Today, Tango is a complex dance that requires a multifocal approach. 

I like to think there are different matters that need to be attended simultaneously, since the first day of learning. Different layers of knowledge, that every integral process of learning tango needs. Of course, some of them are more important at the beginning, and some others need a more advanced level to be attended. But they are all part of a complex learning process, they are all complementary and need to be taught in parallel. Is not possible to consider one at the time, as an a linear and dogmatic teaching. We are talking about art, not science.

 

LAYERS OF KNOWLEDGE IN TANGO TEACHING:

A) TECHNIQUES / BODY AWARENESS

Technique is one of the most important parts in the foundations of the dancing. It means to learn how to use my own body properly when I dance. To be able to control the movements, to be able to choose the movements, what I do, how I do it. To be also conscious of how it looks, to have awareness and control of my own body. Also be aware of how I organize my body to dance, how to keep it in balance, how it feels, how it looks, how to move it.

B) CONNECTION / EMBRACE

This is the team work with the partner: to develop a subtle and tuned communication with the other. To develop the capacity to act and react with the other, to respond. To be clear in a leading, to be responsive in a following,  to be confortable inside the embrace, to feel one with the other, to be aware of the other person’s body and to be aware of how my movements affect the other.

C) MUSICALTY / EXPRESSIVITY

Musicality is not just about stepping-on-the-beat. Is about expressing the music with the whole body. Learning to be honest with what we feel when the music is playing, learning to express the sounds and also the silences. Learning to understand the different layers of music and try the different possibilities, to choose different instruments. To learn the musical structures, and deliberately break them to create a personal expression. 

D) CHOREOGRAPHIC ELEMENTS / IMPROVISATION

This is: the steps, the figures, the sequences. All the choreographic elements in tango are just combinations and variations of a few basic elements. Mainly 5:  changes of weight, simple steps, rotations, management of the axis, and management of the free leg. We need to control and understand this elements separately, so then we can start combining them and improvise. Learning tango is like learning a language: we need to learn the code of communication and the vocabulary, we need to learn to listen and respond, so then we can have a conversation. The teaching of tango based just in the teaching of figures, will never give us the tools to improvise and connect with the partner. Learning just the figures, like pre-designed sequences, is like learning a language by just learning set phrases: we will never be able of communicating.

 E) VALUES / LANGUAGE 

Some things in tango change through the years. But some others remain. The essence of tango remains, and it makes tango being tango: a unique, special language, different to all other dances. But what is this essence that remains? There are different ways of understanding. I understand tango as a dance of subtile and profound connection, not about virtuosity or speed, but honest feeling and quietness. Coexistence in the dance floor, respect on the other person, but sometimes, at the same time, dark and dirty expression of our most primitive instincts. I consider essential as teachers to invite the student to, in parallel to their learning process, go into this exploration of values and feelings.

F) STYLE / INVESTIGATION

In a more advanced level, when the student has control of all this elements, is importante to encourage him/her to investigate his/her own way of dancing, of stepping, of expressing the music. When we talk about style, many things are relative, even esthetic aspects. With consciousness, we can make our own esthetic decisions. Is my job as a teacher to guide them through this process also. To teach them not to copy models, not to follow stereotypes, but to be authentic, to be honest, to create something new, to develop his/her own dancing.

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