I have a one-thing-at-a-time mentality when it comes to, well, most things, actually. When it comes to learning tango, my theory was to stick with one figure until I felt I had a reasonably good beginner’s version of it – and only then move on to something else.
But in line with my determination to ‘be more ocho,’ instead of insisting doggedly that we stick to the ocho, I left it to Mariano to decide how we spent today’s lesson. Which turned out to be a practical demonstration of how, in tango, everything is connected to everything else …
Continue reading All my life’s a circle
Another Saturday, another beginner’s group lesson at Tango Garden. Except today, a family emergency meant the teacher was unavailable. What was available was a class for ‘beginners+,’ a small but significant suffix I’d most definitely not yet earned.
But I was there, and Maral and Mariano seemed confident no-one would die. The goal, for those legitimately in possession of a plus sign, was a sequence of steps I couldn’t even hope to accurately describe, let alone imitate. Feet flashed and bodies whirled. It looked like an Olympic dressage event while I’d gone there for a seaside donkey ride …
Continue reading Being More Ocho
I throw myself into things. Between lessons, daily practice … books … blogs … videos. Why Tango. Tango & Chaos. Twelve Minutes of Love.
They give me a feel for the passion and romance. But also show me a world so far removed from my seven-lessons-in walk that it seems a crazy, absurd, impossible idea that I could ever aspire to set foot in a milonga in Buenos Aires, that year-away-goal designed to inspire and propel me forward …
Continue reading Tango crash
Yeah, I know it means why rather than where, but I never let facts stand in the way of a cheesy title.
One word. One move. You’d think one lesson might be enough to get me to the point where I could produce something which might bear a rough approximation to an ocho if viewed from a distance on a dark and foggy night. But no …
Continue reading Ocho, ocho, wherefore art thou ocho?
A recent experience made me appreciate just how much is involved in a great teacher-student relationship.
It starts with compatible goals. A student who collects moves in much the way a philatelist collects stamps will need a different teacher from one who wants to achieve a certain level of proficiency with one move before embarking upon another …
Continue reading The right teacher for the right time
Judging progress can be difficult. People talk about a kind of zig-zag in tango. One lesson, everything clicks and is perfect and you feel you’re doing fabulously. The next, everything feels terrible and nothing works and you feel you’re a lost cause.
I’ve been doing pilates for only a little longer than tango, and there it feels even harder to see progression. Maybe an exercise feels a little smoother here and there, but mostly I rely on our teacher’s assessment.
But every now and then …
I can balance really well on a bicycle or motorcycle: I often used to win ‘slow races,’ which are all about balance. But I’ve never had great balance when standing on one foot. I generally carry out a site survey and formal risk assessment before putting on a sock. I knew I’d have to improve my balance for tango, so asked our pilates teacher for one lesson focused on that.
Aside from standing on a balance board for a while, it didn’t feel like much of the lesson was overtly geared to that, and trying a balance ball at home afterwards, I could see and feel no visible progress. Steph was able to stand on it doing a fine impression of a rock; I looked rather more akin to a yacht being tossed around the ocean in a force ten gale.
But side-steps in my next lesson did feel more solid. And putting on my sock the next day, I discovered something amazing: I was able to stand, almost perfectly still, on either leg! When I got back on the balance ball, I was almost stationary on that too.
I could even follow Steph’s lead into a yoga move, lifting the other leg up and alternating between holding it in front of, and behind, me. That’s something I could never have imagined would happen so quickly. I was so surprised I almost fell over.
A tango dancing friend protested I was having it all too easy. Private lessons and a highly experienced follower on tap. Not like in her day, when you had to (tango) walk 43 miles through the snow in your bare feet, listening to scratchy music through a crystal radio with a broom for a dance partner …
Continue reading My first dance