tango teacher - salon style, dvida - should I avoid?

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by flyhere, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. flyhere

    flyhere New Member

    Hi All,

    Would like to ask your expert advise.

    I talked to a teacher today about her AT class, and she said she teaches salon style from the dvida syllabus bronze level.

    This sounds too much like ballroom to me, and reading up on old posts here and elsewhere, I have a feeling this may not the best way to learn. I also understand this is pretty common teaching in the US.

    My question is if it's ok for a beginner to start with this, and later move to other things? or it's a bad way to start out? should I try and see?

    All advises are appreciated. How did you all start out? Thanks.

    fly
  2. etp777

    etp777 Active Member

    I'd move on and find someone else. Not actually a lot of syllabus AT teachers around here (nless they're working in one of the two big chains), so surprised that it'd be common anywhere. But common or not, if you have a choice, I'd go elsewhere. And I'm firmly dedicated to my chain schools. :)
  3. jantango

    jantango Active Member

    A teacher using a syllabus isn't giving you real Argentine tango as it is danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires.

    Tell us in what city you live and members may be able to recommend a teacher.

    Whoever you decide on for classes, ask the question: have you been to Buenos Aires?
  4. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    I would advise that you move on and find somebody else. What you have described is the M.O. in ballroom-centric studios.

    BTW, there NO bronze, silver, gold levels in AT, nor is there a syllabus. This is a ballroom thing. So is this method of teaching.

    Where are you located? Maybe if we know where you are, some of the members can point you in the right direction as far as AT specific teachers are concerned.
  5. flyhere

    flyhere New Member

    Thanks all for your prompt responses. I thought it was a red flag when I heard those words, syllabus, dvida, bronze..., based on what I have read.

    I did ask about BA and milonga dancing, no the teacher has not been to BA. This is out of a dance studio in the area (I don't want to mention names), btw their cost is about half of another studio also nearby, Avant Garde. Also, Avant Garde does not have a suitable class at present, it seems a couple of known AT teachers (from Argentina) do not offer beginners lessons.

    Thanks again, will keep looking.

    fly
  6. larrynla

    larrynla Member

    I'd say avoid it, but it probably wouldn't hurt to take a first class as long as you understand that you may not be getting the full Argentine experience of tango, and that you need to avoid getting sucked into the whole Organized Ballroom World.

    Click the following to find out what is DVIDA.

    Click the following to find out what is their syllabus for Argentine Tango. Notice that it is organized organized according to figures you have to memorize. Not a bad list, but there's no mention of musicality and body dynamics and leading and following.

    Janis Kenyon has a number of videos showing some of the best traditional tango dancers performing at various milongas. Watch these a few times and you'll get an education in excellent tango dancing - most I've seen so far do exactly what they do in a crowd, all intimate dancing with no showing off for an audience.

    Janis Kenyon's YouTube favorites.

    Laer Carroll
  7. Dave Bailey

    Dave Bailey New Member

    I don't think there's anything inherently wrong in having a "syllabus", if that means "a structure for teaching".

    But yes, it does sound a bit ballroom-y in this case.

    Yes - figure-wise, it looks OK. But there's barely any mention of walking...!
  8. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    So, where are you? What major city are you in or are close ?
  9. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member




    But there is ( this has been brought up in past threads )

    AND,, it is the general variety that most, if not all dancers know and use...

    This the " list " he reccommends for beginners....

    1.. Double and Reverse starts

    2.. La Salida

    3.. Alternative basic construction

    4.. La Media Luna

    5.. Reverse turn Check..

    After mastering these...

    1.. El Ocho

    2.. El Doble Ocho

    3.. La Doble Crusada

    4.. La Sentada

    5.. La Parada

    6.. L/Foot resolution

    7.. El Giro basico a la Izquierda

    8.. ,, ,, ,, Derecha


    And.. I have no " axe " to grind in the selection or the concept..
  10. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    I've been dancing this for almost four years and have absolutely no clue what half of those things are supposed to be... (And not for lack of quality instruction.)

    I understand the concept of a structured approach to teaching, but it makes me exceptionally nervous in the AT realm. Not sure exactly why. Particularly for followers, I HATE the idea of a syllabus; for leaders, not so much. Again, not sure exactly why.

    Also, the idea of an AT syllabus coming from DVIDA, and being broken up into bronze/silver/gold, makes me really think they just don't have a real clue and are applying ballroom principles to AT steps. Very nervous...
  11. bastet

    bastet Active Member


    I think teaching by pattern DVIDA or otherwise is not that common here.

    It sounds as if the person is pretty ballroom focused and I'd shop around a little.

    One thing you can do is go to different studios, see if they have a drop in rate maybe, and attend a few drop in classes. Or ask to just watch for a class.

    See how the teaher teaches. See if what they are teaching and how they are conveying information and interacting with people in the class is something that resonates with you.

    I would consider this more important than whether they were Argentine, or had been to Buenos Aires. Heritage goes not imply instant mastery of the dance, and I wouldn't let having been to BsAs or not be the deal maker or breaker if it were me. I think it's great if they have but it wouldn't deter me if they hadn't if their teaching looked sound to me.

