Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Things that make you go..... hhuuunnnhhhhh?!?!?

I find it very strange that there seems to be a wave of beginning leaders who want to teach tango. I just don't get it. I heard through the local grapevine of a beginner who started a mere few months ago has aspirations of teaching. He should have aspirations of walking. However he is more interested in figures to alternative music. There is another who wants to "revolutionize tango and infuse it with a new flavor." Direct quote, I was there and heard it. This leader has been dancing less than 6 months and feels one does not need to learn the basics in order to dance or teach tango.... in fact he is very resistant to feedback at practicas, so I have stopped working with him.
*head scratching moment*

I don't get it.

And the most curious thing to me is that these are all leaders. I don't hear any followers saying that they want to teach, but then again, I don't dance much with the women. So that may be a factor..... however there does seem to be some sort of fever that the young leaders have caught to become teachers before they have really begun to understand the dance. I have been asked by a few people when Sorin and I are going to start teaching.... uhm.... we need to keep learning, thank you, we are not at the level of becoming instructors!

Any idea why this happens? This sudden urge to teach when one does not know the subject?? It baffles the mind.....

10 comments:

Caroline said...

They are probably just so excited and inspired by this novelty they know as tango that they want to teach their inspirations to others. Evidently those newbie leaders have never been to Buenos Aires. They would be laughed and scorned off the floor.

David said...

Maybe the followers won't do the movements/figures that these beginner leaders want them to do. So they decide to become teachers to teach the followeres what they should be doing...

Debbi said...

Oh David, David, David.....
I hope you are being sarcastic.....

Alex said...

Hola debbi...

I think it's called "megalomania"...

David said...

Just a little sarcastic... ;-)

Although, some leaders I've spoken to would probably take that attitude and not realise what's wrong with it!

It is interesting that you've noticed that it's mainly beginner men that want to teach.

I do remember when I started to learn different figures and found myself able to duplicate them with a variety of different partners thinking that I hadn't much more to learn. Maybe these wannabe teachers have reached that stage?

Then I started to notice the subtleties of the connection and felt that I was even more of a beginner than when I started... Now, I'm resigned to the fact that I am a lifelong beginner as the learning will continue for as long as I dance tango. And it's so much fun with such a variety of partners, music, moods, environments...

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I leave a comment here, but I've been a loyal reader to your blog...;) Anyways, back to the subject, when I was a beginner, I was also a victim of one of those beginner leaders who would incessantly teach on the dance floor. That leader even told me that my arms should be as rigid as "steel" to be a good follower! And even worse, I believed it! Later when I met my current professional teacher, he had such a hard time to fix my arms which were as rigid as steel, and I think it took almost half a year to fix them completely. I later found that that leader himself was a beginner who thought he knew everything just because he could imitate the figures on the YouTube videos, and I stopped dancing with him when his embrace (which was also as rigid as rocks) knocked me over off my balance one day on the dance floor, but I still see him trying to teach beginner followers how to do the colgadas on the dance floor, and I can't stop laughing...:)

Gustavo said...

It really is bizarre, isn't it? I have also seen women teaching who shouldn't be doing it either because they're beginners or they just don't dance well enough. I can think of several people in the NY and Connecticut scenes, both men and women, who dance rather poorly and are teaching. When I started teaching in Argentina I had been dancing for over two years, and I only started teaching because a friend asked me to (and was quite insistent about it). And I'm talking about 2 years in Argentina, where the levels are waaay higher in general, and I was going to milonguear several times a week, taking as many lessons as I could afford and constantly asking for feedback from more experienced dancers. Now I have decided to stop teaching; you can't really make much money from it here in the U.S., and there are lots of unqualified people doing it which I find quite discouraging.

Oh well...

About the arm thing: It is important for a good dancer to have a solid frame,but from that to calling it "steel"... ridiculous. Alex Krebs said something during the Yale Tango Fest about "the follower giving much as much pressure as she gets from the leader".

Alex Krebs=Total Genius

Gustavo said...

uhm, sorry I meant "giving back as much pressure"

Irene Ho said...

Dear Debbi,

I really agree with you on this one. Toronto has been having a particularly bad plague recently of underqualified instructors. It seems that one beginner leader will get on a power trip when he realizes that he finally he has power to "manipulate a woman to do his bidding on the dance floor" (so to speak) and decide that he should not limit his "vast knowledge of tango and superior talent" with just teaching on the dance floor to his partners. Before you know it, other underqualified leaders (perhaps they have been dancing for a little bit longer than the first guy, or perhaps they know five more steps) will be jealous of the newly minted leader and start billing themselves as teachers too. Then, some other mediocre "veterans" will see this and get jealous themselves and start teaching. Like lemmings jumping off a cliff, it's like a cascade effect! Someone has remarked to me that in Toronto, the ratio of "instructors" to dancers is like 2 to 1!
I like David's comment that he is a "lifelong beginner", because that's exactly how Man Yung and I feel. I'm glad also that you and Sorin have been resisting the temptation! I think that in order to become good tango dancers, one has to have a little bit of humility - no matter how advanced we feel we are in our own tango communities, we are "nothing" compared with the pros in Buenos Aires, who are in turn "nothing" compared to the milongueros twenty years ago, fifty years ago, etc. I wish that all these wannabe instructors will have a little bit more perspective, please!
Thanks Debbi for your wonderful blog, I really enjoy reading about your tango journey - you write with such warmth, humour and attention to details. Cheers.

tangobaby said...

Wow, I guess we are luckier out here with our selection of teachers. I can't think of anyone that I know who is teaching and does not have several solid years of experience here.

I would think that these new teachers would not attract too many students, or that the students would catch on at some point. One hopes...