Teaching tango to absolute beginners is a daunting and challenging task. For my own edification, I’ve created this Venn diagram as a way of isolating out and thinking about each essential component separately. Under each component I’ve listed only a few suggested topics–as each instructor will have their own idea of what topics to cover and how much emphasis should be placed on each of them. However I think all instructors will agree that a tanguero must have some competence in all four of these components in order for them to reach that so-called “tango zone”.
All the things described by Clay Nelson in his diagram are about “How” to teach tango. The comments received are also about “How” to teach tango.
But, until you define “What” you do when you dance tango, or any social dance, you cannot determine “How” to teach those things.
“What” is happening when people dance tango ? “What” do people do when they dance tango ?
When you know “What”, then you will know “Why”. When you know “Why”, you can determine “How”.
What …. Like a surfer plays with a wave, like a hang glider plays with the air currents … The dancer plays with the music … This could be done solo or with a partner ( the typical social dance )
Why …. It feels good, it’s fun , each wave, air current, piece of music is new and exciting to play with
How …. From the simplest action of just swaying or walking to the music as a beginner, to complex movements to interpret the music …. And with a partner , you add the social human-connection ….
…. And if it all works the person-music connection combines with the person-person connection and you expetience BLISS …. The goal in life.
Simple and so rare.
But we never stop trying.
What does “plays with” mean? Can you define it ? Do the same for tango.
What is the “least common denominator” of tango ?
To Play : … Is to experience FLOW : Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, this positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields
from your comments above:
“performing an activity” “the process of the activity”.
What is “the activity” What is “the process of the activity” ? What activity is done in tango that can create the flow and enjoyment ?
Which comes first, “the activity”, or the flow ? Can you experience the flow without “the activity” ?
If “the activity ” can yield the flow ; ergo, learn “the activity”.
Navigation is an essential component. I think it could be included with the tango etiquette items that someone listed.
1) determine what you do when you dance tango ?
2) teach tango students the skills that enable them to do number 1 above.
it`s easy !
“if you don`t know where you`re going, any road will take you there”. a proverb.
What is “The Tango Zone”? And, what is tango?
Add a 5th circle: tango etiquette. Beginners should know some of the basics and why the codigos make sense… e.g.,
• basic hygiene & dress for milonga vs práctica, and why it’s important.
• structure of tandas, cortinas, and the TTVTTM pattern.
• observing dancers & choosing partners.
• how cabeceo works and why it is used.
• how to finish a tanda (and exit a bad one gracefully), and why these methods are used.
With an introduction and a bit of rôle-playing, the beginner will know what to look & listen for in milongas, and will feel more comfortable in the tango community.
I somehow missed your comment on ettiquette and like your list. Hygiene and dress is a very good point. Personally I would add structure of tandas, etc., to musicality curriculum.