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October 22, 2005

Continuing assessment

Last night was the third guided practica session.

The turnout of 12 people for the initial part of guided practice was quite encouraging. Especially heartening was that more than two thirds of those who came were relative newcomers. So, despite the fact that I left office late and did not get a bite to eat before the practica, I felt compelled to lead the participants through a good practice session! In short, everyone had a good sweat after the practica…

It is rather unfortunate, but unsurprising, that some people I have spoken to – even among those who have been dancing for about 2-3 years – are not fully clear on the purpose of a practica or the need for continuing practices (and similarly the wish to improve). I suppose this is because we never had such a “creature” in our Tango community. It is my sincere hope that the Friday practicas will continue to build a following, and the resulting momentum in turn leads to a better community awareness of the difference between a practica – where people have the mindset of honing their skills by practising with a purpose (see also my previous entry on effective practice) – and a milonga – a party where socialising plays a major role, and dancing is somewhat incidental. 🙂 In time, I do hope that our Tango community can thrive and grow like the ones in Hong Kong and Taipei.

Right now, I can foresee two issues which are likely to cause some concerns in the coming weeks regarding the practicas. Firstly, as I had already mentioned before the first session, it is not straightforward to come up with different themes week after week. However, I suspect this task may become less difficult as I learn more about the needs of the participants, either through observations or talking.

The second issue is how I should manage expectations of people who want to dance? After all, people are attracted to Tango for many different reasons. Not everyone is motivated to improve his/her dancing skills once it reaches a reasonably competent – or not – level. Practicas have been treated as another venue for dancing, and people will continue to treat it so as long as there is no change in the mentality. Especially after the regular classes recommence, the amount of time available to “free-for-all” dancing will be even more limited. Perhaps I can reserve my final decision to what the community wants?

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