Tango Argentino > Do I have a bad teacher? Should I quit?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by M. Bingley, May 10, 2013.


Should I quit?

  1. Yes

  2. No

  1. bordertangoman

    bordertangoman Well-Known Member

    I was going to say something similar. i suspect there may be a bit of Prima Dona or its male equivalent going on here, and maybe that's a spin off from ballet schools where you have to be tough physically and emotionally to become good*

    footnote: ballet cf football training
    So what’s the difference between a footballer and a ballet dancer? Top footballers train for two to three hours a day and might do an hour’s work in the gym after that. Their counterparts in ballet kick off with an hour’s Pilates, followed by a 90-minute warm-up and up to six hours’ rehearsal. And perhaps a two-hour performance in the evening. One-nil to the ballet boys.”​
  2. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    What's all this about pressurizing your teacher to drink? What if he has an alcohol problem or needs to drive or operate machinery or breast feed?
    I think the teacher's not the only one who needs to think long and hard bout their behavior.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  3. pascal

    pascal Active Member

    Hey your pic is actually the lower part of a dancer. I thought it was the eyes of a black cat.

    My former teacher was like that too. Besides his regular classes he would give introductory classes of any dance (Charleston, disco, whatever) and then say ok pupils, if you like this dance then go find a dedicated teacher.
  4. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

  5. sixela

    sixela Well-Known Member

  6. M. Bingley

    M. Bingley New Member

    I'm done with this topic in terms of decision-making, but when I see this sort of naïveté I feel I need to point out something really obvious: taking abuse doesn't mean you'll get good. I suspect people respond to this way because they miss the clues I pick up, and they do so because they have been very lucky in their lives. They have not seen first-hand abusive teachers breaking up families, destroying lives, maiming limbs, and ending careers. Physical and mental toughness, no matter in what prodigious quantity, doesn't survive that except by luck (though toughness is helpful in recovery). I have seen such hell, and that's why the moral rectitude of the instructor is important in my book.

    If you have no idea what I'm talking about, just understand this: you've had a very lucky, vanilla life, and it is something you should treasure. But that means you probably also have an untapped capacity for compassion, so try to make something of that potential.

    Just my public service announcement for today.
  7. LKSO

    LKSO Active Member

    What is the instructor's dance background?

    I used to take classes with a classically trained ballet dancer who, at the end of his performing career, learned tango from a bunch of famous names, and became a performer and then a teacher. In class, he was warm and friendly and often communicated in a metaphorical fashion. But, he would get noticeably upset after the first few weeks when students stopped coming. He would yell and sometimes take it out on individuals if they didn't do what he asked. He's made a number of students cry and quit. He didn't like it when students practiced on their own or did steps that he didn't teach. In his mind, he was like a God of tango and thinks he knows almost everything. Except he doesn't know how to teach.

    He thought that everyone who took his classes did so to learn how to dance tango. (Not to exercises, lose weight, meet new people, find a bf/gf, etc.) And being a classically trained ballet dancer, he started the class off with exercises that would be "good for you". These exercises didn't work for anyone because you don't use them in the dance. As a result, he wasted a lot of time in class doing non-tango things. Who wants to take a class just to do exercises?

    But he does have repeat students who buys what he sells: boleos and embellishments to the women and rigid step sequences to the men. I recently dropped by his class one night and he was still selling the same thing. The same students who can't dance at a milonga continue to take classes from him.

