Taking Classes – Back to Basics

Most of you know that I am not a great fan of taking classes.  Although I am not a big fan of them, it doesn’t mean that I am down on taking them.  Quite the contrary.  I have taken many classes offered by most of the London teachers.  In fact, if you have been following my Tango story, you will know that when I first started Tango, my obsession knew no boundaries and I went everywhere to learn and dance Tango.

Because of a lot of conflicting advice and various teaching methods and styles,  I ultimately gave up going to regular classes.  The milongas became my classes and my leaders became my teachers.  As with the classes that I had taken, some were good and some not so great, but I always learned something.

In the last couple of years I haven’t been dancing so much for various reasons.  I am ok with that.  However, I lost something with my dance that I hadn’t realised until this past weekend.  I came up to London to see my children and to do some dancing.  I wasn’t planning on taking a class, but I had some time on my hands and I managed to get to the class at Corrientes with Giraldo and Mina.

Taking a class with Giraldo and Mina is not a new thing for me.  I used to take regular classes with them before the milonga when they were at Tavistock Place.  It had been a long time since I had taken a class.  However, it was not that long ago, all being relative, that I was given advice by Giraldo.  Not only did he say what I should do, he also put his hands on me and showed me how to do it.  I can still remember how he did it.  I have had lessons with another teacher that does the same thing.  It is as if they have healing Tango hands.  They can position your body they way it should be and then the body remembers.

The class started with the walk.  How to walk, especially in heels, is difficult in slow motion.  I was tense.  Mina watched me and told me how to relax my feet.  Relax the feet!  Something that should have been so natural, without thinking, was something that I had to consciously focus on.  I put my attention to my feet and relaxed them.  Good, I could do that.  Then Giraldo put his hands on me again.  I wasn’t the only one he did that to. 🙂    God, how much I had forgotten.  After the walk, we worked on ochos.  Slow-motion ochos are difficult in heels.  I have done this exercise before.  It was coming back to me, but I was still out of practice.  That was just the beginning of the class.  The warm-up.  Then came the lesson.  I don’t remember what the sequence was, but I managed to follow, mas o menos.  I was better with my eyes closed.  There were more followers than leaders and I was fortunate to be led by the teachers, both of them.  I learned a lot.  There was nothing tricky, just the basics.  This was my kind of class.  If only all classes could be like this

During the milonga, I was conscious of my placement and relaxing my feet.  I really felt that my dance was better.  I was more relaxed.  I had a great time.  Thanks guys!

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.