Mash, Chris of England, Trini of Pittsburgh, Keith of Hong Kong, Andrew SZYMAÑSKI, e-mail discussion, July 20, 2007
I saw the most interesting thing last Friday at class. I was dancing with a woman who had been doing about a month less they I have. We danced together as the average 2 month educated, twice a week dancers would. There was some skill but still a little awkward, unbalanced and missing fluidity at times. But when the teacher danced with her she looked like she had been dancing for a year. It was the fact that he knew how to lift and shift her weight. It was him guiding her and letting her body follow, to be completely honest she looked like she was hardly doing anything to taxing herself.
I came away with mixed emotions, one being surprised about how much the man does actually control and two, feeling a little ego bruised. They fact that she danced pretty badly with me, but danced incredibly with him was a bit of a shock. I took it very personally. I wonder though and I don't mean to offend anyone with this. But from seeing this I think that women appear to progress quicker then men because they are lead. I mean you could take a complete novice and get her to do a beautiful ocho just by leading it well. You can't take a complete novice and get him to lead a beautiful ocho.
> a woman .... the average 2 month educated, twice a week ...
> It was him guiding her and letting her body follow, to be completely
> honest she looked like she was hardly doing anything to taxing herself.
'Mash, that's real tango.
> They fact that she danced pretty badly with me, but danced incredibly
> with him was a bit of a shock. I took it very personally.
"Very personally" is absolutely the best way of taking it. Well done.
> from seeing this I think that women appear to progress quicker then men
The idea that it's due to her faster progress is an illusion created by the class teaching model. The real cause is that the woman is much further along the path before even the first lesson. That's because this dance is made to use what she's already got.
> I mean you could take a complete novice and get her to do a beautiful
> ocho just by leading it well.
In my opinion this is the most important realization of any guy's tango education. It totally changes his understanding of the dance and his approach to learning it.
You're fortunate to have got it in just a few weeks. And that's not down to luck. That's down to something /you've/ already got.
Go with it!
Cacho Dante says, "Guys, to dance tango, you must listen to the heart of the woman"
Trini, here. Cut yourself some slack. While you're still learning vocabulary, you're not going to be able to focus as much on listening to your partner. That's why your teacher made your partner look so good - he doesn't need to think about the steps and can just focus on her. With practice the same thing will happen with you. Just take a beginning woman with 0 months experience for a simple walk onto the dance floor and you'll see.
You're right about women progressing more quickly because they are danced with by guys who already know what they are doing. But beginning guys can also progress more quickly by dancing with women who really know what they are doing. It is hard for beginners to work with other beginners. When tango was at its peak, beginners learned with experienced dancers (mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, etc.), not with other beginners. This is why there is so much debate about how to teach tango to beginners en masse. It's relatively new territory.
So I would encourage you to ask good women dancers to dance. And if you've only been dancing for 2 months, many women dancers will be inclined to say yes. Take advantage of this "honeymoon" period! I often prefer dancing with a beginner with a limited vocabulary than someone who's trying these fancy steps because he's with an experienced dancer. You can always ask your teacher which women are likely to say yes to you. If you ask a woman, and she says no, don't take it personally. At your level, chances are her saying no has nothing to do with you. (But I wouldn't recommend asking at a festival.)
A really good tanguera can make you feel as if you can do anything. You'll find yourself to be less clumsy, more fluid, and, perhaps, even more inspired. With a good tanguera, even a novice can be inspired to lead an ocho or imitate what he sees on the dance floor.
Don't listen too much to what people tell you. You've seen the truth with your own 2 eyes and no amount of rationalization can change it. You're right - at beginner level, Tango is much easier for women than men because the man leads. Yes, I can easily lead a woman after an 8-week beginner course and make her look and feel great. My partner, who's a much better dancer than me, can't do the same thing with the men. You just have to accept that it's going to take you a lot longer and you're going to have to work a lot harder than the women to reach the same level. And don't take it personally - it's just the nature of the dance and every guy goes what you're going through now.
Do not be discouraged by anything. With practice, guys, you are going to get it ! And the most important thing on your way is Persistence.