Changing direction, in small and large ways

changing direction

Tonight’s Tango Space topic was changing direction. I wasn’t sure what approach to this Fede and Julia would be taking, but in the practica beforehand M wanted to have a go at another method of doing so: the movement from the Boston intermediate class.

I’d shared the demo video of this, and M thought it looked fun. It was indeed, and I hadn’t yet succeeded in leading it as taught, so was happy to give it a go …

It took a few attempts, but yep, I did finally get enough momentum to lead it properly! In theory, it could be a 180-degree turn, but mostly the teacher was getting around 120 degrees. With M, we were initially getting 90 degrees but then got closer to 120 after a few goes.

I can’t ever see leading it in a milonga, leastways not the full-speed version, but in trying to figure out how to get there, we did try some slo-mo versions, and actually there is something in there that I might be able to use in real-life dance.

Next, or was it earlier (it was super-hot in the room so my memory was fairly well melted), I volunteered to do some following with K. I’m a very incompetent follower, but on the plus side it gave her experience of leading a complete beginner. She did successfully lead the rebound turn – which had been the topic of the beginner class – so she can definitely chalk that up as a win. If she can lead me, she can lead anyone!

The improver class sequence was a complicated one – I think the most complex I’ve encountered so far. It was, if I recall it correctly: a side-step; leader-only change of weight to put us into cross system; two back ochos; two rebound turns in cross system; another back ocho; two rebound turns in the opposite direction; another back ocho; then continue opening while doing two hard-to-describe steps while pivoting to the left; ending with the leader spiralled with the right knee behind the right, while the follower essentially did a medio-giro and ended up kind of crossed in the opposite direction.

It was the sort of sequence that caused my brain to explode the first time around. This time, I could kind of understand most of it in theory, but there wasn’t any prospect of me being able to lead it in the class, and there was absolutely zero chance I was every going to do it in a milonga.

However, we did then try a version where we went straight from a back ocho into the leader pivot. There wasn’t much time left to try this, but I think the principle is sound. That could be a lovely way to end a dance, for example. I’ll aim to play more with that in practicas.

A potentially bigger change of direction

I’m expecting Hamdi and Amy’s version tomorrow to be simpler, so we’ll see, but this really underlines the difficulty I have in figuring out where to go from here in terms of group classes. Most people want sequences, and I absolutely understand giving the market what it wants – but it’s not what I want. Leastways, nothing longer than about three or four steps.

The beginner class would be too soul-destroying to repeat – and possibly even counter-productive. But the improver class is sequence-focused, which isn’t what I want. The intermediate class looks to have some great technique exercises, but that then leads into even more complicated sequences.

My plan to sample improver classes with different schools, and see which one seems to have the least focus on sequences and the most focus on technique, seems to be the best bet for the next stage of my journey.

Which I’m thinking may be soon. I really like the Tango Space teachers; I have some lovely dance partners; and I’ve made a lot of friends through the school. It feels like my tribe. All of which makes it hard to think about moving on. But I can continue to attend the Tuesday milongas. And a number of my fellow students already mix-and-match schools, so there would likely be a few familiar faces elsewhere.

I have one other thought about a potential way forward: more on that when I’ve mulled it over.

Image: Shutterstock

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