Argentine Tango School

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi at our virtual intermediate class.

Why private lessons are the most effective way to learn Argentine Tango?

Why private lessons are the most effective way to learn Argentine Tango?

Argentine Tango feet at Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires _ Argentine Tango School

I had a nice conversation with a participant of an Argentine Tango event in the San Francisco Bay Area.

We talked about her sensations after taking many workshops and learning many movements and techniques.

She told me that only one time she felt something happening beyond the physical motion, although this sensation was rather sad, anguishing.

I asked her what was, in her opinion, the most important element in Tango and she answered “connection and musicality”.

I agreed with that, and I told her that we needed to make tangible these abstract concepts to find that “something missing” and asked her where, in her opinion, these abstract concepts become real…

She said that she could not find an answer.

I told her: in your body.

In a festival, taking classes with visitor teachers, doing the moves and techniques taught in classes with other participants with whom you never danced before and may never dance again, it is infrequent that you will get anything related to connection and musicality.

Connection and musicality are the most important elements of Argentine Tango.

In any class, with a mix of regulars and random people, it could be out of context to ask participants to connect because, in Argentine Tango, this means to hug each other.

One time, coming out from a concert in Market street in San Francisco, a friend of mine was with his wife walking together next to each other and hugging each other. While they were waiting for the stoplight to get green to cross the street, a lady from the street came up and said that watching them, she realized that she needed a hug and ask if my friend would allow her to hug him. My friend told me that he felt distrust. He let her hug him but cautiously kept his hands on his pockets, preventing the possibility of pickpocketing.

I tell you this to give you an approximation to the feelings possibly trigger by being required to hug and be hugged by strangers.

To work on the connection required to dance Argentine Tango, you need to work with a partner you care about and who cares about you, someone you can trust, looking at their eyes and embracing them warmly.

Also, it would help if you had a knowledgeable teacher that you can trust, with extensive experience dancing and teaching Argentine Tango.

Argentine Tango is profound.

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi at our beginner class.

In my private lessons, I make my students focus on the quality of their moves, musicality, and embrace, helping them bring out their own unique style as Argentine Tango dancers and as milongueros.

I start first working on footwork and techniques until students have incorporated them into their muscle memory.

Eventually, they won’t need to think about “what to do” and “how to do”.

The choreographic aspects of Argentine Tango become part of their natural flow, and when they embrace each other and start walking together on the dance floor at the pace of the music, it’s time for them to get inspired and express the poetry that is in them.

Such poetry is beautifully happy. It fills them up with joy which generously overflows to all. This poetry tells them a few secrets about themselves, about others, about life.

Among many things, what guides me in my private lessons is the understanding that the only one able to address the complexity of the human realm is the human.

Technological seeking of efficiency has developed the robot and artificial intelligence. Humans must act like robots and think like computers to make the association human/machine successful regarding productivity.

Question: is the human hug going to be replaced by an artificially made hug?

Dancing Tango we show off our capacity to hug, making with it a work of art.

Our hug is visible in as far as our footwork and beyond.

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi

This particular way of embracing is what distinguishes Argentine Tango from other partner dances.

It is precisely this characteristic what makes private lessons an essential part of your learning path.

Embracing your partner and dance Argentine Tango is to have a profound and creative conversation, full of joy and awakenings.

The process of learning to dance Argentine Tango requires training yourself in the art of such conversation.

There are not general formulas for your spontaneity, wit, and charm.

Connection and musicality, the most important elements of Argentine Tango, are the intrinsic fabric of this conversation.

Only in private lessons you will be guided accurately on the nuances and infinite shades that Argentine Tango can bring to your experience of dancing.

Start learning Argentine Tango with private lessons

Learn to dance Argentine Tango

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"Becoming Argentina" blog image.

“Becoming Argentina” interviews Marcelo Solis

“Becoming Argentina” interviews Marcelo Solis

 Vance Woods (Independent Writer/Editor | Team Lead – Translations/Copy Editor – USA | Archivoz Magazine | Cataloger Valley Library Oregon State University)

I had the pleasure and honor to be interviewed by Vance Woods (Independent Writer/Editor | Team Lead – Translations/Copy Editor – USA | Archivoz Magazine | Cataloger Valley Library Oregon State University) for his blog “Becoming Argentina”.

