We teach our students to express the dance through their own bodies and to also be partners who listen and respond. We are interested in how an individual’s expressions can be communicated. Within a pair we are always looking to find mutuality and respect without compromising the independence of both parties. Because of our philosophy our teaching is more movement oriented than focused on the repertoire. We believe that this is a more effective – and fun! – way to learn the tango. Communication, and testing of our boundaries, comfort and independence, are all important parts of developing relationships with other people – no matter if it is a random acquaintance on a dance floor, our spouse, a friend or a child.
Movement and communication
For us, the tango is primarily a way to communicate movement. At a fundamental level we are interested in being able to follow the path from the initial impulse communicated by the man/leader to how that impulse is received and expressed in the movement of the woman/follower. At a more advanced level, we strive to act as one body in unison. More specifically:
We believe that a tango movement always starts as a proposal from the man/leader rather than an order. The woman’s task is not to submissively follow the proposal but to independently find an expression that works with the initiated movement. As the couple moves this way, the man/leader will become the follower for a few moments while he listens to her expression and then gives a new suggestion to continue the movement. For us, this is a fundamental way to understand tango. For many other dancers tango is something where the man is utterly dominant. We believe that is an excuse for mediocre technique. We are promoting a tango that is more playful and allows us to take communication to even higher levels. Tango can be about more than just leading and following. We can’t escape the fact that the man calls the shots on where to move, but those directions and repertoire are secondary to the qualities with which we move. The primary task for both dancers is to give expression to the dance. When this is accomplished it becomes unclear who is leading whom. It is as if the energy of movement is leading us. It is as if we are two sentient bodies that follow the greater power of the music and movements.
Quality rather than repertoire
There are plenty of teachers who just teach repertoire. We believe by focusing on the qualities of movement and communication we develop tools to actually create and understand the repertoire. We also think that this model is far more rewarding for students because they can take our methods and use them to continue in their own journey of discovery through tango and movement.
Our goal is to provide tools that every dancer can use to become their own teachers. To achieve this we deconstruct tango technique into small principles and components. We believe that it is good for everyone – regardless of level – to be aware of these fundamental aspects of the tango (many advanced dancers have attended our beginner’s courses, and they have often been surprised with what we have been able to teach them). We then teach how these technical aspects can be used to build a repertoire that progressively becomes more difficult.
Men, women, leaders, followers can all find enjoyment and something to learn from our courses. The building blocks of technique and communication will always come first, then the repertoire. In our classes the woman/follower is never just the man/leader’s test subject for trying out a new repertoire. Both partners will always have challenges in the dance that they will need to solve together.