Tuesday, 22 November 2016

How 'trying on the shoes' of the other role will make you a better dancer

When we dance tango we aim to connect with our partner closely, so that leader and follower move in harmony. This is possible only when each dancer has a certain understanding and empathy with the other role danced by their partner.

The more you practice your technique the more you discover that as a follower it often helps to be assertive and active in how you communicate with your leader and be in charge of your own step even when you’re accepting an invitation for that step. And that as a leader it often helps to wait and be sensitive and receptive to how your follower is moving, or even to what they are suggesting.

So there is leading in following, and following in leading. In relation to that then, actually learning the other role will have a profound impact on your dancing. Not only will those crucial aspects of one role within the other be realized and strengthened, but those questions many dancers have about how does their partner want them to respond or connect, about what feels good for them in their role, you will begin to understand from direct experience and the intuition which that gives you.

Naturally the approach to learning the other role is important. Tango can be a challenging dance to learn just the one role in, so it’s understandable that some dancers might worry about getting (even more) confused by trying two roles. The anchor to prevent possible discord from random, involuntary or otherwise role switching, or such like, is simply empathy. The empathy you gain from learning how that feels, from the perspective of your partner’s role (actually if done deliberately and with good rapport it can feel great sometimes).

By focusing your initial efforts of learning the other role on the quality of connection in basic technique (posture, walking, crossing, simple pivoting), you develop a first hand understanding of what the other role is looking for. It’s that understanding that will make things more (not less) clear, when you’re back dancing your usual role in tango.

Perhaps one of the reasons for tango being as challenging as it’s often considered, is putting off learning a little of the other role. Because without that experience, a powerful learning feedback loop is broken. It’s that experience of dancing the other role that closes it. Otherwise tango remains for much longer somewhat like dancing with a mystery black box. Through much expert guidance and experimentation you could learn what inputs should result in what outputs, but how much quicker and further you could go, by opening up that box and learning how it works?

Photo from: https://tangocritica.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/tango-same-sex-pairs-shake-up-world-cup-in-argentina/

A breakdown of the benefits of learning the other role:

  • For followers: Let's say, for example, you're a follower who is unsure of the right amount of presence or resistance to give a leader when walking, and perhaps struggle to keep a smooth, clear connection because of it. By leading some walking yourself you will directly experience how different levels of presence from a follower feel from a leaders’ perspective, and what makes the connection clearer or less clear. Then when you go back to following you'll have a better idea of what will feel good for the leader and you and generally work well. The same principle applies to timing in ochos or crosses, or really any technique. 
  • For Leaders: Let's say you're a leader who finds their followers often lose balance or seem uncomfortable during ochos. By directly experiencing being led in different ways you will feel yourself how a follower wants to be led an ocho and so be able to rapidly improve your own leading of them (while also improving your own balance). Again, the same principle applies to timing in crosses or walking, or really any technique. 
  • For Leader or follower: Or perhaps you worry about only being able to dance relatively few steps and that your partner will get bored with them. By directly experiencing the other role you'll feel how wonderful 'just walking' or doing very simple steps can feel for your partner too if these steps are made with a finely tuned and fluid connection. 
  • For milongas and classes: In many milongas or classes leader/follower numbers are not balanced. Wouldn't it be great if in those cases you could enjoy dancing or practising a little in the other role and avoid sitting out? Many dancers who try this discover a love for other role too, all while getting more dance and practice time in.
  • For practice partners: If when you try to practice you find it hard to give each other informed, constructive and encouraging feedback, it may be due to a lack of understanding and empathy with what is involved in the other role and how each role fits together in a certain movement. By having a little experience in the other role yourself you'll be better able to work constructively and supportively together on your tango.

If you’re wondering how you can get started on learning the other role, well you’re in luck, as I'm running a workshop on just that, on Sat 10th Dec in Southampton :)

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Exciting tango happenings for Apr/May 2016

Hi there,
I hope you had a lovely Easter break! 

The year seems to have flown by so far, but gladly the cold (if not the rain) is flying away with it.

A couple of weeks ago I reflected on 10 years of tango dancing. Following from that, I made a little promo video you may enjoy here: https://youtu.be/VkcEST2ghBQ

On to exciting tango happenings for April and May (and for a new taste of Blues dance, scroll to the end). 

Firstly I'm very happy to announce I'll be teaching two tango workshops on Sat 7th May, at TLC with Tracie. They will be a great opportunity to come and get a little more detail and time to absorb than you would in a group class, on techniques and movements you'll enjoy using in your social dancing. Here are the specifics:

May 7th, 12:30 - 2:30pm - Wraps, ganchos and free leg play

Learn all about how to get the most out of the free leg, for followers and leaders. This workshop delves into how to dance the playful movement of leg wraps, ganchos and more, with confidence, precision and safety. Suitable for all dancers already comfortable with walking, crosses, ochos and giros.

May 7th, 3:00 - 5:00pm - Vals turns and alterations

Dancing to Vals can be a sumptuous, twirling flight. In this workshop we'll explore a variety of particularly delicious turns and alterations, with a detailed breakdown of the follower and leader technique, that will bring more of that feeling to your Vals dancing. Suitable for all dancers already comfortable with walking, crosses, ochos and giros.

Both workshops can be booked now via TLC, and neither require a partner. It's £17 for one, or £30 for both workshops, per person.

Apr 9th - 10th  - Over this weekend I'm running another one of my weekend beginner Argentine tango courses. 2-5:30pm on both Sat & Sun @ The Hut, 2 Reynolds Rd, Shirley. There are still a few places left if you want to come and refresh and refine the very basics (two students did that on the last one and found it very worthwhile), or know any complete beginners who'd like to give tango a go. Here is the info and booking page:

Before that, coming up next weekend, Sat 2nd April there is a Milonga at TLC. 4 DJs and a great crowd. So hopefully see you there! Also, the highly regarded Mabel Rivero is teaching ladies technique workshops @ TLC on 1st and 2nd April, so any ladies who want to do that speak to Tracie now and she'll put you on the reserve list.