We talked about how did I get to where I am today and how did the Escuela de Tango de Buenos Aires come into being; about Tango as a multifaceted manifestation in dance, music, poetry, and more; he asked me what is my favorite tango lyric; about Tango, Argentina, and Buenos Aires; about the effects the Covid-19 pandemic has had on tango culture; about what it means to be a milonguero; on Tango as an industry as opposed to Tango as a cultural practice, and how these two aspects interact; and why do you I think that Tango has so strongly appeal.
I enjoyed so much this interview and I know you are going to enjoy it too.

Read the interview

Continue learning about Argentine Tango:

More articles about Argentine Tango

Marcelo Solis answers what is Argentine Tango. He is an expert.

How to dance Argentine Tango?

An introduction to the most important details

Find the answer

Anibal Troilo and his orchestra | Argentine Tango music to learn to dance

Argentine Tango music

Music to learn to dance

Listen and dance!

History of Argentine Tango: El Cachafaz and Carmencita Calderon at Tango (Movie 1933)

History of Argentine Tango

Tango is a culture

Learn more about Tango

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi at our virtual class.

Argentine Tango: What do you need to improve?

Argentine Tango: What do you need to improve?

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi at our beginner class.

Everything good about Tango dancing is the result of practice.

Regular exercise of walking, change of weight, pause, pivots, turns, “paradas” (stops), “calecitas” (merry-go-round), and embellishments create the foundation of your freedom while dancing.
You don’t need a partner to practice.

Many essential elements of Argentine Tango require being practiced alone.

Another aspect needing your attention is musicality:

The way to improve your musicality is to engage in active listening to Tango music, knowing what you are listening to.

Start learning Argentine Tango

The following tips apply either for individual practice as well as practicing with your partner:

1- Improve your walking:

You can always improve your walking.
Start your practice always by walking. You have four speeds for your walk: regular, fast, slow, and very slow.
  • Start with slow, taking 4 counts for each step.

  • Then practice regular speed, stepping on each downbeat.

  • For fast walking practice what is called “corrida”, walking to a quick-quick-slow rhythmic pattern, or down-up-down.

Tango challenges you to make your walk -and your entire life- a work of Art.

More walking exercises…

2- Change of weight:

Change of weight is a variation of walking.
It happens in the same place, without displacement.

Do at least one change of weight when you initiate your dance.

Do not make too many.
 
Here you can find some exercises to practice and improve your change of weight:


Make them with a calm attitude, and while dancing with your partner, this element should give a sense of calm to your partner.

More change of weight exercises…

3- Pauses:

Pauses are among the most important elements of Tango.

When you practice your elements, search for opportunities for pauses.

As examples: 
  • You can make a pause when you do a salida to de side, also called “salida in 2”.

  • You can make a pause in position 3:

  • After change of direction:

4- Pivots:

  • To practice pivots, you can start with bar exercises.

  • If you do not have a bar, use a chair, preferably with a tall back, helping yourself placing your hands on the back of the chair to practice forward and backward ochos.

  • Then, challenge yourself to practice ochos without the help of the bar or chair.

Practice forward and backward ochos with displacements and without displacement.

5- Turns:

  • The best exercises to improve your turns are chair exercises:

  • and 1-2-3 exercises.

Practice all exercises in both directions of turning: clockwise and counterclockwise directions.

  • Practice chair exercises but without the chair.

  • Other elements used in turns are “rulo”:

  • and “enrosques”:

6- “Paradas” (stops):

Another very important skill to develop to dance Argentine Tango is the control of your inertia and the couple’s inertia.

A great way to work on this skill is to propose yourself to be able to stop at any movement from the 1 to 5 already listed.

  • A classical example of stops is the “sanguchito” or “mordida”:

7- “Calecita”:

This element requires that the follower aligns her axis on the top of one of her feet, allowing the leader to pivot her continuously on one direction.

