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December 12, 2008


Some quick reflections after the past two weekends of workshops with Hsueh-tze Lee and partly due to the short discussion we had on the approaches to learning.

For someone not having the luxury of “Tango immersion”, either in Buenos Aires or in the various Tango strongholds in Europe or USA, from a purely technical point of view, I like to imagine the learning process for Tango as a little bit like an onion. An onion has many layers. At the core, there are the basic philosophical principles. The next layer out will be some generic techniques. Finally we come to the outer layer of “style” that is usually the first thing people see.

Examples of guiding principles are the 5 secrets I mentioned before. However, the principles will remain as empty words unless you have the technical skills to express those ideas. Some of these may be

  • The whole concept of “comfortable connection” with your partner – as to the how, that will depend on the embrace used.
  • How a leader initiates a step and how should a follower respond?
  • Postures, not just for the sake of appearance but also as a means to protect your and your partner’s back.
  • Torsion (assuming a chest-to-chest close embrace) to initiate turns.
  • Subtle shifts in weight from ball to heel to increase balance, generate momentum, increase comfort level.

Finally we come to the last layer, which is the issue of styles. By this I don’t mean simply the outward appearance of the embrace. This is more to do with overall feel and how one chooses to interpret the music.

More on the differences between styles and techniques later – hopefully very soon. 🙂

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