For anyone on the Isle of Wight on Sunday 3rd April, I've been invited to run two tango workshops there. See the FB event for details on that and how to book.

Wed group classes. I've been enjoying teaching at TLCs very much since November. It's been great to see so much enthusiasm and also some steady progress over those months from so many students. Over the next couple of months I'll be teaching a series of lessons on the Wednesdays on particular themes.

Wed 6th & 13th Apr @ TLC:
Crazy crosses/Cross city  -  everyone knows how to cross in tango, right? Actually this basic element of tango dancing has a whole world of playful possibilities beyond the staple cross over to the followers right. Come and explore some of them over these 2 weeks.

Wed 4th - 25th Apr @ TLC:
Advanced Giros (using colgadas, sacadas & wraps)  -  what is it that makes the giro a foundation of both basic social dancing and the most impressive tango performances? The giro can be simple and functional, but it can also be meltingly elegant in that simplicity, or expanded into something dazzling and intricate. These 4 lessons will help you find new life and delight in a variety of different giros.

While anyone who might come to the level 4 class on Wed (or feels ready to try) is welcome to drop in to any of the above, to get to most from it, it is recommended to attended the whole of each series of lessons on a theme. Why have only a slice, when you could have the whole pie?

Monday practica. Aside from the regular group classes the Monday practica has been up and running now since Dec, and everyone who comes seems to be getting a lot out of it. If you're serious about progressing in your tango skills, then regular practice (not just milongas and classes) is essential. There's no minimum standard for the practica, everyone is welcome, 8:30 - 10:30+pm @ The Hut, 2 Reynold Rd, Shirley. I'm there, on hand for the whole time to help with anything you might want to practice. If you'd like to come, please join the Practica FB group

Finally on the tango news, I'd like to run a milonga @ the Hut. No fixed date as yet, but I wanted to get your feelings on trying it in such a petite venue. The appeal for me is that small size, and how it can help create a beautiful togetherness and flow between the dancers and the ronda. It can be scary at first, but then you may find the unique charms of a cosy milonga quite enjoyable. That's why it will be called 'Milonga Abrigada'. So, if you're keen or at least curious about the idea of the milonga (maybe once a month at most), please let me know.

Blues dance - here's a chance to try it

Having a general interest in dance, a couple of years ago I stumbled across a variety of Blues style Mo'jive dancing and absolutely loved it, most especially the laid back, smooth grooviness of it, with clear accents of tango. I recently decided it was time to explore it a bit more, and perhaps what else Blues has to offer. Luckily enough it turns out there are some Blues specialists based on the Isle of Wight. Having been in touch with Basil and Mandy for a little while I've invited them to come and teach some Blues workshops in Southampton! The venue is the lovely Friends Meeting House in Southampton.

The first one on Sunday 17th April is aimed mainly at Jive dancers (but is open to everyone). So, if you know any who you think might enjoy some Blues, do let them know!

The second one on Saturday May 28th is aimed at tango dancers (and those who already did the Apr one).

You can find the full detail, more about the teachers and online booking for the Blues workshops here:
17th Apr - http://www.tangolingua.com/workshops/guest-teacher/blues-dance-for-jive-dancers
28th May - http://www.tangolingua.com/workshops/guest-teacher/steal-the-edge-blues-dance
Any queries, just ask.

Happy dancing,

Saturday, 13 February 2016

New beginner's Argentine Tango, weekend course Feb 2016

Would you like to learn how to dance Argentine Tango in a weekend? 

Then this 2 day workshop is for you! Feb 20th - Feb 21st 2016

Argentine Tango is a beautiful, creative dance that can be as playful or sensual as you want to make it.

Tango has many benefits beside the joys of dancing it. It can improve your fitness, balance, confidence and posture, as well as being a great way to meet new people!

friendly expert tuition by Joe Hudson Friendly, expert tuition with Joe Hudson
The Tango Lingua approach is fun and relaxed, and focused on helping your body absorb the technique so you can get on and enjoy the dance. 

If you can walk, then you can tango! All it takes is an interest in learning.

Here's what you'll get from the weekend:
  • Learn the basic tango techniques of walking, the embrace, crosses and ochos.
  • Be introduced to simple elements of musicality and play in the dance.
  • Practice to different types of tango music.
  • Enough experience to go on to regular weekly group classes if you wish, or to dance in a social setting.
  • Lots of fun!

To take part in this weekend, just book your place below.
                    No partner required, although you're welcome to bring one.

tango class 1

tango class 2

Places are strictly limited to 8 maximum, for each weekend, so you get lots of personal teaching attention. That also means to ensure your place you need to book early.

Please book your place(s) with Paypal:

Cost: £48 per person (or £38 for unwaged/low income)

Saturday: 2:00 - 5:30pm
Sunday: 2:00 - 5:30pm

Date: 20th-21st Feb 2016

Venue: "The Hut", 2 Reynolds Road, Southampton, SO15 5GS

                (Go up the drive, and through the gate.) Parking available along the road.

What to wear:
If you have dance shoes, bring those. Otherwise ideally leather or plastic soles, and not too much room at the front. No metal heel, toe or marking soles please. Clothes should be comfortable and easy to move around in.

There will be a short break in the middle of each day for snacks and drink, if you'd like to bring any. 

Any other questions, please get in touch.

Read how other students have enjoyed Tango Lingua courses and teaching here.