[Tango-L] The Challange in Teaching Newbies [Was Breaking the'paso basico']

Victor Bennetts Victor_Bennetts at infosys.com
Thu Feb 14 20:07:40 EST 2008

It *is* the sequence's fault, actually and the teacher's as well for using an outmoded method of teaching. You don't have to teach beginners the basic in order to teach them how to backstep. You do have to unteach dancers who learnt via the basic the habit of backsteping at the start of every song. Oh how I love the crashes! And nothing marks out a tourist more in the milongas of BsAs than starting every song with a backstep. We are not just talking about beginners here, there are plenty of 'advanced' dancers out there who just can't break the habit. Is it any wonder that Argentine followers are suspicious of dancing with foreign leaders. Look no further than this...how can a follower relax and trust their leader when they feel the danger of a collision at the start of every dance?

Further, if someone is taught from the start that they can step in any direction (forward back side) at any time, but should do so in time to the music - amazingly they start out and remain musical without the need for painful lessons about counting the beat etc. And if they are not worrying about mastering steps they might actually think about their posture, embrace and their follower's axis all infinitely more important subjects. I say its time to stand up for the newbies. Give me one of them any day over an advanced dancer who knows lots of sequences. Newbies don't know yet they have to backstep at the start of every phrase. They don't know what 'going to the six' means so don't assume it is something that has a logical place in every phrase of tango no matter how it is written and must follow from a particular set pattern. They don't ocho, step over or turn unless you actually lead something. Newbies have not been stuffed up yet so even if you have to limit your range to dance with them at least they are actually dancing. God bless and preserve newbies and may I always be one of them!

Victor Bennetts

Alexis >That's not the poor sequence's fault (after all, it's an inanimate abstract
>object) - it's the teacher's ;). If you haven't taught flexibility in
>tempi, step length or alerted anyone to rotational degrees of freedom,
>I don't think the absence of the D8CB and its replacement with something
>else is going to change anything at milongas.

>I can still vividly remember a milonga full of beginners from rabid
>D8CB-hating classes that would not do a backstep (fine) but would
>still march on to ram their followers into anyone in their way on
>their unstoppable forward march; you don't have eyes in the back,
>but if you aren't using the ones in your front either, it doesn't make
>that much of a difference.

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