Is my list of steps complete?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by gregolam, Feb 1, 2010.

  1. dchester

    dchester Moderator Staff Member

    Agreed. It needs to be explained in a way that makes sense for the intended audience.
  2. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yes you can.

    In fact, that's the first 3 weeks of my Tango Foundations teaching course. 6 hours in total.

    That's Week 4. :)

    An ocho cortado is not a step I'd teach beginners - it requires a lot of work to get it right. I'm trying to go over it with a couple of improver dancers at the moment - 2 years' experience - and they're still having difficulty with it.

    But why would beginners want to do an ocho cortado? It's quite possible to dance without it. Whereas it's not possible to dance without forward, back, side and (probably) pivot.

    I think at beginner level you should almost never teach patterns, and you should also keep the terminology at a minimum.

    No, it's always simple.

    It's only easy once you reach a certain level of proficiency.
  3. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    You're absolutely correct that many people are quite comfortable with learning to dance via step names and descriptions, but I wouldn't say it's unavoidable.

    Everybody probably learns their first language without knowing anything about parts of speech. Lots of people have learned dances "natively", including tango, and have no idea what the names of steps are.

    My concern as a teacher is that I don't leave students doing nothing but series' of steps (a left-brain process) without nudging them toward dancing expressively, impulsively, intuitively (a right-brain process). I see lots of dancers who appear to be stuck at the level of doing steps.
  4. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    I second that - this is how i learned tango too:
    The very first tango class i took taught:
    1) embrace 2) collect (i.e weight is on one foot) 2) weightshift 3) step forward
    (and then we were dancing based on that - the weightshift already allows playing with the music a bit, and because we were encouraged to start walking either with the right foot, or the left foot, and collect and weighshift either from the right foot or the left foot, and to do as many weightshifts as we wanted, there was actually a fair amount of leading and following going on)

    and after adding pivots and sidesteps all the new elements (ocho, giro..) were explained and taught as chains of steps and pivots

    Gssh
  5. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    Yes, that's pretty much exactly the way I approach it. I keep hammering home that message; ochos and giros are strings of step / pivot components, not "moves" in themselves.

    If you start by teaching moves, forever on the Dark Path you will be.
  6. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    Well, sometimes it was a bit embarassing to be an beginner/intermediate dancer and having no idea what the 8CB is. I actually learned the 8CB to be able to go to workshops - way too many started with "Ok, from the 3 we do this..." - and i had no idea what that meant.

    Gssh
  7. Gssh

    Gssh Active Member

    Well, my perspective would be that most "steps" are not actually "vocabulary", but whole sentences, or the more complex ones are like passages of poetry. And to have a conversation with somebody learning the few most common words is much more useful than "Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps" - it is a beautiful sentence, but in most circumstances it will sound contrived. And lots of beginners are like that - they have a few cool quotes, but there is no conversation because they keep repeating these few, wonderful lines of poetry regardless of circumstance. Now, advanced dancers can get away with that, just like some of my more literary friends can have whole converstations using only shakespeare quotes, but learning basic words+sentence structure gets you into a conversation easier and faster (with the drawback that i don't quite sound like shakespeare :), even if i try)

    Gssh
  8. New in NY

    New in NY New Member

    Maybe I was not explicit enough. By beginner, I do not mean the first few weeks of learning. I was referring to say the first year or so. And I used the ocho cortado as an example only because it is a figure being discussed in a recent thread. I am not recommending it as something to teach a beginner. Agreed that it is not necessary to introduce much terminology at beginner level, but if a beginner inquires about it as the OP did, why not aid his research? It would be hard to follow much of the discussion on this board without some basic knowledge of this terminology. No need to shut out those who are just beginning their lessons.
  9. JohnEm

    JohnEm Active Member

    Perhaps those are the workshops to avoid? ;)
  10. New in NY

    New in NY New Member

    Yes, I did not mean to imply otherwise.
  11. gregolam

    gregolam Member

    I actually very strongly agree with some of the teaching philosophies you guys are throwing around. In particular Daves and Andas sound much more like how I would have liked to have learned than how I actually did. Fortunately I caught on early enough that I think it will be possible for me to unlearn some of the patterns that I have been taught with so that I can try to focus more on 'I can step here or there, or pivot here or there to make my partner in turn do this or that'.

    I'm not describing it as well as you guys but it does make ALOT of sense to me why it would be better to learn this way, even if its more difficult in the beggining. There was a much older post where someone here said that they had seen experienced dancers who were very technically proficient yet who don't really communicate or dance to the music, and it is probably because they were one of those people that spent years learning nothing but sequences.

    Also I agree with the last thing you said. While you don't need to know the lingo to do the dance well, theres alot of verbal interaction in the tango community off the dance floor. To this end, knowing the moves is just as important as being able to discuss them, and for that you need to know at least a few terms and have a general understanding of how the dance operates.

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