Tips for teaching your first tango class

Mind the gap

I believe that many dancers will return from the Distance with a renewed care for our community and a desire to rebuild it with great love. I believe many people will be inspired as never before to share the gift of tango, feeling now perhaps more than ever before the preciousness of gathering, and embracing. Indeed my student Josh is already preparing a class for his community, a clean and sober gym. We had a conversation about how to think about teaching, and this post contains my notes:

The Hard Sell

Word Art

Unfortunately tango’s backward gender politics did not turn out to be its only anti-social gesture. As a student and then a professional, I learned that tango is a profoundly anti-ethical industry.

The Lexicon and the art of Distillation

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Through years of study and practice I have developed the TangoForge technique. Like many teachers, I offer students “systems” for learning. Since many teachers have developed some kind of personal system for teaching tango, students are rightfully confused. It is possible to create many different systems for describing the same thing. Each of these systems […]

Bankers

secret banker

These days, slick dancers prove their purported “talent” by dancing a choreography which insults their ardent students who are trying to do a “social”/improvised dance. Then they offer, perhaps in innocence, a fraudulent service, and then blame the students or tell them “it takes 10 years to learn to dance” or “you can’t really dance tango unless you understand the Lunfardo lyrics of the music.” It only takes 10 years when your teacher is incompetent.

Abracadabra

Argentine Tango Magic

I love taking tango classes! I have an excellent memory for certain things (not numbers), and I find long sequences especially pleasurable to memorize. It’s funny when my male partners are annoyed by this. The sequences themselves are often delightful enough to enjoy repeating 100 times or even more. It’s fun to see how quickly and with […]

Tango as psychotherapy

Argentine Tango as Psychological Therapy

I am well aware that a lot of what goes on in tango class is psychological development. I’m talking about biomechanics but the real challenge for the students is believing in themselves. Believing they can move their bodies fearlessly, believing they can balance, believing they can sense another person well, believing they’re sexy, believing they […]

Something added in translation: Lead with the chest

chest

You have surely noticed that I am obsessively annoyed by the incessant exhortation to “lead with the chest”.  I think it’s inaccurate, unhelpful, and leads to unstable behaviour. I’m fascinated by and loose with words.  I temper this with deep investigations with multilingual friends like ZM. What if this cliché is the detritus of a […]

Tango class

IMAG

Tangotourist in Berlin, Summer 2014 I am sitting in a Berlin tango class, sitting because there are no extra revels. When one came in I excused myself from the man I had been placed with. She accepted my invitation but he then whined that it “wasn’t fair ” for me to get to mark her. […]

Professionalism and commercialism in tango

commercialism in Argentine Tango

Some observations… Tango is an international industry, with annual revenue of $400 million and growing. It’s a service industry with no certifications, no educational system, no required training, no industry standards. Functionally, the qualifications are conveying an aura of “authenticity” and having somehow acquired a reputation. In most of the world outside of Argentina, tango communities […]

Get the whole story

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I want to learn to lead, but I think I need to focus on following first. TangoForge encourages dancers to learn both leading and following. There are several reasons for this. It’s nice to have compassion for the challenges of the other role. If a teacher is working directly with you and wants to show […]

I am not a teacup

Not a teacup

I feel so sorry for the 40+ students who were beating themselves up for not inducing Nito’s grace into his sequence but having no information about how to move. The corrections from the couple were only focused on getting the sequence right.

How to determine whether you are receiving quality instruction

TangoForge Argentine Tango Workshop

There are lots of Argentine Tango instructors to choose from. There are lots of expensive workshops to attend. Everyone seems to rave about every teacher they’ve studied with and how fabulous the workshop was. Of course it’s fun to go to workshops just for the social part and the buzz. This post is about evaluating […]

Slippage and fracture in transmission

Trio A and Tango

On a talk by contemporary dancer Sara Wookey entitled “Dance is hard to see,” regarding Yvonne Rainer’s ‘Trio A’. Presented by Performance Space.  Trio A (1966) is a historically important, “paradigm shifting” dance. It was one of the first expressions of minimalism in dance, influenced by Rainer’s involvement with a multidisciplinary arts community in NYC […]

How to improve your tango and make the most of your expenditures

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Don’t just practice, practice all the time Whenever you are not sitting in a chair or lying in bed, you can be practicing tango. Take every step with awareness of moving correctly onto the new base. Whenever you are waiting for the bus or train, or standing in line, work on your balance. If you […]

DNI is a controversial school

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DNI appealed to me for three reasons. Of course the most important factor in choosing a teacher is that you like how they dance. I thought Pablo Villarraza and Dana Frìgoli were the most fluid, gorgeous dancers. Second, they talked about technique with more clarity and depth than any other teachers. And third, they gave […]