I tonight did both the beginner’s and improver’s classes again – though the order is reversed on Tuesdays. All four classes taught a different version of a 180-degree turn:
- Monday beginners: Three rebounds while pivoting
- Monday improvers: Three back ochos into a pivot, ending with both leader and follower in a cross
- Tuesday improvers: A cross into a medio-giro
- Tuesday beginners: A rebound into a medio-giro …
The good news is that I do seem to be getting the hang of 180-degree pivots. The medio-giro is a turn I now really like, and three of the approaches were essentially variations on that theme. The pivot into a leader cross was a new concept for me (I’d never done a leader’s cross before), but it was making sense after about 20 minutes of solo practice this morning.
The bad news is that my tango brain can only keep three plates spinning at any one time. Learning new steps is one. Navigating in a very crowded class is two. And when a teacher gives me a technique point to work on, that’s three. You may have noticed I’ve run out of slots for managing my basics.
Hamdi said that for the pivot having my left arm further out would give more of a sweeping feeling to the pivot, which indeed it did, big time! Both my follower and I could really feel the difference. Only … Natalia came over shortly afterwards to point out I was now leading with that arm – it was getting ahead of my chest! Ha …
But combining an open arm with a solid frame is something I can practice on my own.
I was also doing my usual thing when learning something new: tending to rush the movement. With anything involving ochos, ensuring I don’t get ahead of my follower is especially important.
A tired but happy brain
My brain is slightly addled by all the variations, and I’m not convinced that any of them will make it into my dance quite yet. With two hours of lessons both yesterday and today, I was too tired to venture into the milonga afterwards to find out.
But I do think this approach, doing both beginner and improver’s classes together, is a really good one. It’s definitely accelerating my learning. Not so much in terms of sequences, but in terms of both my mind and my body getting a better sense of all the different variations possible.
I’m viewing the Tango Space lessons as a great way to get exposed to lots of different things; to get a chance to practice them with followers of a wide range of abilities; and to get a surprising amount of really high-quality personal feedback from different teachers. I can then note the technique issues they identify, and focus on those in my private lessons.
I think with Mariano, I’m going to ask him not to teach anything new, but rather to work on my technique for things I’ve been doing in the classes. Which is already what I do with Maeve. My guided practice sessions with Bridgitta are more free-form, but because she’s a friend who has a really good sense of what I need at any given time, I’ll continue to just go with the flow there. (Even when she is suggesting homework that involves interpretation of this!)
A future plan
Steph, meantime, had been at a technique class run by Miriam and Dante. It’s advertised as suitable for all levels, Steph does think it would be within my capabilities now, and it sounds great from her description and demos. But sadly this clashes with my Tango Space classes, so will have to wait until I’ve completed at least the current 10-week cycle.
And the ‘what goes up‘ stuff? Mostly, the lesson seems to be to just power through it. Or at least, keep going. Some days are going to be 10s, others are going to be 1s, and most are going to be somewhere between the two. Keep practicing. Keep taking classes. Trust that it’ll average out, and the overall trend will be upward.