Sunday, 13 October 2013

Learning from dancers

It's often said that one of the problems of learning from dancers, especially the older generation, is that although they dance wonderfully they haven't learned how to teach. & it's true. I still think you're better off with them: somewhere along the way what they're doing gets through, and what you've worked to master is yours. 

That's what came to mind after I'd watched the video of Eduardo a number of times. He's fast. He simply can't slow down to show what he's doing because he'd lose the impulse, the momentum, which is what feels right to him. You might feel more comfortable with a trained teacher who would make sure that everything was cut up in bite-sized pieces for you, but you might well be missing the vitality in the food, the vitality that's going to nourish you and your partners long-term. The impetus, the energy. The reason you dance in the first place.

There's one simple solution, slo-mo video. It seemed like a good idea to take a short piece of Patricia Muller's video and slow it down. 


& it works: the basic but effective use of the feet is clear, as is the movement of the torso. But what really came through to me was something I hadn't clearly seen at full speed, the delay on the side step Yvonne takes before her back cross, and the long step after it. Eduardo holds her there a moment so he can match a beat in the music with the emphasis of the back cross, then the energy of the turn carries her across a long side step. & to do this, of course, his feet need to move. 

There's no music playing in this piece, although it feels as if he's singing audibly as he dances. (I'm told he used to, and I've noticed his generation of dancers often sing if they are asked to demonstrate without music.) That pause, a breath, gives both of them the chance to prepare for the back cross, and makes the actual turning much more emphatic without looking rushed. Even if it is fast.

1 comment:

Janis said...

It's a good thing that the remaining milongueros viejos did not learn to dance from teachers or they might all dance the same way without personal styles. They were young and had all time in the world to practice at home. They were motivated to dance well. Learning a language, a dance, or most anything at 12 is easier than learning at 60.

Adults want tango to be easy for them and to learn quickly without practicing. They want to dance like their teachers. A handful of milongueros who teach share what they know after decades in the milongas--those are the best teaching credentials. It's not their job to train a new generation of tango dancers who continue their style. Each dancer has to find his/her own dance inside. That takes time.

What would tango in the milongas be without the example of the milongueros viejos? They learning by watching. That's what adults need to do and follow their example.