  • See an example:

8- Embellishments:

A good foundation in your dance makes it beautiful.

Think about embellishments as a natural projection of your good technique, not as a kind of plug-ins movement.

If your walk is deficient, no matter what extra moves you add to your walk, it won’t look good.

Embellishments should arise seamlessly from the work you do on your dance.

  • “Cepillo” (brush):

  • “Rulos” (circles):

  • “Cross and go”:

9- Musicality:

The way to improve your musicality is by engaging in active listening to Argentine Tango music.

Every day we publish a song on our blog.

Subscribe to our blog to receive your daily song…

Osvaldo Pugliese, Argentine Tango orchestra.

Keep in mind:

Practice regularly and consciously, taking care that the practice provides nice sensations of joy to you.

By doing so, you are making yourself generous in extending this joy to your partners and the other dancers that share with you the dance floors of the classes and milongas.

That’s not all:

Dancing shouldn’t be your biggest challenge.

It should rather be the time of amusement, of creativity and exploration of yourself, socializing, relaxing, and releasing stress in a calm and friendly atmosphere.

However, in other to be able to dance with such sensation of freedom and confidence, you will need to expose yourself to a challenge that is greater than dancing Tango, and that is the class and practice.

Also:

  • Take care of yourself, with stretching and regular exercising.
  • Healthy habits of eating and sleep will positively influence your dance.

In sum:

Dancing Argentine Tango presents itself as a way for you to organize your life towards empowering yourself, helping you to achieve your life’s goals, and even provides you with such goals:

To make life beautiful.

Learn to dance Argentine Tango

Continue learning Argentine Tango:

More articles about Argentine Tango

Marcelo Solis answers what is Argentine Tango. He is an expert.

How to dance Argentine Tango?

An introduction to the most important details

Find the answer

Anibal Troilo and his orchestra | Argentine Tango music to learn to dance

Argentine Tango music

Music to learn to dance

Listen and dance!

History of Argentine Tango: El Cachafaz and Carmencita Calderon at Tango (Movie 1933)

History of Argentine Tango

Tango is a culture

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Marcelo Solis and Mimi dancing Argentine Tango

About virtual Argentine Tango classes and private lessons

About virtual Argentine Tango classes and private lessons

Virtual classes are a powerful aid to the improvement of your dance, having always in mind the ultimate goal of dancing embraced.

Marcelo Solis teaching Argentine Tango virtual classes online

In virtual classes, we are able to observe in detail our students dancing, and count on it as a magnificent tool to organize the presentation of our knowledge to them.

Even though what is unique to Tango are its in-person aspects, successful teaching methods will always require:

  • Visual presentation.
  • Clear explanation.
  • Meticulous observation.
  • Distanced objectiveness.

These elements are amplified in the case of virtual classroom technology.

Marcelo Solis Argentine Tango with Sofia Pellicciaro

We strongly advise you not to miss this opportunity.

Virtual classes help you to understand things differently, making you pay attention to aspects often passed on at the in-person classes, and facilitating you to make your communications more clear and efficient. 

Join our virtual classes

Here we want to share with you what we consider important for you in the process of virtual Argentine Tango instruction:

For students:

  • Be open-minded.

    Take advantage of what only virtual classes can offer to you.
     
    For instance, since your teacher cannot dance with you or physically move you, he or she will break down the movements into its most elemental constituents, helping you to fully understand what movements and how to execute them, in a way that will provide you with the opportunity to practice the move in a “timeless” and “spaceless” fashion, a more thoughtful way, and eventually a more aware way.
  • Let experience teach you.

    Since this is going to be a novel way to learn Argentine Tango, you will find on your path problems that will be only resolved with later corrections.
     
    For instance, your floor may not be the best for dancing Tango, or your furniture gets in your way, or your internet connection is too slow.
     
    All these are problems that get fixed much more easily than fixing your Tango. Go ahead and move your furniture, look at hardware stores online for plastic tiles that you can put over your carpet, call your internet provider.
     
