Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Encouragement for beginners

"Am I ready for my first milonga?"

If you have taken a small number of classes and you are asking yourself this question, chances are the answer is Yes, you are as ready as you'll ever be and you might as well try it. if in doubt, you could just go and have a look, even if you don't dance (I can't imagine anyone will mind). You could get together with some other people from your beginners' class and agree that you'll all go. Some teachers who do beginners' courses (including this one) even build it in as part of it after eight weeks or so.

If you like, you can have a look at my other posts on this subject, and other people's (some are linked in mine) to give yourself some reassurance and help about the details and suggestions for what to concentrate your energies on. Hope it helps.

I also don't think you need to announce to anyone that you are a beginner. If you are following and someone has just asked you, whether you are good enough for him is entirely his concern. If you are leading, you can keep it simple, in which case it will be fun anyway and is not a problem. If she hasn't seen you before and isn't willing to take a risk, she can always say no, thanks; if she has a sense of adventure and says yes, then she's willing to dance with YOU and that's the end of it. Either way, you have nothing to apologise for.

But lots of people have lots of opinions (with a lot of overlap but some disagreement) and if you hunt a bit you could easily be overwhelmed with "do's" and "don'ts", especially if you are leading. I think it's easier if you have the adventure early, before working on technique and whatnot starts to feel like a slog. You know you won't be perfect and you won't feel bad about it and nor will anyone else, and you won't even know how to do 90% of the "don'ts", so you're safe there.

You also won't have had time to direct energy into things (like 'ornaments') that there's just no reason to worry about until you feel like it.

I went for my first one when I'd been dancing about eight weeks, and didn't go for my second one till about four weeks later. Then I went every couple of weeks for a while, then every week, and now I go twice in most weeks, which is all I have time for. I got plenty of dances early on that were lots of fun, and the ones that weren't as much fun were still really interesting. And the bad ones, quite few in number, weren't the sort of thing I was likely to let stop me. Now they pretty much all go quite well, which is 50% because I'm better and 50% because different people want to dance with me. Some are really dreamy, but some were pretty dreamy even early on.

I am a pragmatist. I don't think it is about anything except what it is. I think that it is a dance, and is about music and enjoyment and finding out the answer, over time, to "what happens if I do this?" That's because I have the personality and world-view that I do.

If you are an intelligent, curious person you will learn things from anything you are interested in and motivated to work at, and apply them to other aspects of your life. There is nothing special about dancing tango in this respect. You have to find something that interests you, that's all.


David said...

I agree that beginners should start going to milongas as soon as they can.

The dance floor is where all those lessons work their way into the body so that the movements and interactions become familiar and can be used without having to think about the details of how to make them happen.

Once that happens, the more subtle aspects of lessons can be learnt and put into practice on the dance floor.

koolricky said...

I agree with David, the sooner a beginner goes to the dancefloor the sooner he will improve. He just needs to have basic skills. And then, it's all fun!

Alex said...

Yes, it is, after all, just a dance. And it is supposed to be about dancing and having fun - with no pressures - internally nor externally imposed.

I always encourage beginners to go to a milonga even if it is just to watch and see what it's all about.

Even so, there are some beginners that take classes month after month, and we can't get them to go a milonga - for some of them, I think it's about the class itself being the social outlet, and they never intend to actually dance socially. Like a pottery class, or piano lessons.

Mis dos centavos....

msHedgehog said...

Well, I can understand using the class as a social outlet. I enjoy my regular class for itself quite a lot, and I see people there who I rarely see dancing socially. It's more than a means to an end. Social dancing has its own difficulties and requirements.

Alex, are you the teacher, or a fellow student?