24 December 2008

Basics that beginners in Tango should know

A lot of beginners ask me for advice because they want to learn Argentine Tango. Here's what I tell them.

The metaphysical stuff

The objective of Argentine Tango is not dance for the awe and appreciation of others. The objective is to achieve that connection to whomever you dance with. There will come a time when "Magic" happens––an unbelievably beautiful melding of intent and movement between two people that is marvelously intimate.

This is achieved when all of the elements of AT come together (e.g. walks, hesitations, musicality, line of dance, etc.) without you ever having to think about it. It just happens. This is achieved over time via dedication to the dance.

The technical stuff

• Make sure your teacher is an Argentine Tango specialist. Someone who REALLY dances and understands the magic of Argentine Tango. Not just someone who knows steps.

• Master the basics (e.g walks, basic fundamental AT parameters of movement, rules, and etiquette)

• Learn how to string the basics together in musical interpretation.

• Don't be obsessed with steps. Step memorizers make the worse AT dancers.

• Learn to lead. The art of making your partner do something in synch with you without saying anything. It is the basis of AT

• Be familiar with authentic traditional tango music (NOT ballroom adaptations). I'm talking about the old scratchy stuff. You'll understand eventually.

• Be patient. AT requires time to learn. It requires time to be good at. I have lost count of the classmates I have had who wanted to learn everything AT fast. They're all gone from the milongas.

• Treat AT as a brand new dance learning experience. Keep an open mind, don't compare it to what you know now as this will be a brand new journey.

• Be humble. There's always someone who's better than you

Start with that for now.

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