Teacher rating - criteria?


Active Member
Learning from professional teachers v. social dancers

In BA everyone seems to follow the rules which proves that floorcraft can be emphasized enough that people learn it. And you're right in that there are consequences for not following them. Perhaps where you are in CA, the milongas would be empty if rules were enforced, but that's not true everywhere. The people here who grossly violate any kind of floorcraft are doing moves they got taught in the classes they took. If they had been taught differently, they would probably dance differently. And there are no consequenses for what they do, not even a shortage of partners since there are so many followers and so few leaders, so there's no incentive for them to change.

Interestingly, when my partner first went to BA, he said he took some lessons there (had had very little Arg Tango prior) and got shown all the "tango-for-export" steps. When he went to a milonga, he had no idea how to adapt (but at least he recognized that he needed to!) or how to dance in them. Many of the tango teachers even in BA teach fancy stuff and no social dance skills.. at least to tourists.

Then he got some instruction from the older milongueros (met Tete' and some others) did alot of observing, and also applied floorcraft he knew from ballroom and had more success on subsequent trips. It was during the time period that Daniel Trenner was beginning to really explore the purely social tango techniques touring with Rebecca Shulman and he took from them too when he got back to the states.

It seems even in BA, you have to really search for instruction in traditional social dancing.
If dance floor rules were enforced at tango dances in the USA, the dancing would improve. Ballroom dancers know the rules, but for some reason, tango instruction rarely includes them. The studio has lots of open space during classes so learning to dance compactly on a crowded floor isn't the standard.

Those who make a living at teaching tango in Buenos Aires rarely set foot in a milonga. And if they do, it is to dance with their partner. They don't know how to use the cabeceo or improvise. They are teaching memorized patterns that don't produce good social dancers.

If one wants to become a professional dancer for stage, go to classes with teachers who began their careers on stage. That's what they know. They don't go to the milongas. They spend all their time teaching choreography.

If one wants to learn to become a good social dancer, study with someone who is dancing every day in the milongas. That's what they know.


Well-Known Member
Thanks, everyone. I did read the whole thread. I appreciate the advice.

A couple impressions (having come from the ballroom/studio world.)

1. Social dance is totally different, when you're looking for instruction.

And 2. There's no real easy way to find a good instructor, but going to a dance ans watching people dance sounds like my best bet, in the absence of objective input from somebody in the know.

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