No one can teach you what you already know. Others can help you develop and uncover and nurture what you already know, but I would say that is slightly different than “teaching.” Teachers do both: Teach and uncover. The best teachers know where one starts and the other ends. They look for “talent” (latent abilities) rather than mostly focusing on every little error that a person may make.
So it is with dance. If “dancing” means “to respond bodily to music.” No one can teach you to dance because you already were born with that hardwired to your humanity. The same is true of being the speaking animal. No one has truly “taught” you to speak–to communicate your feeling and desires. You were born to dance and speak as the human animal. It is too late to teach children to speak or dance at grammar school. They already can without the “benefit” of education. Those who are the best teacher-guides know (or at least intuit) that their role is to co-discover (the external world) and co-uncover (the internal world) of these primary human talents of dance and speech.
Was your first school a learn-to-speak school or a “grammar school?” Syntactic structures and vocabulary are important, but your language-rich environment had already uncovered the language-animal you naturally are. So it is with your tangrammer school. Too late! You already knew how to dance. Start there, and it will change the method from “teaching” to discovering and uncovering the internal talents of the student.
Even the best teacher unwittingly hinders to some degree their disciples’ learning process. Certain teaching methods that aid one student may hinder another. This is why the wise teacher-guide will attempt to co-discover and co-uncover with you. The great teacher actually learns more in a didactic interaction than you do, just as a parent can learn more while reading a book to a 5-year old than the child! Socrates learned more than the student during his Socratic method of questioning. This is the a hallmark of a great teacher–one who learns more than the student in every interaction. The poet Mark Van Doren, a legendary professor at Columbia University, said, “The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery.”
Try this: Put on music and watch the infant or small child move! Now, go home and in private, put on the music and let your inner child move. Even as the youngest homo sapiens, infants are somatically responding to music stimuli shortly after birth. Other animals on our planet do not respond in this way. What a shame we down-play this important central fact of our humanity as we grow older and at times claim to have grown “two left feet.”
The Role of the “Teacher”
So if we uncover rather than teach certain things like speech, dance and higher function reasoning, then what is the teacher’s role? Mentor and guide! Well, how about uncovering unique talents in the student! But mostly be in awe and . .
Get the hell out of the way!
My recommendation for teachers is that they aid the process of discovering (externalized and modeled behavior) and aid in uncovering internal, unique musical responses from the student’s body. If the body is breathing, but the person does not have a pulse, what do we do? Revive! So it is with a body which is breathing but not responding to music. CPR. Put on some music: Canaro-
Learning to Uncover what already is there
I have raised two sons to be bilingual. For a good part of their language learning at first I was their only source to English. There was no English on television, and we had no neighborhood kids who spoke English. Just me. Although they are now fluent in English, I can tell you that I did not teach them English. For that matter, nor did I create in them the desire to breathe, to satisfy hunger or to quench thirst. They were born with these innate abilities. I exposed them to English. I exposed them to music and dance. I also sent them to grammar schools, music and dance schools, but that did not make them the unique animals-who-speak-make-music-and-dance. No school gave my youngest perfect pitch. All these things are not taught but uncovered and guided.
Go to school
Just because you have natural talents does not mean that you do not need to go to school. But now that you are an adult, chose well which tangrammar school you will attend. Find an artful tango grammar teacher. Cherish the forms that you are learning and the syntax of how these graceful movements describe the language of tango at your tangrammar school.
But learn dance?
That is up to you and your co-discoverers and co-uncoverers to learn together within the language of tango. It is up to you to let the music in and transform even the way you think and feel and move.
If you have found a great tangrammar teacher, then you have found something rare and precious. A great teacher knows that you are the precious paint and palette of their artform.
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