    I do think it important that they have had good training, but there are US cities who also have a well developed community (with plenty of crowded milongas to "cut your teeth in") and good set of teachers. Maybe 20 years ago it was necessary to go to BsAs to learn to dance or for a teacher to learn to teach, but so many of them travel now, I'd say not as important as someone actually being able to convey information.

    Just my two cents.
  12. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    Probably makes you more nervous for followers because of the memorization aspect.

    I kow one follow who would only do a volcada if she got a "prep" arc of the leg behind her first, because that was the "pattern" they learned and what everyone did...Needless to say she had to unlearn that.

    The list given (not sure where it came from- have to go back and look) has stuff I recognize. You probablay do most of it, just may not know or care about the names. No biggie- Media Luna has several connotations for me- either a partial giro going back-side-forward and then reversing it back and forth, or a partial giro to the left (back-side-forward) that can end in a cross for the lady if you don't roll the embrace or a step through on the forward if you do roll. But sentadas? In there with ochos? I wouldn't put that in with basic social vocabuary you need to know....
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member



    He is UKA Fellow and former world champ. in T/A.... definitely NOT B/room tango.. we have a poster on here who knows his work quite well.. maybe he will give his opinion
  14. Subliminal

    Subliminal Well-Known Member

    Hi everyone!

    I just started learning, and thought I'd jump in with my experience. I took a short group class series with a local chain studio, and it was definitely taught with a ballroom perspective. I came away from it feeling very frustrated.

    I've been lurking here a while and also have a friend who's done AT for years who's given me some advice, so I had a good idea of what I wanted to learn when I started. So there's me, trying to "feel" my partner's feet and weight changes, step to the music, and figure out the mechanics behind leading a move... and the followers are just back-leading me through whatever step is being taught. :( I didn't really learn much, besides a few preset foot patterns to enter into a few moves. Also a "basic" step for the walk...

    That having been said, I am looking for a better place to start learning now. So, um, if anyone has any recommendations for teachers (private and group classes) in the DC/MD area, please let me know. :D
  15. flyhere

    flyhere New Member

    Sorry, I thought I typed that in my post, must have been the late hours and old age.

    I live in Newport Beach in Orange County, California. OC is pretty sparse cultural activities wise. It's just a bunch of small cities around here: Huntington Beach, Irvine, Costa Mesa, Laguna Beach. Anaheim (Disneyland) is about 35 minutes drive. I did find a few names from searching teaching through a few local dance studios.

    Several teachers in Los Angeles but it's about 1 hour drive north of here.

    Thanks
    fly
  16. flyhere

    flyhere New Member

    I had the same thoughts, and skeptical enough to ask. Thanks.
  17. flyhere

    flyhere New Member

    Thanks for the excellent thoughts. I would agree that at my beginners level, it's more important that they have a good training and TEACH well, and less so if they have been to BsAs or they are good dancers (on the premises that excellent dancers don't always make excellent teachers).

    With little knowledge to begin with, I am learning what to ask and how to tell if it's a decent teacher. Btw, I did find a couple of drop-in classes, and also asked to observe a teaching session, that's how I started talking to this teacher.

    I am not sure if drop-in classes is a good way to start, aren't they like workshops for people who have had some basics? (the drop-in classes are just a couple of dollars more)

    Thanks again
    fly
  18. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Larry's link to the syllabus was very helpful.
    What I see there is a list of things that is very, very close to what I learned from Bill Alsup and Megan Pingree when I started lessons here in Portland.
    A syllabus is not, in and of itself a bad thing. Surely, anyone who is successful at teaching has a plan, or whatever you want to call it.
    In particular I note "weight changes in place" as one of the very first items on their list. Even with people who have many, many skills, being able to do that simple thing well enough to make it worthwhile is not that common even here in Portland, where is comes in very handy in crowded, "close embrace" conditions.
    How well the teacher conveys basic technique and the essentialness of the music is another question

    Really, you should think in terms of the fact that you will probably end up getting different pieces of the overall picture from different instructors. If you stick with it. And, in a dance that encompasses so many different styles, that should be acceptable.
    Think of this as the first step in a journey with many steps.

    Some of us have noted that we have quibbles with every instructor we've ever had (just about). Ideally, they will allow you to go one class at a time. Take a look at how much, if any, committment they require, and balance that against the considerations of time, cost, etc.
  19. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Hi, Subliminal, and welcome to AT.
    Peaches lives in Harper's Ferry (says so right there by her name) and dances in the DC area, so maybe she can give you some info.
  20. bastet

    bastet Active Member

    I guess what I mean by "drop in" is some places allow you to attend the ongoing class on a pay per time basis. Overall this would cost more than paying for the whole set of lessons for the month to do that if you end up going several times and paying for several single lessons, but you could try several places out that way over the course of a month before making a decision and only have spent for one lesson at the places you are considering....like asking if you can pay for a drop in class for whatever beginner set is going on cuurently...that should give you some idea of teaching methods.

    I don't have any way to describe what you are terming "drop in" other than just a workshop...we must just have different terminology for it.

    Steve's advice is also very good. You may not always get all the pieces of the puzzle from one person...I don't even find this to be the case when I have lessons with masters. Often one will say something I partially "get", then it will get flushed out in a later lesson with someone else and probably on a subject that didn't even seem related at first. But I'd for sure try to find someone who can teach you the basics of connection, lead and follow and so forth.

    Steps are steps and they come with time.

    Good luck to you!

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