Back to basics

How do you rate a dancer? Is it someone with all the moves, someone who moves smoothly around the room, or someone who pleases their partner?

It must be obvious to anyone from my previous posts how I think, but I wonder, do others agree? I still see many who simply want to accumulate as many moves as possible and move constantly into higher classes without first mastering the level that they are at.

A similar thing happens in the salsa scene as well; we started back to salsa about six months ago, and due to the long break we have had, we started right from beginners. A few of those who started with us moved into improvers as soon as they could. We however stayed for a second term.

Now you may think that perhaps we are just slow learners, and I would not disagree, but there are quite a few others who fit this same category.

After our second term with the beginners, we moved on, only to find the same people who had been with us before now struggling. This was now their third term, so of course they must move on from intermediates to advanced. What is the hurry?

We fully intend to do another term of intermediates before we move on, we will know when we are ready and we have many more years dancing ahead, there is no point in spending those years struggling.

Can you not learn to dance well with the basic moves first? As we change partners I can tell who has rushed through and not yet achieved the basics. There is no shame in being in a beginner’s class; after all in tango as well as salsa you can look good doing the basics if you do them well, equally you can look awful trying to do advance stuff when you do not have the basics.

I can’t remember who said it but it is never the less true:

“Beginner’s want to dance like intermediates,

Intermediates want to dance like advanced dancers

Advanced dancers want to dance like the greats

But the greats always go back to basics.”

We are fortunate in the tango scene around here, in that most intermediates attend the beginner’s classes as well. This keeps them grounded and aware that we are never too good to go on learning. It serves another purpose as well, it gives the beginner’s an idea of how they should dance. This learning experience is lost however when we stand mid floor and direct them verbally to do moves for which they are just not ready.

All of us, in time will develop a repertoire that suits our style and ability to remember. The moves we learn and carry with us are a product of each of our personal styles; these things develop with time and patience.

The point is though, to try and learn moves just for their own sake, is pointless, and in the end will be fruitless. If your body is not ready and your abilities not honed, then you will just be going through the motions, you will always struggle and in the end will just forget what you have learned.

Take this from someone who has been there, someone who has in the past had a massive repertoire, learned all the moves, but in the end, lost it all and went back to basics.

Viv and I have been dancing together now for, I think, sixteen years. Not all of it tango, that is true, but for most of that time we have done tango in one form or another. My personal tango journey has seen me stop and re learn time and again until we saw how it should be done, in Buenos Aires. I am more than glad to pass my experiences on to others to save them time on their personal journeys, but for those (and I can understand the need) who need to travel their own route, I will wish them well and help if I can, for I am sure that in the end they will come back to tango as it should be, basic, flowing, line of dance, and with the music.

I am constantly reminded that the scene here is growing at a meteoric rate. This is due in no small part to the fact that we are all learning the same things from a proper syllabus. The teacher we have is trained in teaching, not someone who has just picked it up, and we are learning traditional tango, danced to traditional music, line of dance and for our partners.

Our group now has over one hundred dancers, I was taken to task for saying it is too small to split, despite the number I still think this is the case. As a group we need to stick together, while we are together dances will be successful, the group knowledge will increase, and more importantly we will attract more and more dancers into the fold.

After all is this not what we want? For the whole world to enjoy this beautiful dance?


Filed under milonga, Tango

3 responses to “Back to basics

  1. Pingback: Bookmarks for March 12th from 00:00 to 12:04 |

  2. tangobob

    Yes but if the whole world were dancing tango there would me more dance floors, especially in this hemisphere. True we have been away too long, I need to dance on those wonderful floors with you again. I was inspired by you post to do something about basics.
    See you in May.

  3. jantango


    Excellent post about the importance of basics. I can hardly wait to see you and Viv in Buenos Aires. You’ve been away too long.

    There’s only one thing I disagree with you. We don’t want the whole world dancing tango. The dance floors will be too crowded!!!!

Please comment, I love to hear your views.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s