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October 29, 2007

More on Levels

Sorin's Review of the NY Tango Festival (Oct 2007) expresses frustration with beginners who enroll themselves in advanced classes.

Group classes - My frustration with group classes was renewed. Unless one goes with a partner, it's a complete waste of time. There were people in the advanced class that could not lead or follow the cross. So, for whoever reads this, taking a group class significantly above your level is not only a waste of your money and time, it's also a waste of money and time for whoever is unlucky enough to be partnered with you. I wish teachers would have enough balls to kick people out of the class if they are not at the level required.

Well stated, Sorin. I have been at festivals where the festival hosts put you into one of three groups, based on what they knew about you. You had to stay in your group and rotate with your cohort into each teacher's class. Some people rebelled against this and jumped into another group, which caused some problems in gender balance. For the most part, I thought that I was in the right level for me. Also, teachers do not have to teach in such levels as "beginner" and "advanced". The teachers could give something for everyone. It's the participants who want to have 'advanced' classes, which seems pointless given the way that beginners overestimate themselves and underestimate the tango. Even dancers of 3-5 years experience often underestimate the tango.

Posted by joegrohens at 07:39 PM

October 24, 2007

The line of the S

Brassai, Conversations with Picasso, excerpt

Among all the letters of the alphabet, the capital S is the most graceful.

"And what other movement determines the S line? Its aesthetic efficacity has long been noted by artists; the great English painter Hogarth, in his Analysis of Beauty, even extols it as the most perfect line, calling it the 'Line of Beauty.' In the engravings that illustrate his book, which he himself did, he shows multiple examples of its success, in the forms of the human body, in those of a flower, in the felicitous fall of a drape, or in the outline of a piece of furniture" (René Huygue, La puissance de l'image).

S is the shape of the ocho. Flip an S and superimpose it on another S, and you have 8.

Posted by joegrohens at 06:38 PM

October 23, 2007

Utopia by Juan Carlos Caceres

Juan Carlos Caceres has a new album out.

Listen to: UTOPIA MP3 samples

Posted by joegrohens at 12:33 PM

October 07, 2007

Tango Art by Roberto Scadutto

Paintings, Engravings, Commentaries by Roberto Scadutto. "Tango Que Me Hiciste Bien" (Tango that you did to me well)

Posted by joegrohens at 09:59 PM

October 01, 2007

Levels in Tango Workshops and Classes

Following tango workshops I frequently hear women say that the guys weren't "ready" for the level of class they were in. I can understand the frustration, because in a class the women are at the mercy of the men in a way.

On the other hand, it often happens that these very same women who are complaining have put themselves in an intermediate or advanced class when they themselves are also beginners. It's no excuse that the men did the same thing, but women who have sufficient experience will know enough to work effectively with the men in a workshop at higher levels. One of the young women who went to a national festival in August told me in detail about the low abilities of the men in the intermediate and advanced classes. But she herself started learning tango last Spring. I said, but, why were you not in the beginner classes? She said she thought the men would have been even worse on those classes. It makes sense that you will progress more if you are practicing with someone better than you. But it is very difficult to build good tango skills and concepts when you skip over the fundamentals, impatiently going for the more difficult material, the fancier movements, the styling, etc. When I study with ANY teacher for the first time, I take his or her beginning classes. One finds the most detailed explanations of that teacher's personal technique philosophy in the foundation classes. And everyone is brought up to speed together. One learns a lot. Whereas it is possible to come away with nothing when taking a class above your level, because if you can't experience it in the class you can't retain it.

Another think that I see is that men need to have someone to practice with. Otherwise they won't learn anything. As soon as women start to get good they avoid classes and just take privates or the occasional workshop. From the woman's point of view it may possibly be the right thing for her development. But it doesn't help to grow the men so that we end up with a nice community of dancers. Maybe men need to practice with each other until they are good, like in the old days.

When I practice doing the woman's part, I don't mind practicing with men who don't know what they are doing, because together we can usually figure out what they and I both need to do (tactfully). But I really dislike practicing with guys who think they know what they are doing when they really don't. They tell me what to do and blame me for not doing things right. They talk rather than lead. That's hell. I would expect that women should feel the same way - enjoy practicing with men who are "learning" and not enjoy men who tell them what to do despite the man's ignorance. But that doesn't seem to be the case. Women often only want to practice with the best dancers. And maybe that's because the men dominate them and abuse/hurt them in practice situations.

Everyone is in the game to enjoy dancing, and there should be a way for beginners and advanced dancers to practice together with mutual enjoyment.

I personally think that dancers of all levels should take the same classes together and practice together, and the teacher should have material in every class that is suitable for beginners as well as advanced. That's how I try to teach (but people don't seem to like it). I guess people feel that they need to be socially promoted and don't like being in a class with less experienced dancers... as if they are being held back from learning things. Sometimes that can happen, I guess, but I think that everyone needs to help pull each other up.

Posted by joegrohens at 11:22 AM | Comments (0)