    He's a bad teacher for sure. But do these repeat students know that? I'm glad that I quit, but I worry more about the new students who take his classes and start to think that tango is what he teaches and not what it actually is.
  8. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    and that, alas, is quite typical in tango.
  9. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    We are not talking about kids and teenagers in school, we are taking grown ups, very few of which have been training to become a professional tango dancer. They are free to leave the class at any time without any grave consequence (and apparently, lots of them do). I have seen abusive people among tango professionals, but the damage they had done was to their partners/significant others, not to their students. Most of the time others did not even know.
    I may deduct from the story, that the individual in question is a lousy pedagogue, and adopts questionable marketing practices. But from that to being a dangerous, abusive psychopath ruining people's lives there is a bit of a stretch.
    bordertangoman likes this.
  10. Bailamosdance

    Bailamosdance Well-Known Member

    Well, personally, I think anyone who is into Argentine Tango risks becoming a psychopath. But then again, I love sarcasm... and Lilly, I think that the comment was made more for humor than fact lol...
    bordertangoman likes this.
  11. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I can tell you this is the truth....
  12. M. Bingley

    M. Bingley New Member

    Ballroom, like most of us. No, he wasn't an instructor in ballroom dancing, but just an enthusiast. At this point, I really don't think this is a case of "normative behavior acquired from previous training." But it's interesting to hear your story.
  13. M. Bingley

    M. Bingley New Member

    I'm talking more generally about the importance of having a teacher who behaves in a humane manner, and I'm using extreme examples to illustrate the impact that a very abusive teacher can have. Less abusive teachers can still have an effect, but it tends to be psychological.

    As for grown adults, I have seen schools where unhappy adults couldn't quit, because they fear they'd lose their friends. They knew the teacher was bad, cultish, fraudulent in some way, but speaking the truth meant alienating people who had a stake in keeping that environment going. This would be a hard decision to make for people who made that school the center of their social lives.

    For another example: instructor sleeps with student's wife, and consequently student quits and divorces wife.

    Having seen some of this sort of stuff first hand, and some of this stuff second hand from people who lived through it, I firmly believe that we have to choose our teachers carefully. I don't accept BS, and I'll generally walk out the door, because it's not worth it. I think people who haven't seen anything this bad have the tendency to make it about the victim: you just have to be tough mentally and physically. That gets you through in mild cases, but that doesn't change who has the responsibility for proper behavior.

    None of this is about my former instructor, who seems like a kitten by comparison.
  14. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Hi M. Bingley, I always make a big difference between instructor and teacher. I would agree that we have to choose our instructors carefully. But concerning a teacher the situation would be totally different: a teachers chooses his student, not the other way round. A teacher is interested in your development, a bit like a guru. Perhaps you have to seek and wait for years. The instructor-student relation works on a basis of an exchange deal, knowledge for money, but not the teacher-student relation.
    Lilly_of_the_valley likes this.
  15. Lilly_of_the_valley

    Lilly_of_the_valley Well-Known Member

    I certainly agree that an a-hole personality as a dance community leader, is, on so many levels, a very unfortunate thing. I do not support the idea that one has to "get tough and sustain abuse". I am rather trying to say that, as much as a teacher needs to have ethics, you ( a general you) are equally responsible for your own behavior. It takes two to tango. It is your choice to have sex with the dance teacher and risk your marriage, to stay silently in the situation that is bad for you, to try to change it or leave, and you, as a grown up, are responsible for your own choices.
    bordertangoman likes this.
  16. M. Bingley

    M. Bingley New Member

    I agree with you, Lilly.
    bordertangoman likes this.
  17. Mr 4 styles

    Mr 4 styles Well-Known Member

    or a sociopath!!!
  18. rain_dog

    rain_dog Active Member

    Nah, competitive ballroom is far more likely to produce psychos. Consider all the fakery (fake smiles, fake tans, fake hair, fake suits, fake music) plus the required narcissism (Look at ME! Look at ME! Look at ME! I'MMM DAAAANCINGGGG!!!!), all under that intense competitive pressure. Throw in the repetitive brain injuries from all those crazy head snaps, and it's enough to cause anyone to break from reality.
  19. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    It's a fair point.
  20. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Face facts. Artsy people can be a bit "eccentric", shall we say.

    (OK, weird, obsessive, fanatic, etc.)

    Mr 4 styles likes this.

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