Too Much Talking

The most important aspects of Tango were learned while listening, not while dancing.

A common complaint from Tango students around the world seems to be this: “There was too much talking and not enough dancing.”  During group lessons and private lessons, people just want to dance.  We get it.  However, we also think it’s safe to say that the same people who complain about too much talking are also the same people who are fixated on steps.

The most important aspects of Tango were learned while listening, not while dancing.

Graciela Gonzalez teaches an incredible workshop for LEADERS.  She is well known for her workshop for followers, but the one for leaders is quite special.  There are opportunities to practice the concepts taught, but it is the explanation of these concepts (hence a lot of talking) that are the most important.

Our most dramatic Tango-changing moments happened when teachers in Buenos Aires were TALKING and explaining the concepts, history, or culture of Tango to us.  That’s not to say changes didn’t occur while dancing and practicing, but the biggest changes… those happened while LISTENING. Unfortunately, people see classes as the only place to practice.  Instead students should learn/understand the concepts (listening), try the concepts (a bit of practicing), practice the concepts (in a practica), and finally embody those concepts (in a milonga).

About Movement Invites Movement

We are relatively young Argentine Tango dancers and teachers who are married both to each other and the dance. We truly found Tango after making an 8-month Tango pilgrimage to Buenos Aires and we are using this blog to share our thoughts and feelings about our Tango experiences. We are not aspiring authors and our writing skills are questionable, but we write our truth. View all posts by Movement Invites Movement

5 responses to “Too Much Talking

  • simbatango


    This has been my experience, too. Sometimes the right information at the right time makes a huge impact. At times instantly. One the best private lessons I ever took was basically coaching (lots of talking), but it transformed my dancing.

    It is common to see people discuss what teachers should do differently (to remove all effort on part of the student?), not so much how the attitude of the student affects the results.

    • movementinvitesmovement

      Thanks Simba.

      Our best privates were also the ones with a lot of talking. Plus we’ve also realized that we’re both the type of students who listen, nod, and then get to it. We take it all in and do as we’re told. This is where we really thank our backgrounds in “strict” dances like Ballet and Ballroom where you’re expected to respect your teachers and believe what they tell you :)

  • yabotil

    I agree – I love listening to the stories that milongueros share. Unfortunately not many of them make it to London and I have to listen second hand through people who’ve learnt from them or find resources on the internet.

    Tango is more than just the moves taught in class, one has to understand the meaning and stories behind what we see in order to really get tango.

  • tangobora

    Completely agree with the last post. There is so much more to tango than steps and technique – you have to understand the stories, the music, and the codes. However, different people learn differently. I don’t have a professional dance background so I don’t necessarily understand something by watching or having it be explained theoretically. I want the teacher to explain to me the mechanics of the movement WHILE I’m practicing it so the information can travel to my body instead of being stuck in my head. I’ll actually write about this in my next post – would be keen to hear your thoughts.

    • movementinvitesmovement

      Thanks for writing TB. It is very true that practicing the concepts taught is an integral part of learning. Interestingly, we found that some of the most profound learning and change that occurred to our dance took place when we didn’t dance much. After learning intensively for 6 months in Buenos Aires, we traveled for 4 months and weren’t able to dance very much. When we returned to Bs.As. after those 4 months, all the concepts and ideas we had learned during the first 6 months had the time to sink in while we were NOT dancing. However, one of the important parts of not dancing was that we were finally able to shed many of the underlying bad habits we had originally learned before Bs.As. When we were dancing every day, we could put into practice many of the new concepts, but we simply couldn’t eliminate those bad habits.

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