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 :)


Anna-Marie said...

Now I'm curious as to what workshop you visited; is the photo a hint of who your dance partner was...

I understand bunny brain blow ups--can you imagine if you had to take two or three workshops--I used to, and it could be overwhelming.

It usually takes the next few milongas to make your learning simmer and recover.

Brian Halbert said...

Workshops are tough in that way. I try to keep myself in some sort of zen-mind: Letting each new aspect imprint onto emptiness.

And then I get frustrated with a particular motion, and it goes away. I find what is helpful, for me, is to make each `practice time' during the workshop into an actual dance, including the new thing a couple of times.

In particular, I vary how it's used ... so in the three minute song, might do the motion as taught twice, backwards once, on the other foot once, and smaller components a couple of times. Trying to fit the components into places in my regular dancing.

It does not always work =P

Unknown said...

My workshop learning curve looks like this:

20% workshop material that day. (or less)
6 months later, the other 40% finally clicks.
Sometimes I never get the last 20%.

I still think it's worth it most of the time. Usually I'll get a usable piece or two, and some great concepts. Many thin layers of varnish & sanding to polish up this dance.