Monday, 5 January 2009

Contradicting myself

A counter-example. Although I whinge sometimes about specific moves, and I really do experience them as ‘eww’-some or frightening or tiresome on the whole, the truth is that all of them are all right ...


... you're good at them.

I dance now and then with just one person who does all that stuff, and I have huge fun. I'm never scared, and I don't go “eww”. I do raise an eyebrow sometimes, it's a conversation, but I feel that I'm dancing with him to the music, having an adventure, not acting as a conjourer's assistant or his audience. We do all the gizmos - inside-outs, wacky sacadas, colgadas (which I like anyway, when I remember how to follow them before it's too late), things I shouldn't wear a wraparound dress for, I even remember a lift - it's musical, it's joyous, it's pointful, and it's a hoot. Last time he got away with a leg rub. (Admittedly, I was wearing trousers.)

But those feelings of perfect balance, gentleness, stability, safety, confidence, and play, that he delivers — those make all the difference.

So, I was oversimplifying things. If I'm looking at it from a safe distance, so that I can see all the dancers of all talents and skill levels, I don't really think it's right to whinge about the moves themselves. It isn't their fault.

If I look at it from far enough away.


Jo A said...

The things I love in some people are what I hate in others. It hardly seems fair to them.

ghost said...

"Guns don't kill people, people kill people" - it's a lot easier if you've got a gun though....

As a leader I find it very valuable seeing your perspective. I think it's safer to understand where the pitfalls within a move are so that if I decide to do it anyway, I do so with that knowledge rather than blindly. Knowing how much and in which ways a rule can be bent is important, but first I have to understand the rule.

Hmmm ~ "Moves don't upset Hedgehogs, people upset Hedgehogs" ;o)

Johanna said...

There's always an IF, Ms. H.

From a distance, a lot of things look better than they are :-)

But I like to kick up my heels now and then. It's just a different experience than the Real Deal.

David Bailey said...

I agree with Ghost - the problem is not the moves, it's the people doing them.

However, the reason the people doing them don't do them well, is often because they're taught moves before technique. "Move monsters" don't just come like that out of the box, someone's responsible for teaching them that way.

Probably F******o... :)

msHedgehog said...

@ghost - 'annoy' ;)
@David - it's hard for the teachers. It would be interesting to ask all the women at the end of a class what they thought about it. It would be difficult to get them to answer, though.
@Johanna - I have the same sensation - I think of them as two different dances, both of which I enjoy, but only one of which really has a name. In this case it's almost all in close embrace, so that's not the source of the difference, but the feeling is different. Good, but quite different.

ghost said...


As for women's perspectives on move monsters - having asked a fair few...

It varies a lot from woman to woman. Different people want different things.

Some people prefer to learn specifc patterns - if you're willing to stay in that venue it's not a huge problem. Even less so if you're going to dance as an exclusive couple.

Others get frustrated at the leader focusing primarily on the moves and not the connection, floorcraft etc. (Some might even go so far as to be annoyed...)

Others accept that a leader can probably perform above his level with moves / sequences and they like the thril of following something new / complicated

Others are focussed on learning their own moves (adornments etc) and so are happy to dance with a like-minded person

Others are interested in understanding the moves often asking "How did I do that?", "Could you show me that move again?"

A fair few women who learn to lead are a bit more forgiving of being focussed on moves, or indeed succumb to doing it themselves.

And of course there's the simple question of whether the leader even really cares what the follower's thoughts are on the matter.

Personally I find the demonstration at the end of a lesson fascinating, especially beginners lessons. If they're playing fair, the teacher has limited themselves to maybe three moves, which in a beginner's class may well be just "step" and "pivot". To then dance for a track and still make it look good proclaims "TANGO IS NOT ABOUT MOVES!"

Now where can I do a workshop on flying linear boleos....

David Bailey said...

I fully understand that "moves = money". By and large, teachers who teach moves get more pupils. I used to regularly go to Kicca's Monday technique class at the Dome. £5, for an hour, £8 including practica - practically giving it away. But there were usually low numbers - sometimes only 4-5 of us.

And that was Kicca teaching it, not some randomly-selected numpty.

So I think there's a commercial incentive to teach moves rather than technique. And, let's face it, it's easier to teach moves.

ghost said...

4-5 people?! Is she still teaching?

There was an interesting experiment a few years back. A martial arts teacher took two beginners. One was taught as many clever tricks as possible in a month. The other was taught a couple of basic moves and how to meditate and told to just meditate for an hour each night.

At the end of the month the two students had a sparring match. Guess who won?

The problem is it's counter-intuitive. It makes sense to be taught moves at a tango class, because that's "doing tango".

Add in that a lot of people aren't really that phased about dancing, for them it's much more a social thing with a few toys to collect along the way.

So I guess a teacher has to make up their own mind how they want to make a living. Do you teach "moves moves moves" in class and reserve technique for privates and workshops? Do you teach technique regardless and earn money some other way eg performances? And whichever you chose is going to have a massive effect on your milongas.

I have to say I kinda grateful to the move monsters in one respect in that they keep the industry going which lets me keep dancing tango.

msHedgehog said...

@ghost - you have a point. The teachers I would recommend with the most confidence to someone whose main goal was to dance well (based purely on my own fairly limited adventures), do not, as I believe, have teaching tango as their main source of income. Certainly not their only source of income.

Game Cat said...

Re why "move monsters" exist, I think it can be tempting to heap the blame at the feet of teachers who are out to make a buck....they are after all, at some level, responding to demand. And the consumers of teaching in London are not as clued up on what is "proper" compared to BsAs.

I would guess that in BsAs, since formal teachers emerged after milongas, new students could quickly judge if what they were being taught cuts any ice in a milonga. "Move monster" teachers won't survive because their students would not often be invited to dance (or would be declined).

In London on the other hand, it has been teachers who have had to create demand and drive the growth of the milonga scene. Hence their students, schooled in diverse ways, freely roam milongas displaying whatever they were taught, ignorant of what is "proper". To be fair, it should get better as the dancing population matures and gets wiser.

I'm all for people adapting what they have learnt, innovation and letting tango evolve. I've heard that distinct styles have emerged in China, Finland and elsewhere (the "Parisian style" is part of Modern Ballroom today). One could imagine it happening in London....except that we are very international and probably have considerable influence from BsAs.

And whichever corner of London ends up as BsAs.....I'll be there.

ghost said...

I guess a possible solution is a two tier system at milonga.

On one hand people who just want to learn a few moves and dance socially cheerfully asking and accepting anyone.

On the other the technicians who want something more and need to dance with another technician to experience it, cunningly using cabeceo.

Oh and both groups must of course call each other names...:P