22 August 2010

Someone asked me to teach tango

A non-tango colleague of mine, quite insistently, asked me to teach her tango. Maybe even start a tango club at work. I graciously said no and gave my reasons. My colleague seemed baffled at my answer. I just ended up saying that I couldn't teach.

I guess, trying to address my true reasons were something only tango people would truly understand—I think...

Don't want to teach steps
I can (probably) teach different levels of steps, mechanical techniques, come up with patterns, and develop really deep tango concepts. However, I'm not inclined to go down this road because I have not the time nor the patience for such an endeavor. As a friend of mine once said, "As far as tango goes, I'm a consumer, not a producer."

The real reason I don't want to teach
The real reason I truly do not want to teach is this—I cannot teach anyone to express themselves with their own souls. I can teach my expression from MY soul. Having someone trying to adopt my interpretation  will end up with someone trying to emulate myself. What I would want to happen is for everyone is to create a distinctive "you." I do not know enough to inspire someone to activate and express their own brand of tango from deep within.

When the time comes when I figure out how to inspire people to develop their own tango expression, maybe I'll consider teaching tango, but, not until then.

19 August 2010

My little bunny brain blow ups

One of my major tango pitfalls are attending Tango workshops and tango lessons. I... am... a... slow... learner.

My latest  foray into the tango workshop world was with a beautiful and dear friend. Secretly, I was a little hesitant going to the workshop. It has been so long since I've taken a workshop. Soon, I would remember why I don't do workshops anymore.

The workshop started off well enough. I breezed through the first materials. As the workshop progressed and more (and complicated) material was given, the more disconcerted I got. My dancing got progressively worse. My loving embraced turned into something in between a bear-hug and a submission hold. My giros resembled something like Judo takedowns done to tango music. It was bad.

With remorse, I apologized to my partner for my man-handling. She smiled and said, "Your little bunny brain blew up." I so very mush agreed.

Short circuiting synapses
The reason my brain fries (regularly) during lessons and workshops is because of volume vs. time. The teacher will throw so much stuff at me, and so fast. My mind and body are overwhelmed and incapable of absorbing everything in one session.

It takes time for my muscle memory to learn and adapt. It takes time for my brain to absorb the patterns and steps. My motor skills and body mechanics have not processed fast enough to deliver proper technique.

Then, in fits of desperation, frustration, and aggravation, my philosophical brain takes over and tries to analyze (and/or justify) the applicability of the lesson in a real milonga... While I'm still trying to do all of the aforementioned!

Managing my short-comings
I cannot hope to come up to the level of my expert teachers. I do however, am capable of being a passable social dancer. That being said, I have developed my "Ampster's strategy to tango learning from lessons:"

  • I know my boundaries and capabilities
  • I pick and choose from the lessons they gave me, and try to modify and adapt them to a social milonga floor
  • I take the lessons and figure out the body mechanics to make it work 
  • I visualize (like a movie in my mind) how its supposed to work. I think of the appropriate technique, body mechanics, timing, leading that I need to do
  • I only do "The move" if I can lead it comfortably with a follower. If I can't, I won't have her suffer through my incompetence

In addressing all of my little bunny brain blow-ups, I resign myself to the fact that I am not infallible. I take my time to learn. I cannot do everything that was taught to me, but I [eventually] can do enough to add a little tidbit to my repertoire. Eventually, those little tidbits add up to make for an interesting tanda.

P.S. To my wonderful and beautiful tango workshop buddy... Thank you for putting up with me :)

04 August 2010

The movie star in my arms

Every woman I tango with is a movie star.

She is the reason I dance tango

She is the reason I improve my dance

I adore her

I care for her

I venerate her

I revel in the warmth of her embrace

I must make her comfortable in my embrace

It is my job to make her look good

It is my job to make her feel good

It is my job to lead her well

If she dances well, I dance well

If we dance well, the music is within us

If the music is within us, we are one

If we are one, then we are in tango

I truly care for the woman I tango with, for she is the movie star in my arms