Ask Arlene…How to know when to leave a Tango teacher?

This was one of the search engine terms used that found my blog.  Interesting!

The searcher has a good point.  How do you know when the time is right to leave a Tango teacher?  I suppose it depends on context.

If you have been happy with your teacher but no longer feel that you can learn any more from them, then the time is right to move on.  This isn’t negative as people do have their limits as to what they are capable of teaching, which is why very good teachers continue to have instruction themselves.

Every person has their own way of learning and is responsible for that.  If you are taking a class and are not getting what you want out of it no matter how hard you try, then it is time to move on and try another teacher.

When I first started to learn Tango, I went with the first person who taught it near where I lived.  I didn’t have any references or people to discuss this with.  My teacher was very passionate, but also quite temperamental.  I took on board everything he taught me.  I took a workshop and went to his classes.  The passion was passed on to me and I broadened my horizons.  I took a class elsewhere.  I found out I couldn’t dance with these new people.  Something was wrong.  Was it me or them?  I went back and forth between the two teachers.  I realised that I wanted to dance more like the new teacher.  I also went to a milonga in town and several people recommended I should stay with the second teacher.  I figure if enough people give the same recommendation, then I should pay attention and at least give it a try.  I never went back to my first teacher after that.  In hindsight, I realise that he doesn’t teach the way that I want to dance.

I went to many classes taught by many different people.  I have always learned something even if it wasn’t the style that I prefer.   I cut down on going to classes when I was out dancing at the milongas about 5 times a week.  I was never able to make the class before a milonga unless it was on the weekend.  The nights I wasn’t dancing, I was too tired to take a class.  Regular classes went by the wayside and I would occasionally take a  private lesson.  Things change.  Sometimes life takes over.

If your classes (private or group) are no longer satisfying your needs, then it is time to make a change.  I think it is really as easy as that.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. montreal tanguera
    Mar 02, 2010 @ 22:30:51

    Thanks for taking on this touchy subject.
    Some people worry about changing hairdressers. Changing instructors can feel at least as dicey as that. No one (at least no one I know) wants to hurt anyone’s feelings or cast negative aspersions on anyone’s abilities. As your interests and ability evolve, your needs change, c’est tout!

  2. yabotil
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 10:57:18

    Good post Arlene!

    I changed instructors after going to London Milongas and realising what I was taught didn’t work with most of the other dancers from other schools.

    And after a while, do you really need to do regular classes with a teacher? I find the occasional private class gives me the most value.

    When you were a baby and your parents teach you to walk, did they teach you in a way that you needed their help regularly? No, they taught you in a way that you could walk independently and without their assistance.

    Learning tango is the same, your teacher should be giving you the tools and skills to go off on your own. If you keep coming back for more, something is wrong.

  3. David Bailey
    Mar 04, 2010 @ 17:13:06

    Another reason to leave, of course, is if you yourself decide to change your style, or to learn a new style.

    If you want to learn lots of weird nuevo movements, for example, you wouldn’t go to (say) Alex and Stefano.

  4. juan
    Mar 20, 2010 @ 11:25:43

    I am a Spanish tango dancer and it would be a great gratefull time to dance with you when I will go to London, if it is possible. Could you tell me at what milonga you usually go to dance.

    Thank you Arlene.


  5. joli
    Mar 22, 2010 @ 08:25:19

    And then eventually, you just end up learning more on the dance floor.

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