What Makes a Good (Tango) Student?

Taking Gabriel Missé’s workshops allowed us to make some observations about ourselves in the role of student.  We compared these observations to our own students, as well as to students we’ve seen in other teachers’ classes. This is what we realized:

When we take someone’s class, it means we’re there to respect the teacher. We become blank slates, we believe the teacher knows best, and we do as we’re asked. We push ourselves hard. We listen while the teacher speaks. And we ONLY work on what a teacher has asked us to work on. Perhaps this is one of the major reasons why after almost 4 hours of lessons with Gabriel Missé and Analía Centurión, we were (more or less) dancing in their style and using their technique. That’s not a pat on our backs. Rather, it’s a thought to you, the reader, to ask yourself what you do to better your dance when:

A) You struggle with body awareness

This isn’t an insult.  This is a fact for many people. You are struggling with body awareness when you are constantly being given the same corrections from every teacher you take a lesson from (or even from one single teacher). In the same way you might work on technique, body awareness is a skill that needs to be developed and (re)learned.

B) You learn from many different teachers

There is an issue when specific techniques you use come from different teachers and you are not working on only one specific set of techniques. Mixing and matching is dangerous in Tango. Every teacher you take a class from will try to correct the other teacher’s technique you have (unless their focus in on figures/sequences or they have a complete lack of desire to see your dance improve). With that said, we have observed teachers who choose to avoid “wasting” their energy on a student until they see that the student has a genuine interest in learning from them.

C) You believe you are the best judge of your Tango.

Do you argue with the teacher?  When a teacher asks you to do something, do you say, “I am doing that!” or “I can’t!”? Do you claim to prefer doing something a certain way? If you answer “yes” to any of these, then you believe you know best and we believe this will hinder your ability to improve.

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

6 responses to “What Makes a Good (Tango) Student?

  • tangocherie

    Good points!

    <>

    And that’s why students should only take lessons from teachers whose style they admire. If you don’t like the way they dance, why learn from them?

    After students have a technique and know how they want to dance, then they can work on developing their own style.

  • judiebe

    As a beginner I struggle with point A. a lot. In fact one of my reasons for studying tango is to achieve a higher degree of body awareness. It’s working. . . but still a constant challenge for me.

    I totally agree with point B. In my area, it’s common to hear things like, “I will just take what I like from each teacher’s approach and make my own tango.” I don’t think that’s the right approach for a student. It’s confusing and it reflects something (not so good) about our culture’s view of the teacher/student relationship and learning in general.

    When I first discovered Argentine tango, I wanted to take everyone’s classes so I could be tango dancing as much as possible! A natural enough reaction, I’m sure. But I came to realize that it is better to identify the kind of dancing one likes and to study with the teachers/dancers who practice that style.

  • Steffen Kahr Pedersen

    A good student leaves her/his ego at the entrance to the class room :)

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