Teachers should dance too

In Thursday’s Shrewsbury class we were joined by an Argentine by the name of Guido. He is I believe on of the men that Carol, from Leeds, brings over to help in her classes, over there on the north east side of the country. She had kindly lent him out to us poorer border people for the night. His class consisted of mainly ocho milonguero, and giro miloguero. Although for Viv and I there was nothing particularly new here, he presented it in a refreshing way that gave us much to think about. While many of the beginners struggled with the basic step, the playful repeats he did gave us something to work on, and left me with a smile on my face. My only criticism was that after the class he was reluctant to dance with any of the students. I think it was his great loss, many of the ladies here have come along at a fantastic pace, a real tribute to Sharon’s teaching. Of course he also missed out on dancing with Viv, she refuses to ask the men, and why should she? After years of putting up with beginners, would it really have been too much trouble to give her one dance? I have been to some classes where the teacher makes a point of dancing with every woman, and even some of the men, after all isn’t that part of it, to show what a good lead feels like? This discussion carried over to The Coracle for our weekly tango discussion. Among other topics discussed was again, the men telling the women where to put their feet. Horror, I was accused of doing precisely this. I suppose in some ways I was, whilst leading a giro I was pointing out where the feet should go, not away from me but in a circular motion, so that I am not pulled off axis. To me it is a mute point, I am not trying to get her to do something I cannot lead, merely to do something better. Still that is how it looks, and I suppose those I criticise could be doing the same thing. Maybe I should just, shut up and dance. We move on now to Saturday and a workshop on social volcadas with Haydyn Brown and Sharon.

Three hours of workshop followed by a Milonga represented good value, and as it was in my free weekend, how could I refuse. It seemed at first we were to do anything but volcadas, but all this was in preparation, getting the legs free and trust in your partner are essentials to a good volcada, but I have to admit, even I did not see where we were going at first. We stared off with some low boleos, low and small, something you could do in a crowded Milonga. This we were to learn later is a way of testing any new partner; there is little point in leading a full boleo or especially a volcada if the woman will not follow. Next we moved on to leg wraps, this was all about positioning, as well as learning something new and exciting. Finally we moved on to the volcadas, what we had all come for (although I suspect that there were those who had no idea what a volcada was). I think that it gave some an advantage; I spent most of the time trying to do too much. We have done volcada workshops before and there was I trying to get lots of lean, and lots of sweep, when all that was required was subtlety. Still I got there in the end and we enjoyed the experience. Some reassurance was needed, a lot of gobsmacked faces around. We have been to many workshops often walking away remembering nothing. It is only by doing them over and over that something sticks. Things do stay there, you just do not realise. Next workshop will seem easier and the one after. There is nothing special about us; we have just done so many. In fact I think sometimes the reason I am able to explain things well, is because I found it so difficult to learn, in the first place.

After a break for food we moved on to the nights Milonga. It was a shame so many had to leave, but fortunately more arrived and we had a good number in the end. Hayden, danced with all the women, just as he should, and Sharon gave us men some rest also leading the women. My moan? There is always one: I danced, I think, with all the women, except Sharon. I always feel it a bit unfair that she has to dance with all the beginners and I usually miss her out. Today though she did dance with Haydyn, it must be nice not to have to look down to her partners for once.

Just for your entertainment, I have included a photo of me taken by Jantango outside The Bibioteca Nacional. This is what you have to do to use a Moble Phone in Argentina.

See using a Cell phone is easy

See using a Cell phone is easy

7 Comments

Filed under Dance Venues and Schools, milonga

7 responses to “Teachers should dance too

  1. tangobob

    I too was supridsed, the class itself was excellent, maybe he was just tired. Give my regards to Carole for me, and tell her that next time I see ger in El Aranque I will definitely dance with her.

  2. g williams

    actually the teacher’s name was Guillermo Fariña.

    I am Guido if you were to translate my name to Spanish 🙂

  3. magickwords

    Absolutely agree. Also very useful for a leader to get feedback from a follower who has danced with a teacher.

    I am surprised, however, that the problem described above arose on this occasion. I attend Carole’s class in Sheffield every week and haven’t noticed teachers not dancing with students, both during and after the classes.

  4. tangobob

    Sorry Janis
    I forgot to credit you with the picture. Thanks

  5. tangobob

    Arlene
    You are right, the explanations should be kept just to the practica, which is where I was. That said, even there I do not like to see men explaining where a move should go, and in general, if a woman does not follow my lead I will not persue it too long. Often though the idea of a back step or side step, is misinterpreted and the rotational movement is lost in the giro. Was I showing her where to step or improving her positioning? Perception is reality I suppose.
    And in answer to you both, nobody should consider themselves too good to dance with the beginners, in that way lies eliteism, discouragement , and possibly the end of many a future good dancer.

  6. Arlene

    I’m with Jan on this one. If the classes and dancing after consist of a generally small group, then there is no reason for the teacher not to dance with the women. It promotes good will, shows what a good lead is and will generate further interest in future classes.

    As far as explaining a gyro, well, if you feel you have to explain anything, don’t. Gyros need to be taught properly and I have danced with so many men that think they really know how to lead them. Save it for the practica.

  7. jantango

    Bob,

    You make an excellent point why teachers should dance with their students. Women need to feel a proper lead, and the best way is with a teacher. The same for the men who need feedback from an experienced dancer.

    Last month I danced with a student in a private lesson so I could feel his lead. He commented how he knew exactly where I was and that I felt as light as a feather. This provided insight into his partner’s dancing and where adjustments were needed.

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