Beginner/refresher tango course - session notes

Wednesday, 6 October 2010 at 09:47
After several years of pondering teaching tango professionally, now seems the time to do it. I've already dipped my toes in with the guided practicas I've started running, I have a lovely local venue and hopefully a lot of potential to grow the local scene. Also a little extra money would be very handy right now.

I put together some rough notes for a 4 week course of 4, 90 minute sessions. I'd be very interested to hear any feedback from people who have some experience teaching tango. What ideas or activities work well for you with a new group of beginners? Does the below seem too ambitious for only 4 sessions? Any advice welcome!

Session 1: What is tango? Spirit, origin, music, culture, addiction. Two people connecting through touch and music, a timeless human activity. The embrace (hugging, the frame circle, listening), walking back and forth with connection and rhythm. Walk like this animal game: prowling cat, nervous mouse. Demonstrate the musical richness of ‘just walking’.

Session 2: More on attitude, patience and respect. Getting more balance and comfort in the walk: head above shoulders, above hips, rolling weight, angle of foot, ‘finding the ground’. Role-play in walking: ‘impatient rusher’, ‘indecisive worrier’, ‘seducer’, ‘peaceful zen monk’. ‘There is no wrong foot’ concept. Getting around corners. Rock-step for musical expression and changing direction (also tests frame and connection). Obstacle course game, use rock-step or a simple pivot to ‘steer’.

Session 3: The axis and your core. Ochos, a walk with a zig-zag. Break it down into different shapes or ‘stances’ for leader and follower. Step through the stances and correct posture. Practice drills against a wall. Find your axis between each step. Practice in pairs. Milonga etiquette, line of dance, safe distance. The responsibilities of leading and following. Line of dance and collision avoidance game. Playing with step size. How small can you step?

Session 4: The free leg and following the direction of lead. The cross. ‘A move’ vs. ‘Free leg, following the lead’. Putting the cross into the dance. Show some variations. Refresh ochos, rock-step and pivoting. Introduce the giro: stepping around the corners of a square, disassociation. Balloon exercise. Couple has to keep the balloon between their chests as they do the giro.

I've also thought ahead to future courses. 'core skills 1' below is essentially what I've been teaching in the practicas so far. Had great feedback on it so far.

Tango core skills 1, 4 week course:

Session 1: 3 elements to walking as one (including work on double time and intro to close embrace)

Session 2: stepping with intent.

Session 3: density and dynamics.

Session 4: safe and relaxed tango in confined spaces (more on close embrace).

Tango core skills 2 (requires core skills 1) , 4 week course:

Session 1: free leg, leg wraps, planeos, linear boleos, circular boleos

Session 2: leg invasions, ganchos and secardas

Session 3: shared axis, volcardas and colgadas

Session 4: playing with symmetry and asymmetry in form and timing (including breaking the embrace)

Further tango skills, 4 week course:

Session 1: Enrosques, turning and spinning.

Session 2: Back secardas and over-turned secardas.

Session 3: Gancho and secarda chains.

Session 4: Aerial movements.


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