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Monday, February 9, 2009

Teaching Patterns

For myself, as a leader and occasional instructor, I have found that the realization of the fact that any pattern learned in a class or workshop can be broken down into many smaller movements was the crux in learning how to lead in an actual social situation. It has been the patterns that have taught me the various possibilities and where I might insert those smaller movements into real time situations. No pattern is ever set in stone, floor craft simply will not allow it. Many instructors of tango disregard this simple fact when teaching, and it is a shame because it is the very thing that makes this dance so fulfilling as well as challenging. I might also add that in my opinion the improvisation required to navigate on a crowded pista (as in Buenos Aires) is responsible for almost all of the movements that make Tango what it is.

What is helpful is when the instructor explains the reason for each particular part of a pattern so that the students might begin to explain the nuts and bolts of what they are doing rather than blindly repeating.

One good thing about patterns, when everyone in the room is doing the same thing it makes it much easier for the instructor to see what is wrong or right with what the students are doing.

Patterns might be useful during some type of Tango Fantasia for show tango or as I said earlier as a teaching and learning tool but the dance is about leading and following and giving yourself to your partner and to the music. What is dance if not movement. As Gavtito once said anyone who steps on to a dance floor is a dancer, and should think of themselves as one.