Day two, and time for a tune-up with Laura Heredia

My post-Feast tango famine had left me feeling a little rusty, so I’d booked a private with Laura for the second day of my stay, to work on my technique before I hit the first milonga.

I’ve been incredibly lucky with my teachers. For me, a great teacher needs the ability to combine three very different qualities …

First, a supportive and understanding nature – realising that it’s important to tell students what they’re getting right as well as what they’re getting wrong. Second, keen observation/kinaesthetic awareness skills, to provide precise feedback. Third, the ability to explain things clearly, in a way that makes sense. Laura definitely has all three qualities in abundance.

I didn’t have any agenda for the lesson, just told Laura I wanted to tune my technique as much as possible. I’d asked her for a 90-minute lesson, but we had to cut it short at an hour, because she was too good! The amount of input she was giving me meant that any more would have made my brain explode.

We worked mostly on leading from my spine, and it was a truly amazing lesson!

There are times when a teacher has given me something so important that I’m not fully sure they realised what a huge deal it was. This was one of those times. Laura was having me use a spine lead to change her weight without changing mine, and something just clicked, and suddenly not just that but other aspects of the lead made sense to me in a way they hadn’t before – like slow crosses. It honestly felt like I’d just jumped a level in my tango in just one lesson.

We also worked on me giving an earlier signal for ochos. This seems to be one of those things where different teachers have very different ideas about it, but Laura wanted me to signal the upcoming direction with my spine as the very first element of the movement – before even beginning the side-step. I must say this felt really good – especially as we worked on very tiny ochos suitable for use in crowded milongas.

Laura complimented my musicality, my embrace, and the clarity of my lead. Of course, there are some real basics I’m forever working on, and keeping the lead from the torso and keeping my arms relaxed is one of those. Esta es tango.

Laura was encouraging me to use double-time, and refused to be deterred by my making vampire cross signs in her direction, so it seems we will work on this next time …

I will have my chance to put this work into practice in a few hours, at Sans Souci at La Nacional, where Orquesta Típica Misteriosa Buenos Aires are playing live. I can’t wait!

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