Over the summer, I fell off the tango horse. My first attempt at getting back on the horse last weekend was a bit bumpy. It was fun, but a little rough.
This weekend I’ve made another effort to get back on the tango horse by participating in advanced tango seminars taught by the talented Mike Eblen from San Diego.
Advanced tango seminars… Me? An advanced dancer? I’m most definitely not…
But I signed up for the class anyway, despite my concerns. This is largely due to the reassurance I received from the event organizer, who is a friend and who has been one of my instructors, that I would do ok in the seminars too. That coupled with my student status (i.e. student discount) made up my mind for me.
All told I participated in five, one-hour tango classes: two on Saturday and three on Sunday. (My legs are a bit sore today.) The topics covered were: “Seduction and the Embrace, “”Enticing Her to Turn,” Finding Things Out of Our Reach and Making Them Possible,” “Milonga Made Easy,” and “Advanced Topics in Connection.”
In certain ways, I was in over my head. I haven’t had any consistent classes on the tango basics yet, though I’ve picked up a ton on the fly. Still, I battle with the fundamentals (e.g. coming to collection, staying on the balls of my feet, staying relaxed…). Even with their advanced status, these classes helped me address the some of the holes that exist in the foundation of my tango knowledge, but they also complemented and added to the other things I’ve learned along the way.
Mike had a really great way of breaking down the techniques he explained and made them easy to understand. He used humor well and had everyone in the class chuckling throughout the seminars. The laughter made the classroom feel like a safe space too, which is important when you are learning something new… He challenged us by teaching us “advanced, advanced” techniques in some cases, and also helped us correct mistakes with fundamental techniques. He reminded us that feeling frustration during the different seminars was a good thing! He was trying to push us to and past our limits.
Throughout all of the classes there was only one time I reached my threshold of frustration. My partner was trying to help me through a sequence we just learned, and I just wasn’t getting it. We tried a few times, and I finally just had to stop. I was near tears, which is a place that I didn’t want to be in this class. Tango is supposed to be fun, and while I’m fully willing to challenge myself, I realize that sometimes challenge means knowing your limits. I was at that limit, so stopping was the right thing. I watched others try to figure out the steps while I calmed down, which helped me to (sort of) figure out the sequence, but also helped me to realize that others were struggling with the sequence. I’m glad that I did stop and got a little space…
I knew these seminars weren’t going to make me a tango expert. But I also know that these classes added to my tango toolbox. They add to the components that will make me a better dancer over time.
I’m glad I challenged myself with these advanced courses, even though fear could have easily kept me away. I’m also looking forward to starting regular classes in early September with Victoria and Federico. I think those classes will help to build my confidence, so that I don’t get too frustrated about things in the future.
Viva la tango!