Ask Arlene..About Lessons with Javier Rodriguez

I just wanted to know if you’ve or any of your regular readers have taken any lessons from Jaiver Rodriguez before and whether you would recommend a Londoner travel up to Brum?

Thanks,

Yabotil

Dear Yabotil,

I haven’t taken lessons outside of London and I have never heard of this person.

If anyone can help, please comment here.

Thanks.


Advertisements

37 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tangocommuter
    Jun 16, 2009 @ 15:48:53

    Javier Rodriguez? Geraldine’s ex-partner? I’ve never had classes with him but there’s a lot of video of dance and class demonstrations on YouTube.

  2. Caroline
    Jun 16, 2009 @ 18:58:08

    If it’s the Javier Rodriguez, Geraldine’s ex-partner you are talking about, you should check the NYC Tango Pilgrim’s blog: he took private lessons with Javier Rodriguez and Andrea Misse in BA.

    http://tangopilgrim.blogspot.com/

  3. jantango
    Jun 16, 2009 @ 20:04:46

    If you are interested in learning choreography for exhibition, then by all means, study with him. When he partnered Geraldine from a very young age, they practiced eight hours a day. However, if you want to improve as a social dancer, learn to dance compactly in crowded milongas, and improvise in the moment, find someone who dances regularly in the milongas rather than in classes and exhibitions. If you want to learn Chinese, you don’t study with an Italian.

  4. TP
    Jun 16, 2009 @ 22:34:34

    If one has no first hand experience, one shouldn’t make hasty comment. I am a social dancer and I have been dancing in crowded milongas in BsAs very well. Ask Ruben y Cherie, Pedro Sanchez. At Los Consagrados, I got dances from the very good milongueras. Ask them, if they still remember one Asian guy from New York.

    Javier is respected by the old milongueros. Just looked at his performance at Sunderland, they stand up and applauded him after the performance.

    He teaches how to dance for the woman, he stresses walk and embrace in his workshop and in my private lessons with him. He explains tango in a way that few people could so simply yet effectively do.

    It is fortunate for the Europeans that he tours around Europe frequently. Catch his workshop, he and Andrea are doing one in Birmingham in the beginning of October. If you like traditional tango that emphasize on connection, feeling and walk, Javier will open your eyes. Just ask around… don’t just take my words or my experience for it.

    And he IS Argentine… not Italian nor Chinese.

    Just because one lives in BsAs, doesn’t mean that one is any authority in Tango.

  5. El Grump
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 00:08:07

    Jantango speaks the truth.

  6. habanera
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 11:50:28

    Just watch:

    with Puppi Castello’s comment at the beginning of the video and a concrete example of Javier dancing in a milonga setting 😉

  7. Arlene
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 12:52:12

    @ Habanera
    You mean in a practically empty milonga setting. They would never be able to dance like that if it was really busy.

  8. habanera
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 14:22:37

    They seem to dance pretty small to me…

  9. Arlene
    Jun 17, 2009 @ 17:24:52

    @ Habanera
    In the 2nd video, yes, the steps are smaller and the crowd is bigger.
    The issue here is not how good these dancers are. They are very good.
    The issue is how well they teach.
    Not all good/excellent dancers are competant teachers.

  10. yyquest
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 03:29:15

    Regarding the “space” issue in the two YouTube clips, well, since 1st video was from a documentary film (so the movements needed to be a little more showy) and the 2nd video was of someone trying to record a good dancer in a milonga, it’s very natural the filming was done when the floor was relatively empty, so it should not be used to judge someone’s ability/inability to dance in a crowded floor. However, what seems significant to me is the how compact and calm the dynamic movements were and carried out without breaking the embrace.

    Since 2006 I have had opportunities to take classes (group and private) with Javier Rodriguez annually when he comes to our region and, in my opinion, his technical teachings and philosophies are very much grounded in the milonguero traditions. To add to what TP has already commented, if you want to learn about developing a strong connection with your partner, to dance without breaking the embrace and to express the subtleties in traditional tango music, then by all means take his classes. For fancy steps and sequences, you are likely to be disappointed.

    ps. Perhaps circa 2003 (when I first met him) Javier and Geraldine were often teaching “choreography for exhibition”? As far as I know, this not true in general of his classes since 2006.

