Asking ourselves about our roles in learning and teaching Argentine tango.
Eric and I have been busy writing articles for this website and are enthusiastic about sharing our thoughts and explorations. We thought that now would be a good time to reflect on why we approach our learning and teaching in the way that we do and our goals in writing what we do.
We have been so grateful for the positive feedback from around the world and would like to thank everyone for having open hearts and open minds when reading our notes, since they are sometimes a bit unconventional. We are constantly seeking to find innovative ways of coming to a noble dance, while honoring its foundation and canon.
We also understand that some people who read our articles, but have never attended our classes or who do not know us personally, might be skeptical. We often contradict very common modes of tango instruction. Our goal in writing these articles is not to say that there is a right or wrong way of learning and teaching tango. Indeed, it is quite the opposite. We feel that being exposed to a variety of teaching approaches is crucial in becoming a well-rounded dancer. It is very likely that the synthesis of several different instructors teaching the same thing, each in different ways, finally creates the connections that a student needs to learn a concept.
Bad posture is a common problem.
I recently gave a weekly challenge to create awareness of our posture, “Scrunch your shoulders, fix your posture!”. The exercise is specifically targeted at slouched shoulders and a forward head posture. After posting it, I received a few emails from tango dancers and non-dancers, all thanking me for the reminder. Many said that this particular exercise is something they’ve been told to do. As I was writing this article, it came time for another body awareness challenge, so I posted “Balance your head!”, which generated even more feedback. Clearly, bad posture is a problem that many of us are struggling with.
The questionable argument is that, in the beginning, leaders have a steeper learning curve than followers.
In the process of my own learning, and now, again as we are helping new beginners to learn tango, I am questioning the way many of us have been taught and the perspectives that new dancers have, or are taught to have, shortly after they begin learning Argentine tango.
To teach well is to question thoroughly
Yesterday, a lovely and inspiring woman, Sasha Cagen, from the San Francisco area wrote us, inquiring about our ways of teaching tango movement after having attended TangoBreath when she visited Asheville this summer. Eric and I were perplexed at first about how to respond. Explaining how to teach is a giant step from actually teaching. There are so many subtle ways in which our teaching, and learning, has evolved in TangoBreath, from a word we might use to a way in which we physically adjust people. And there is so much, still, for us to learn.