I want to learn technique

19th November 2008

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Technique isn't everything - but it certainly helps!


It's not enough to find a teacher who's focussed on technique. They have to be able to teach it in a way that you understand and without making you want to kill them.

It's no good going to a teacher who explains everything methodically, scientifically and mathematically if that's not the way your mind works.

Likewise being told you're wrong repeatedly can be very frustrating, especially as tango has a pretty harsh learning curve where technique is concerned. You need a teacher who knows who to balance critiquing with when to back off and when to praise you.

You also need to be a good learner. Learning technique isn't a sprint, it's a marathon. It needs a lot of patience. You need to be gentle on yourself.

Oh and just to make things harder FM Alexander did some interesting research which shows that once your body has gotten used to doing something the wrong way, if you're shown the right way it will often feel wrong! There's a re-acclimatisation period, after which you wonder how you ever felt comfortable doing it the first way.

A short history of learning

We learn in different ways:

  • You can learn by a verbal / written explanation
  • You need to see the position / a picture
  • You need to see it in motion / a video
  • You need to feel it (still waiting for the Matrix upgrade to Jivetango)
  • It can't be directly taught

Simply put, you need to make sure your teacher is teaching you in a way that covers all the above, especially the last two, and that fits with your own learning preferences.


Find the right teacher. Look around. Do a few classes. How do they explain things? How much one-to-one time is there? How relaxed do you feel? Do they move the way you want to move?

And once you've found this teacher - it may take a while - stick with them for a while, for consistency.

Who's doing it currently

Look for technique classes. Some suggestions:

Recommended reading

 - Christopher O'Shea, 19th November 2008