  11. Sophie
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 13:54:09

    I’m sorry Jan but if one couple teaches for the crowded milonga it is Javier and Andrea. I have no idea where you get the idea that they are show dancers who can’t do or teach pure salon, but these two have been known to keep their students to just walking for days on end until the walk is smooth, musical and elegant. Hardly kick throw jump lift boleo gancho volcada now, is it? They are both very smooth, very elegant dancers who dance “villa urquiza” style and indeed Club Sunderland is their home and they are both children of that barrio and proud flag bearers of the elegant, undestated tango that is danced there.

    Yabotil, i cannot recommend enough you do at the very least the “walk” workshop with Javier and Andrea. They will show you the absolute soul of tango: la caminata, the walk. This is in no way acrobtics, it’s pure stand up right and hold your partner close tango. Both are excellent teachers and unbelievably precise, elegant and musical dancers. Not to be missed.

    Arlene – I’m very surprised you didn’t hear of Javier when he visited London several times in 2006 at the beginning of his partnership with Andrea. They have never performed in the usual circuses but went to the milongas if my memory serves me right. To you as well, I strongly recommend a trip up to Birmingham if only to see them dance at the milonga 🙂

  12. Arlene
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 17:26:43

    @ Sophie,

    To be frank, I do not keep tabs on visiting teachers since I pretty much stopped doing workshops having been disappointed in the teaching or the quality of the leaders in the group. And don’t get me started on the various styles.

    We get sooooo many people visiting here that I have lost interest. My primary interest is in the music and dancing. Besides, I am not very good at remembering names. In 2006 I was still out dancing 5 nights a week and doing classes before the milongas. If I came across them, well, I can’t remember. Obviously not that important to me.

    I don’t feel I need to know who all of these people are. I hate to say it, but unless I am going out of the country or have to be near a certain town, I don’t really travel for Tango. I have other things going on in my life and to just go to Birmingham to see someone dance well, as I can already see in the vid clips, is not really my thing. I will wait until they come to London. 🙂

  13. David Bailey
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 18:23:38

    @Sophie: “kick throw jump lift boleo gancho volcada” – cor, I want to try that one out now… 🙂

    @Arlene: “To be frank, I do not keep tabs on visiting teachers since I pretty much stopped doing workshops having been disappointed in the teaching or the quality of the leaders in the group. ”
    Yeah, I’ve given up on visitors, I simply don’t get much out of the classes. Find a regular, local teacher, who you trust, that’s my approach now.

    Also:
    “I don’t feel I need to know who all of these people are. ”
    – me too. I mean, isn’t there enough hero-worship already in the tango scene? Life’s too short.

  14. elizabeth
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 21:08:59

    If Javier were in our area I would be first in line to take his class. Don’t miss it. He may not travel and teach forever and why blow the chance? In any case it will not hurt your dance and then too, you can ignore all the so called experts of the Buenos Aires milongas and make up your own mind!

  15. Tina
    Jun 18, 2009 @ 22:03:41

    I have to politely disagree with Jantango on her assessment of Javier.

    I am a very purist milonguera, and Javier changed my life with just one lesson – after studying with him for an hour, my Buenos Aires milonga experience was 100 times better. I was the partner and apprentice of milonguero Pedro Sanchez for a good year, and even Pedro noticed an improved difference in my embrace.

    Javier has a great sense of humor and is very sweet. He’s very intuitive and really sensed my inhibitions about dancing tango, about the embrace. I was emotionally affected after our lesson but about a month later I had digested everything and was dancing my best. Thanks to him, I have been able to get a good reputation in the milongas of Buenos Aires for my embrace.

  16. Tina
    Jun 20, 2009 @ 07:26:08

    (I should clarify, in addition to my comment, that this in no way negates the unforgettable and irreplaceable time I have spent with Pedro and the milongueros. It’s just that Javier broke down some really important things for me in a very unique way that I could understand, and I owe him a lot of gratitude).

