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May 14, 2006


Teaching methodology

Since starting regular Tango classes for beginners, I have had to seriously reflect on all that I have learnt: from the visiting teachers, observations on the dance floor, and my personal customization to suit my temperament and style. As probably common to many people who are starting out, occasionally you do get stumped by the simplest of things!

Take the basic yet fundamental concept of walking. You may think, as all of us have already years of practice at this, so what’s the big deal? In other words, is there anything more for you and I to learn??

As far as a rank beginner is concerned – leaving aside intermediate and stage dancing – my approach for the time being is try to extend the naturalness of his/her usual way of walking to the dance floor. This means, as far as possible, there should not be anything that is bio-mechanically incorrect, which may cause injury in future. On the other hand, slight modifications (e.g. for balance and dynamism) are required when dancing on higher-than-usual heels (for ladies) or other not-so-flat shoes (for men). Now, others may argue that many among us naturally has bad habits 🙂 but here I am assuming that one has good posture, etc. etc. In fact, Royce has a very detailed account of the development in her own walking from a follower’s perspective.

For me, while having been preoccupied with analysis of techniques in the past, when it comes down to the final analysis, the basic philosophy is to try to maintain as far as possible a natural way of walking, but with a certain emphasis or “accent”. It’s this last element which distinguishes Tango-walk from the everyday-walk. This emphasis becomes most apparent when I walk with a strong intention, and can feel music driving every part of the process.

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1 Comment
  1. ah hao
    Jun 21 2006

    You brought out an interesting and very important point – the walk. To me, it’s the single most important element in the dance other than connection with the partner and music. Argentine tango is not just about all the fancy patterns and flying kicks that we see so many aspire to. To me, the magic of the dance is in the ‘hidden’ energy (for lack of a better word) of the walk and pauses. (have a look at how Gavito dances)

    I am also reminded of a particular clip of Javier’s dancing which show me how when he dances, it is like taking a relaxed stroll in the park.. very smooth, very controlled and yet relaxed. Nothing fancy.. mostly just simple walking and pauses.

    I remember attending Javier’s class where he started off the class by asking everyone to just walk normally, like what we do when not dancing. Heel toe, heel toe. Song after song…

    My experience of the ‘tango-walk’ is that the naturalness and accent comes from at least 2 of the following –
    1. The ‘pushing off’ from the leg you are standing on.
    2. The relaxed yet controlled hip and knee of the landing leg that receives the energy from the push.

    Bearing these 2 points in mind, one really has to keep walking and walking and walking. In the process, one will achieve the fluidity, smoothness and relaxed look —i.e. once the body starts to gain control over more and more parts of the body muscles involved in the walking.

    Good luck 🙂

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