Tango Argentino > Is tango easy?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by UKDancer, Nov 22, 2011.

  1. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I noticed some promotional blurb for someone's tango classes on Facebook today which made the rather bold claim that
    which prompted me to think about whether Malcolm Gladwell's '10,000 hours to master a skill' rings true, in general, and to tango, in particular.

    As it will take 27+ years, assuming sustained effort of an hour a day, every day, to achieve this mastery, I suppose we might hope for more than 'the basics' in such a time, but what are the basics, and having mastered them, is there very much left to learn? Is this an example of Pareto: 20% on the list of tango skills representing 80% of the dance - or is it the other way around?

    Reaching the point where social dancing is no longer embarrassing, and might even be pleasurable, probably doesn't take very long: but mastery - even of the basics? What does that take?
  2. toothlesstiger

    toothlesstiger Well-Known Member

    that 10,000 hours figure was for world class mastery. Also, in the context, he was referring to people that were typically practicing 3 hours per day.
    I think it is very glib to say mastering the basics is easy, however, if "good enough" for social dancing couldn't be achieved in much less than a year of pretty moderate practice, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone to dance with.
  3. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Is tango easy? No, it's not. I claim to much experience dancing and teaching in the world of social dance, and tango it the most difficult to learn. Once you've learned it, then it is easy, but the question was about learning.

    It's easy to assume we have varying ideas about what mastery is, but let me propose that it means one can use a skill with creativity, expression and nuance.

    I still believe tango could be learned much quicker than it is, but my real world experience tells me otherwise. First, students often have to go through years of trying to develop skills on quite challenging steps, ones it take professionals years to attain. Maybe, after that, they become willing to focus on the basics.

    If we assume that a student (leader) is willing to focus on basics and willing to practice deliberately, I believe a leader could become capable and comfortable on the milonga floor in six months. This means a class every week and deliberate practice every week.

    So, an hour and 15 minutes of classes for 25 weeks, plus 3 to 4 hours of practice every week = 106 to 131 hours. The caveat is, the focus must be on basics and the practice must be deliberate. I acknowledge that this rarely happens.

    To achieve mastery of the basics? Probably four times that.
  4. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    ... and what are the 'basics' of tango?
  5. quixotedlm

    quixotedlm New Member

    But it is simple, no?
  6. quixotedlm

    quixotedlm New Member

    Connected walking, controlled weight transfers, exploring degrees of freedom in movement, musicality.
  7. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    I find it is the other way round. Tango is easy in the beginning, whereas salsa was so damn hard, and became much easier in the end. I dance tango now for a number of years, and tango really gets harder the longer you learn it.
  8. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    Follower: step forward, back and sidewards, fwd and bk ochos, cruzada, molinetes L and R, all done to the musical beat and to the lead, all remaining in the connection.

    Leader: step fwd, bk and sidewards, lead a partner to do all followers movements, lead according to the music, follow according to partners movements, floorcraft.
  9. AndaBien

    AndaBien Well-Known Member

    I think we are discussing basics. Are you saying the basics become more difficult? How so?
  10. UKDancer

    UKDancer Well-Known Member

    I agree that these things are basics, and hope that you agree that they are not easy to master.

    A rudimentary knowledge of these things, and some practical skill in their execution, makes the beginning dancer, and the typical social dancer, having survived the 'shock' of the first couple of classes, can be dancing after a fashion in a few weeks/months.

    Is there anything else? I mean, is there anything important in tango that is not covered here? Most of us, considerations of style and taste apart, recognise mastery when we see it, and if the basics are the essence of the dance, mastery of basics is going to take a long, long time, and is out of reach for many of us.