    At each class you will get a better set up for your learning environment. And since we are a community, please share your questions regarding solutions to these challenges. I like to ask my students how they are fixing their particular problems, so I may be in the possession of an answer for you already.
  • Pay attention.

    Avoid distractions. If you are not alone at home, let your relatives and spouses know that you’ll be “away” for one hour.
     
    Even though you are physically at home, you are virtually at your Tango class. This “virtuality” is very real. You need to be fully engaged in your class. You won’t be able to be in two places simultaneously.
     
    Even if it is your living room or garage, it is the classroom for the duration of the lesson.
  • Ask questions.

    Do not hesitate. Your instructors need constant feedback to know that the communication is effective.
     
    Let them know you did not understand something, or you could not see it, or whatever passes your mind that is related to what is worked on during the class.
     
    Your teacher has modified his/her teaching style to the online channel, so you need to change your usual learning actitudes. Even technical questions related to the technology used for the class are admissible questions.

For teachers:

  • Plan your class.

    You will need to adapt your teaching style to the TV or computer screen’s two dimensional space.
     
    Keep in mind that your student needs to see you all the time. That is why turns are particularly challenging to teach in the virtual class set up, but not impossible.
     
    My solution to this problem is to segment the turns in its constituents, in order to keep training a fundamental element of Tango, avoiding making students having to look at the screen while they turn away.
  • Have the right tools.

    Supply yourself with a good camera and a good microphone. Since your communications will be exclusively visual and auditory, you need the best tools that you can provide yourself.

    I’ve been using a mini iPad for the camera and a wireless microphone. I like to show the moves having students behind me, so I am doing the with the camera at my back, so the microphone has been essential to make the sound clear even while I am talking looking away fro the camera.

    Although I have to say the iPad and Zoom (the video conference system that we use) are very sensitive in picking up the sound waves.

  • Have good lighting.

    I am using all the lights of my home studio pointed at me, and added an extra lamp with a styrofoam board to reflect light on my face when I get close to the camera.

  • Use screen sharing to play your music.

    This will make your students hear to the music you choose for your class with much better sound quality than if you make it stream from your microphone.

  • Keeping things in order.

    Use the waiting room feature and close the admission at ten minutes into the class to avoid interruptions.

    You can also have an assistant to work as admin. That is my case but it may not be yours.

Here are some examples of what we have been working in our virtual classes:




Learn to dance Argentine Tango at our virtual classes

Related posts:

More articles about Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango dance classes online.

Virtual classes

Online

See schedule:

Marcelo Solis answers what is Argentine Tango. He is an expert.

How to dance Argentine Tango

An introduction to the most important details

Find the answer

Anibal Troilo and his orchestra | Argentine Tango music to learn to dance

Argentine Tango music

Music to learn to dance

Listen and dance!

History of Argentine Tango: El Cachafaz and Carmencita Calderon at Tango (Movie 1933)

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Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi

Looking for tips about learning Argentine Tango dance?

Looking for tips about learning Argentine Tango dance?

Marcelo Solis dancing Argentine Tango with Mimi

From absolute beginner to a great milonguero/a Tango dancer.

Because you have realized the value of Tango, we are offering here a guide into your Tango journey.

You’ll become more yourself within a community. 

Our human nature makes us social beings: we cannot survive in isolation, hence, success is possible for an individual only with the support of one’s peers.
 
That is to say: you learn to dance Tango not only because of your personal taste and choice. There is also a group of people who share your affinity for Tango, and even you will not agree (and you do not need to agree) with everyone in matters of taste and choices, your success regarding Tango will be always tied to how you relate to those other dancers.
 
Even if you never dance with most of them, you will still be sharing the same dance floor and seats around it at the same milonga.

Not everybody has the same sensitivity.

If you are willing to take the challenge, as a great milonguero/a does: aim for the highest, most beautiful, most poetic, and most sublime.

For me, that is Tango.

With such people, I feel at home, and that is my environment.
That is what I would like to share with you.
My reason for doing so is that my goal is always to become a better dancer, and by inviting and challenging you to have the same goal, I count on you to challenge me in the same way.