  17. jantango
    Jun 20, 2009 @ 19:57:13

    Yabotil,

    Take Dave Bailey’s advice and find a local teacher who will be around after the “names” leave the city. Even if you have a regular partner for a private lesson with Javier, it’s not going to make that much difference in your dancing. Your tango comes from you. It’s not about studying with the famous in the tango world.

    The video of Javier and Geraldine dancing in Porteno y Bailarin demonstrates how regular partners on a spacious milonga floor can do their usual thing with kicks and voleos. I’d like to see Javier dance with a stranger on the crowded floor of Lo de Celia and see how he improvises. That’s the true test. Milongueros have earned their reputations after fifty-some years dancing well in small spaces with any woman.

  18. TP
    Jun 21, 2009 @ 09:34:19

    I had a video of Javier dancing in a crowded floor at Sunderland with a young girl. I videoed it because it showed me how he took care the woman (or girl) in the dance, smooth, nothing complicated. I was going to put it up, but decided to respect him and not to do so. He doesn’t need anyone to show who he is, how he dance on the crowded floor. He is Javier Rodriguez.

    If one is in Buenos Aires, one goes to milongas and one will see them dancing regularly in the milongas. I danced behind them at Porteno y Bailarin before I met them. They were just another couple on the floor. And who are you to ask others to show you and prove to you?

    On another note, tango means different things to different people. One man’s truth is another man’s invention. No one in particular is an authority of it. And tango is living on and blossoming around the world, not because there is one way to dance. I haven’t met any one (including the “old milongueros”) whom told me this is tango, dance this way. All of them told me: ” I will show you the way I dance.” And you know what, the old milongueros are proud of their individual ways of dancing tango and respect those whom dance well, regardless of their ages.

    And who is the judge if one teacher is good or not, especially one has no learning experience at all. One can always talk the talk, but can one show the rest of the world how one walks?

    A lot of people stress in dancing small. But have you noticed that in the crowded milonga, a lot of old milongueros wait till the early AM when the floor was cleared before they step in the floor. It is not about dancing small or big. It is about how one communicates with the other. If one is good enough, just in the embrace one can show all the feeling and music without even taking a step.

    Even the great talent in the world needs guidance; every genius has his own mentor(s). A good teacher can show you the way and open your eyes, put you on the right path that you want to go. How far you want to go in is then entirely up to you.

  19. El Chupacabra
    Jun 21, 2009 @ 23:21:13

    Great comment TP.

    A great art teacher will help you find your own style and develop it. A bad teacher will import his or her own style onto you. The same with tango, and many other art forms.

  20. Sophie
    Jun 22, 2009 @ 10:46:49

    One-off workshop with visiting teachers vs long-standing tuition from a local one?

    I don’t think the two are opposites. They are complementary. A one-off visit might present things in a new light, explain something in a different way that makes more sense to me. I may see variations of something I know.

    Sometimes (not always), a visiting teacher leaves me with a gem, something that nourrishes my dancing and takes it to a new place.

    Or sometimes I might not get anything, but at least I tried to.

    So when I hear of visiting teachers, I look at their dancing on You Tube, have a think if it inspires me or makes me happy, ask around what they taught in previous classes, and jump in or not. I don’t take visiting teachers as the next guru who will overturn my dancing, but as teachers passing on their knowledge (however great or small it may be).

    And don’t forget that we come up with different attitudes in regards to “regular” and “one-off” teachers. We tend to not listent to all our regular teacher says after a while, or we’re too busy sorting one thing to get the next thing in. With a visiting teacher, without this whole history of “what I should be minding”, I think I apply it all more or less consciously, and come with a fresh and open mind that’s likely to make me more susceptible to assimilate the tuition.

    Finally in tango, sometimes a person’s dancing, not their speech, is the teaching element: I learn from watching up close.

    And I absolutely agree with TP’s comment: “I will show you how I dance”. Look, ponder, and take away what you want. It’s your tango.

  21. Mr Milonga
    Jun 23, 2009 @ 11:10:48

    I’ve read through all the comments and I’m not sure where all this is going.

