Tango learners seem to have a hard time picking the appropriate classes to attend – especially here in Buenos Aires. Our egos like to get in the way. Besides what we think is an obvious fact that students are of different levels (even in this elusive dance), classes are most definitely being taught to different leveled learners.
Learners are often too caught up in wanting to learn new moves that they fail to realize they are not at a level to learn such things. Here is what we have observed the levels to mean (specifically in Buenos Aires):
Beginner Class: There is a focus on learning to walk, pivot, disassociate, and listen to the music. Very basic sequences are taught. The pace of the class is very slow, but appropriate for the Beginner Learner.
Beginner Learner: This person is still learning how to walk with and without a partner, how to maintain their own axis, how to follow or lead at a basic level, how to maintain their posture, and dance with the music. This learner needs movements/steps broken down for them and needs a lot of time to put movements to use. The Beginner Learner may have just started Tango or (as is often the case) may have been learning for years.
Intermediate Class: There is a focus on more in-depth technique for the walk, pivots, disassociation, and turns. An intermediate level sequence is taught that incorporates these techniques. The class moves ahead more quickly than a beginner class and is easily held back by Beginner Learners. Sequences are shown up to 10 times with the movements broken down only slightly.
Intermediate Learner: This person can apply most of the basic techniques for the walk, pivots, and turns. This learner still has problems following lightly and leading clearly, and maintaining their axis and posture. Some time is needed to watch the sequence before attempting to replicate it.
Advanced Class: The pace of the class is generally very quick. Sequences are shown 3-5 times and are not broken down. Only trouble spots are dealt with after learners have attempted the movements on their own first. Sequences are then built upon as learners accomplish each section. Teachers help with more advanced concepts such as disassociation during enrosques, maximizing posture, and maximizing musical expression. Intermediate Learners in this class will often have great difficulty replicating the sequence and will slow down the class if they demand attention from the teacher.
Advanced Learners: This leader can replicate a taught sequence after seeing it 3-5 times. He is able to somewhat clearly lead the follower in this sequence on the first few tries. This follower does not spend any time trying to learn the sequence, but rather, focuses on watching the technique of the female teacher. She is able to follow what is lead while maintaining her posture and axis.
All Levels Class: There is a focus on basic concepts that learners of all levels can benefit from. A good All Levels teacher is able to give more in-depth advice on technique and more complex modifications of the taught sequence to the more advanced learner.
Although the idea of the Advanced Learner still going to a Beginner Class seems like a wonderful idea, the truth is the pace of the class is enough to have the Advanced Learner pulling their hair out. There are excellent classes and practicas here in Buenos Aires that are perfectly suited for more Advanced Learners wanting to focus on basic concepts and technique.