We mutually challenge each other to become better dancers.

This is not going to make us rivals or enemies. On the contrary: we will develop a deep friendship.
 
I won’t be distant (like on a stage). I will be approachable. I will dance with you or next to you on the same dance floor. I may have more experience than you, but it may turn out that you are more talented. However, on the dance floor of a milonga, we are equals in essence.
The goal of becaming better dancers cannot be quantified.
How do you quantitatively express a good example of a human being?
How do you quantify excellence or the admiration that someone awakens in you?
It is easy to get confused in a world that values quantification the way our civilization does.
For instance, does the number of members in my Facebook group express the level of my dance?
I could set a goal to end the year with over 2,000 members.
That is really easy to do. By the end of this year, I will achieve this goal. Will that make me a better human being?
 
Let’s make a thought experiment (you now know I like them):
An alien comes to our planet and meets with several people. He meets an industrialist called Henry Rearden, a writer and poet called Oliverio Girondo, Gordon Gekko (a banker), Doug McKenzie (a garbage collector), a nurse called Ratched… etc. and a milonguero called Blas Catrenau…
 
What this alien will immediately perceive is the egalitarianism and spontaneity of the milonguero, who approaches him the same way he approaches everyone.
 
He will be surprised he even hugs him as a greeting.
 
Another aspect is the way the milonguero moves, his expressions, the way he walks: he seems easily in control of himself.
 
His words are sometimes a little cryptic. He speaks assuming that the alien understands what he is talking about.
 
However, he speaks with such comfortable self-confidence that the alien cannot avoid agreeing with Blas, even he does not know what Blas is talking about.
 
For Blas, and for any milonguero in general, it does not matter the way you look, your degrees, your wealth, or your job. If he has something to say about you, he would say it only if you ask his opinion, and only in regard to your dance.
 
Now you can continue on your own with this experiment.
 
Imagine any other characters (anyone you want to include) and let me know how you see the alien’s experience meeting them. You can write it here:

Back on Earth, once you’ve made up your mind and accepted that there is no better way to spend your time in life than making it a work of art and that in this endeavor you won’t find anything that makes more sense than dancing Tango, hence, becoming a great dancer (a realization that can take you a period of time ranging from one day to many years), then, the following advice may help you:
  • 1. Be disciplined, regular, and committed to your study of Tango. While dancing Tango is amusing, it is also different from other ways to amuse yourself. Choose these unique characteristics of Tango to be the main core of your dedication to learning it. Steps, choreographic patterns, socializing, close proximity to partners, are all aspects that Tango has in common with other dances and other kinds of activities. On the other hand, its music is unique; and, also, unique is the approach that milongueros have in relation to Tango: for them, Tango is not a “way of life”, but “Life” itself. 

  • 2. If Tango is life, then your Tango teacher is a life-coach. He or she is teaching you how to live Tango. Your relationship between you and your teacher is based on trust, mutual understanding, sympathy, and patience. Tango makes both of you meet at a very humane level, where both need to accept their own limitations and flaws, as well as good qualities. The potential for improvement of Tango is infinite. In the face of such a wide-open horizon, both student and teacher are students of Tango. Your teacher is your guide through Tango, but also your road companion. Choose carefully.
  • 3. Tango is a world. Your Tango teacher is a bridge to it. Allow yourself to know that world, its inhabitants, its culture. A Tango teacher who is doing a good job will have different levels of approximation to your definitive contact with Tango and, eventually, living-breathing-existing-embodying Tango. The first pool in your “decanting” to Tango will be your teacher’s inner group of students. Not anyone who shows up to class, but those who show up in class regularly, and are noticeably there to learn about Tango. Be perceptive of this difference. Then, your teacher with or without this inner group will take you to your first local milongas. New questions will arise there, that you will need to discuss with your teacher. Eventually, you will visit Buenos Aires. You must trust your teacher with this. He or she, if authentic, is your most reliable connection to Tango in Buenos Aires.

Start learning Argentine Tango:

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