    Javier Rodriguez is one of the most respected tango dancers in the world. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard of him or if you don’t care who’s who in the world of tango, he is one of the good ones.

    There is no way to assess how good a teacher is just by watching him or her dance. Good teaching is about communication and total understanding of the subject being taught. I could name a few teachers working in London who are able dancers but are frankly stealing money off their students because in no way are they teachers and they should be named an shamed.

    The one thing going to a particular teacher will do is help you speak in their language. E.g if you go to teachers who typically dance open-embrace, that’s what they’ll teach. Same as going to classes where the teacher dances milonguero or close embrace.

    Remember along with bad teachers there are bad students. Milongas in London are full of bad impatient students who are deluded enough to think that replacing classes by going to milongas will accelerate their progression. How wrong and deluded they are. The real truth is that the two go hand-in-hand.

    Teachers can only show you how something is done and if they’re any good the correct technique of how to do it.

    The other thing teachers bring to the table is their own unique approach or perspective to the dance. Good pupils will adapt what they like and reject what they don’t.

    Without good fundamentals it all means nothing, because you’ll never be able to express yourself fully.

    If you don’t want to put the work in then you’re not going to improve.

  22. Tango totty
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 13:40:21

    I agree with both Sophie and Mr Milonga. Surely the road to becoming a good tango dancer is a mix of all the elements.

    To me it is about attending good technique classes where the technique for the walk and the ochos are very clearly broken down and practised consistently with a teacher correcting poor technique on an individual basis. It is also about regularly practising this technique on your own like practising scales on a musical instrument so it becomes an integral part of your dance. It is about being able to dance regularly with good dancers. But surely your dance cannot be harmed by maybe once in a while attending a class by one of the great tango names, you can always learn by just watching great technique. The problem in London is that this is all so hit and miss – there is no proper consistency of good teaching or good dancers. This is where the main problem lies. Maybe the fastest route (for a woman) is to go to Buenos Aires and find yourself a milongero!!!!

  23. Tango Up North
    Jul 05, 2009 @ 20:15:23

    With regard to Mr Milonga’s view of London teachers that should be named and shamed, could he give us a few. I’m based in the north of England and maybe come to London twice a year for a milonga/festival and whilst here do look at who’s available on a certain day. Not being part of the London ‘scene’ it would be nice to get an idea who is worth attending and who is not.

  24. Sophie
    Oct 05, 2009 @ 16:21:13

    I thought I’d give some feedback about how the workshops went.

    Well, I was very, very impressed. The result was simply on the floor: participants moving to the music, beautifully, elegantly, in a stable and controlled manner, not falling out of balance or rythm, respecting the line of dance, and being engrossed and enoying the dance.

    The tuition included many comments for passing on. Javier and Andrea said: “this is not something for you to keep, teach it, pass it on, spread it”.

    Focus on walking, corrections to the posture, to the lead, there were very few steps but so much tips and so many recommendatins about little or great things about dancing, fromthe couple to navigation to how to dance the music…

    With their kind, soft, humourous yet straight-on approach, Javier and Andrea get across to their students every time. There’s no room for self-doubt in such a supportive environment. They place the bar exactly where they know participants can reach, and in a firm but kind way, get them there. Compared to other teachers, they spend very little time individually, but when they address the room they pick out precisely what several people struggle with

    I’ve been studying under Andrea for a while now, and it’s fascinating for me to see how her dancing’sconstantly moving on, and how her teaching is evolving. Javier and her constantly improve, develop their dance, and constantly review what they teach and how they teach it. Their pedagogical value is genuine, and that’s actually pretty rare amongst tango teachers.

  25. Tango Up North
    Oct 09, 2009 @ 19:21:20

    I have to agree with Sophie, the 6 classes were excellently taught but most of all with a focus not on any set of steps but of techniques and their appropriateness.

    And as for the walking class, I’d been looking for something as simple yet perfectly described for 5 years. When someone says in future, walk naturally – I know what it means!

