer group of class attendees and to be "the one who strives to be outstanding".)
Compared to sailing, tango is downright cheap anyway.

I would hope indeed that privates are at least twice as efficient as group classes.

With regard to the peer group, it doesn’t really matter. Next year, I will follow the intermediate level classes, which in all likelihood will consist of a different group of participants.
 
#13
It isn’t only a matter of simply following classes, but also of being part of the community. Getting to know potential partners during the classes makes it easier to dance together at practicas and milongas and makes the experience more pleasant IMO. Furthermore, these intermediate level classes are on Tuesday 20:00, just before a practica at 21:00. It just flows naturally to first go to the classes and then attend the practica.
 
#15
Compared to sailing, tango is downright cheap anyway.

I would hope indeed that privates are at least twice as efficient as group classes.
A woman wrote about group classes on Tango L. 80% of the class time is spent teaching the leader how to lead the demonstrated figure and the follower's role is to help him lead. So men get 80% of the class time and value and the women get the rest. But leaders and followers pay the SAME price for the class. How's that for equity?

Can the leader figure out why the demonstrated figure isn't being executed correctly? Can a follower get better if the leader can't lead? Can they figure it correctly without defense mechanisms kicking into overdrive?

Dancers have unique problems that can't be solved in a group environment. I started with group lessons and realized I was in over my head. Private lessons gave me the understanding that I NEVER got from group classes because you don't get individual attention from the teacher. If the teacher is just showing steps...
 
#17
I would hope indeed that privates are at least twice as efficient as group classes.
I've simply forgotten more than 90% of the figures I learnd in (around 100) group classes.
What I deepened in (around 10) privates is present in every dance. Standing, walking, two turns to the left and right, one ocho cortado.
Maybe taking effect is only the assurance and feedback that these basics are stable and pleasant.
 

Gssh

Well-Known Member
#18
Let me throw out another option:

A lot of the things you are looking for (navigation, sensitivity to the partner, musicality, utilizing vocabulary on the fly) seem to me not as much a question of technique/practicing, but of accumulating experience actually dancing. The most helpful thing for this are miles on the dancefloor (preferably on a dancefloor with enough people to get at least a bit of a nice ronda going). With the vocabulary you outlined above (walk, ocho, cw and ccw giro, cross, ocho cortado, mordida), and the variations available from that (leaving the giros at any of the follwers steps, into any of the possible exits) milongas should be more than managable, and the best teacher for flexible use of vocabulary/technique is the ronda - if there is only spot to go to you will find a way to get there ;).

I would suggest you either try to spend as much time as possible at local and semi-local milongas to experience a wide variety of rondas, followers and djs, or think about going to a few festivals. As a intermediate dancer this is often somewhat mentally exhausting, but with the right attitude it becomes not (only?) frustrating, but the best opportunity to work on ones dance by reflecting and accumulating experience. A rhythm of about 1/2 or more of thinking about the last dance, watching other dancers, and listening to the music, and 1/2 of dancing does usually work for me when i am working on something and not just dance for fun - more dancing tends to become frustrating, and problems/errors seem to accumulate and not become less over time. It is a somewhat tough approach, but if you have the mental energy it can be really rewarding.

The ronda is the heart of tango, and it determines so much about the technique and vocabulary and aesthetics of the dance. It is always obvious when dancers try to study tango starting from a single couple (or even worse from a single dancers) perspective without appreciating that it is a communal dance. Everything besides the social dance is either practicing ones skill for social dancing, or demonstrating hypertrophied versions of the social dance.
 
#20
Numuwan, I think you are on the right track and it's easy to over think. And, this is especially true for Tango dancers who tend to be driven to be high achievers. I suspect you fall into that category as it takes clarity of thinking and setting high goals to sail as you have done.

You write "
What would I like to improve?
- How to eliminate the need to check the feet of my partner from time to time.
- Navigation skills. How to react elegantly to navigation problems.
- Dancing with more musicality. With focus on milonga and vals music which I find more complicated than tango.
- All kinds of small, easy sequences to bring more variety in my dance, but without using new techniques. I am thinking for example of sequences like the Baldosa box"

You ask all the right questions. I'd suggest let your instructors guide you. Set aside one or more of your lessons on each of those topics. As some others have pointed out, practice is also key so that you have the muscle memory to do a simple move well (on axis, on balance, with disassociation, etc).

Based on my experience and years of privates and public classes. Here are my answers.

1. to eliminate the need to check the feet of your partner, you have to know where she is and to know this as well as to know where you are. I don't think enough time is spent in classes teaching leaders to sense where their partner is in space. So, take a really simple move like an ocho with a parada and really analyze it with a couple of willing partners. Where is their foot when you parada? Did you lead it there or did they do it on their own? Where is their foot relative to their hips; to their shoulders; to your chest? You want to get to a point where you really understand your body and where it's leading the follower AND then understanding if the follower is following or doing something on their own. When you lead well you have the technique to invite the follower to a particular place and the skill set to control or adapt when they arrive there. It's more complicated than this, but the more you examine where you are leading someone, the more comfortable and confident you will be in your moves. I'm always amazed at dancers who back sacada followers effortlessly. It comes from an understanding of their own bodies and where the follower is.

2. set up cones or chairs in a 3ft square or similar and dance within that. Some instructors will have a class dance a tanda and they will be moving chairs and other obstacles around. Or, they make the room smaller by putting boundaries in place. This will help you dance in confined spaces and it will feed into learning moves that fit within small spaces (ocho cortados, molinetes...).

3. Musicality comes with time and practice. The more you recognize tango songs you'll know where to put in the quicks/slows/or holds.

Overall, you have the right set of questions, an analytic mind and the right attitude about classes (learn something if you can, but they are also good for meeting people for the upcoming milonga or just plain socializing). Privates are the fastest way to learn but they don't replace practice. I know plenty of folks who take privates but don't put in the time to practice. They get better incrementally but I think practice is key.
Cheers
 

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