Tango Fusion: Getting sidetracked

28th November 2008

(Part of the Tango Fusion collection of articles.)

"Keeping to the main road is easy, but people love to be sidetracked" - Lao Tzu


In truth, although most people are heading in a specific direction, sometimes it's nice to get side-tracked and do something different for a bit. Or you may actually be interested in doing more than one thing. No problem.

However, bear in mind your teachers are probably not just focusing solely in one direction either. For example, demos slowly change over time. And each demo brings with them a different skill set and a different set of interests. They will (hopefully) share the same main focused, but their secondary focuses are probably different. Likewise although the teacher has an effect on the type of students they attract, the students also have an effect on what is taught.

There's pros and cons to focusing on more than one thing at a time.

Obviously, the more you spread your attention, the more it splits your resources, and so you learn each area more slowly. However quite often in tango understanding one thing gives you insight into something else.

But then again, often the two aren't as compatible as they might first appear.

It can get messy quickly.

Chickens, Eggs and Poodles

Pablo Veron once gave the excellent advice that before starting the intermediate class a leader should be able to lead a basic walk and giro perfectly. Unfortunately it's pretty much impossible to learn to do this in beginners' classes. You have to learn more advanced concepts to understand the basics. And you have to learn the basics to understand the more advanced concepts.

Which leads to the chicken and the egg problem.

I believe it was Terry Pratchett who solved it - what came first was something one evolutionary step away from being a chicken, which laid an egg which produced the first chicken. So in tango you just keep evolving until finally you're doing some part of the basics right. Then you can start working your way through actually learning the rest of tango properly. Just don't expect this point to be happening until you've been doing tango for years.

How important this is to you will very much depend on how far you want to travel. If you just want to learn enough to have fun, then you'll never have to worry about this. If you want add some walks into your MJ you won't need it at first. But if you keep going you'll reach a point where your tango will need to evolve further.

Again, it's a very good idea to get a teacher who understands what it is you're trying to achieve, to help you evolve into a chicken, not a rather confused poodle.

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 - Christopher O'Shea, 28th November 2008