  26. Ralph
    Oct 16, 2009 @ 12:01:12

    Anyone who thinks Javier and Andrea are not good milongeros or teachers have major issues…I have had the pleasure of attending 3 diferent festivals so far (Turkey, Korea with Stella Misse and Taiwan) and he is without a doubt the best dancer and teacher in the world. And the ladies he dances with are amazing and become goddesses of tango. He teaches the theory and essence of how to be a milongero and focuses on embrace, posture, walk and musicality the most…I have seen him dance in many milongas (especially the ones in Korea and Taiwan) where it is so busy you can not move 10 meters in a tanda. He dances as amazingly in the milongas. Also, at one stage in Taiwan he had to get all the students around him and talk about how he is very dissapointed no one follows the eticate in the milongas and they should be more careful protecting the women and respecting other dancers…
    He is the god of tango and anyone who can nto appreciate him has major major issues.

  27. ChrisJJ
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 00:35:23

    > Anyone who thinks Javier and Andrea are not
    > good milongeros or teachers have major issues…

    Anyone who has a video of them actually dancing social tango… would be most welcome to share it.

    > he is without a doubt the best dancer and
    > teacher in the world.

    You’ve checked them all?? 🙂

  28. ChrisJJ
    Oct 29, 2009 @ 00:50:38

    > I’ve never had classes with him but there’s a lot
    > of video of dance and class demonstrations on YouTube.

    I can find no videos of class demos. Please post a link!

  29. TP
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 18:50:19

    @ChrisJJ,

    Here are the class demos on youtube:
    Hongkong May 2009

    Tangocamp June 2009

    If you search Javier Rodriguez tango on youtube, you will find a few more class demos partnering with Geraldine Rojas and Andrea Misse. You just have to spend your own time to find it.

    In terms of if he is the best at all, I think for us, the dancers in learning, the teacher who has shown us the way, help us to improve our dances and opened our eyes is our best teacher. Without a doubt Javier Rodriguez is my best teacher, and I have checked most of the who’s who in the tango world these days. 🙂

  30. ChrisJJ
    Oct 30, 2009 @ 20:01:57

    Thanks. Viewers please note: ” This is a demonstration so the actions are exaggerated and defined for teaching purposes.”

    > the teacher who has shown us the way, help us to improve
    > our dances and opened our eyes is our best teacher.

    “The”?? I’m sad for anyone whose dancing life includes only one such person, rather than the many who dance with us for love, not money.

  31. Andreas
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 19:48:23

    @Chris: There is (or was?) a video on youtube of a BsAs milonga, , can’t find it though, and there were Javier and Geraldine dancing socially, and very sensibly, too. I myself saw him dance socially with Andrea at a milonga in Luxembourg, and yes, he can.

  32. Andreas
    Nov 01, 2009 @ 19:52:01

    Found it:

  33. ChrisJJ
    Nov 03, 2009 @ 15:11:49

    Sensible indeed 🙂 Thanks.

  34. Trackback: Lessons with Javier and Andrea « Yabotil’s Blog
  35. TP
    Feb 16, 2010 @ 22:27:59

    The latest El Tangauta has an interview with Andrea and Javier. The digital edition can be read at http://www.eltangauta.com, which requires a simple registration, if you are interested in.

  36. ChrisJJ
    Feb 17, 2010 @ 12:33:19

    > an interview with Andrea and Javier. The
    > digital edition can be read at http://www.eltangauta.com,
    > which requires a simple registration,

    Or here which requires no registration:

    http://www.eltangauta.com/ed%5Fdigital/images/ElTangauta184.pdf

  37. ChrisJJ
    Feb 17, 2010 @ 12:51:40

    > Milongas in London are full of bad impatient
    > students who are deluded enough to think that
    > replacing classes by going to milongas will
    > accelerate their progression.

    Well, I can see where they might have got that idea e.g. from the example of those great dancers in BsAs who never took classes but instead spent their time in the milongas.

    Of course those bad students typically don’t have quite the same choice, having been handicapped from day #1 by the kind of bulk teaching of beginners that in London is so popular – particularly with instructors.

%d bloggers like this: