Promoting Tango Comment | Story | 19/04/2018 | Views 1163
I haven’t noticed this problem with my students, but I certainly notice it frequently elsewhere. When I was doing my apprenticeship as tango instructor I had in my care 3 professional musicians. They admitted more than once that they didn’t listen to the music because they were constantly concentrating on their steps. They have been doing tango for a few weeks. This was some 25 years ago & got me thinking. After a few years, including courses in Anatomy & Physiology &c, I realised that if you start your beginners by teaching them step sequences [Salida &c] they will eventually and quite quickly develop a reflex which makes them ignore the music: the brain is wired in such a way that it cannot process new data in different fields at the same time, & develops reflexes that deal with that; these reflexes then become almost irredeemably permanent. In tango the music guides the improvised movement, it is at the forefront, before movement. So I devised a method for my beginners to move according to this principle, before any actual dancing takes place. They simply have to walk individually to the music, with no ornamentation allowed, but expressing in their walking the feeling [not the beat, that’s too moronic] of the music. Best for this is Verano porteno because it’s long enough [6 min] to get them accustomed to the approach, and then contrasted with Golden Age stuff [more difficult]. But it doesn’t have to be tango music, as long as it has different moods, variable tempi & intensities & voices, forcing the brain to pay attention. “Bella figlia dell’amore” [Rigoletto] is another good example. This only needs to take place at the beginning of the first few lessons, about 15min each time, to ensure that the ears of the novices don’t get blocked for good. After this intro, the basics of the dancing can be worked on, usually in silence, to develop extended proprioception, eventually bringing the music back in towards the end of the lesson. The reason most tango dancers don’t follow the music is because they have been initially taught steps, with D’Arienzo plinky plonking in the background, thereby consolidating this numbing reflex.
Dance Teacher, Musician, Social Dancer from in UK