    Is this why tango seems to get harder? We only realise the complexity implicit in seemingly simple things, once we start to acquire some real control and skill, and the further we get, the more we recognise our limitations - until, for the few, mastery is attained.
  11. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    It all depends. What do you consider the basics? What do you consider mastery? People spend lifetimes learning and "perfecting" the basics...and still feel they have much to learn. IMO, AT is incredibly simple...but that is not the same as easy.
  12. opendoor

    opendoor Well-Known Member

    Tango is simple, and much easier. I was always frustrated with salsa and all the time glad with tango. Simply stepping. Ok, my experience.
  13. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I am with Peaches here - this is mostly a question of semantics.

    Tango is not complicated, but it is difficult.

    It is like making apple pie -

    Mix 1 cups of flour, 3/4 sticks of cold butter cut into little cubes, a bit of salt. Rub the flour into the butter and add enough water so it bareley sticks together as a dough. Refrigerate. Roll out and put it into a pie pan. Fill it with cut up apples. Bake it at 400 till the apples are the right color.

    Really simple - and you can spend a lifetime on getting it just right, just how much water is needed, just how do you mix it, just how long do you bake it, and how that changes every time with the humidity and temperature of the day, and so on, not even speaking of trying to add almond butter in the bottom, or glazing the apples with condensed juice, or frenchifying it be adding an yoke and sugar to the dough.

    So, it is simple as pie - and mine (while quite edible) is still a joke compared what i remember my grandmothers was like.

  14. salthepal

    salthepal New Member

    Re: tango vs. salsa - My own experience was that salsa was a lot easier at the beginning. My explanation is that when you're a salsa beginner, you can easily believe that you are good when you aren't, whereas in tango, when you're not good, it's painfully obvious to you. A lot of people drop out because of this feeling. One of my students described as this as feeling crippled. Some people cherish the challenge, and stick with it and end up becoming great dancers.

    Of course, many other factors are at work, most of all the music. I never stuck with salsa long enough to become advanced, because I never got hooked on the dance or the music like I was with tango.
  15. quixotedlm

    quixotedlm New Member

    As someone who dances both, I'd say that salsa is easier than Tango, because salsa is socially easier to navigate than Tango. For a new dancers, any dance can feel difficult, and it's easy enough to experience awareness of one's own ineptitude in either dance (most folks who don't dance salsa easily discount the fact that the dance is comprised of partnering aspects, as well as solo aspects - and the solo stuff is not at all easy or comfortable). The difference IMO is that the salsa dancers are repeatedly conditioned by just about every teacher than one ought to dance with everyone. There is the inevitable selectiveness that ensues among more experienced dancers, but dancers at all levels tend to nurture others who are about 1-2 notches below themselves. Frankly, everything I've observed in Tango scenes in my own city, as well as others that I've travelled to, seem to suggest that the social dynamics in Tango are snoottier than the most uptight scenarios that I've seen in salsa. All other explanations may seem logical, but I think this lies at the heart of the what makes Tango seemingly harder than most other dances.
  16. guysanddolls

    guysanddolls New Member

    Somehow I find it the other way around: the tango scenes I had travelled to are more genuinely welcoming than salsa scenes. for instance, I would feel comfortable sleeping over at a fellow tangueros while in town for a tango event but I'd get a hotel room for salsa congress. (I had slept quite a few couches for lindy/blues exchanges as well)

    The subtleties of tango music certainly carries into tango dance, dancers and dance etiquettes. It's hard to picture myself doing cabeceo on a salsa floor - def need to channel my inner diva to grab a lead
  17. quixotedlm

    quixotedlm New Member

    I agree with this sentiment. I feel like it reinforces my observation though - genuineness often comes with discernment.

    As a side note, it's the norm in salsa congresses for acquaintances to share a room. Mixed gender, and sharing beds (platonically) is very common. Not the same as intimate welcome into ones home, but a sense of casual camaraderie that is broadly inclusive.
  18. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member

    See, I would say to cut the butter into the flour, which provides additional proof of your point that it's semantics. ;)
  19. pygmalion

    pygmalion Well-Known Member

    But can you make a good apple pie? :wink:
  20. Joe

    Joe Well-Known Member


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