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Posts from the ‘Learning’ Category



Learning to dance without angles and using change of height to create additional dynamics.


Salon or milonguero?

Melina, of the Melinda-Detlef fame, recently had something to say about tango styles. What she had written reminded me of my own experiences at a recent tango festival. I do agree with her overall thesis, that tango de salon is a sufficient description for social tango, and should not be used as a tag to separate dance styles between Susana Miller’s use of tango milonguero or Jorge Dispari’s use of Villa Urquiza = tango de salon.

Having taken classes with teachers who dance in a style that is suitable for crowded downtown milongas* in Buenos Aires (nowadays usually associated with the style prominently popularised by Susana Miller, as mentioned in Melinda’s piece), I feel that even here there can be quite distinct differences. As a postscript and before I digress too much, I suppose this is par of the richness that some are lamenting when they complain about tango “clones”!?

To me this “cloning” or “fashionable dance styles” are not really as much of problem as some people make out to be because it’s just indicative of how people came to experience tango. In the old days, people might learn from or were heavily influenced by their peers/elders, hence a style would likely remain dominant in any given barrio. In addition, from what I have heard, due to the relative isolation of different barrios, various styles usually remained untainted. In contrast, nowadays increases in the number of teachers available and fewer men practicing with other men before they can attend a milonga, people will naturally dance in the way they have been taught. I don’t think people should be faulted for trying to learn something new!? With more dancing mileage, things will surely and certainly change. It’s just a question of time.

* I think for the purpose of discussion, this long-winded description is necessary to avoid further confusion.


On note-taking

Reading this interesting post about taking notes in classes got me thinking.

Firstly, I think oftentimes people don’t practice enough what they had learnt in workshops (here I mean workshops by guest – usually international – instructors) which is a shame really. Part of the reason is precisely due to lack of revision materials/notes/visuals, etc.

However, I have to admit, I have not always been a good student as far as note-taking was concerned. In fact, during the first 4-5 years I relied a lot on videos taken during classes**. My revision, which I still feel was extremely beneficial, consisted of watching over the same videos countless times during the post-workshop editing process (to remove unnecessary parts, adding section screens, etc.), for quick review in future. Sad to say, the “quick reviews in future” seldom took place but it was the first sitting which could take up to 10x the duration of the video clips which helped to jog the memory.

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The pioneers

A recent dinner conversation gradually led to a discussion about community-wide learning curves in tango.

One of the observations made was that, during the informative years, some communities were simply more fortunate in having good instructors early on. Playing devil’s advocate, I then suggested that perhaps it was not such a bad idea for a community to have gone through the full spectrum of experiencing the “mediocre” as well as the good/excellent instructors!? My rationale was that for the people who managed to discover the appropriate ways of dancing, given their experiences, hopefully they can better relate to the problems that newbies typically face. Naturally this is especially useful if the same experienced dancers end up being local teachers.

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