There’s a lot going on in group classes and it can be overwhelming. The teacher/student relationship, the complexity of the material for you, the rapport between you and your partner, group dynamics are but a handful of things that can be distracting. Here are a few thoughts about how get the best out of your group classes.
Remember the why.
Why are you in the class? You want to dance in the milonga. You would like to feel more confident with a particular part of your dance. Or, you’d like to add to what you already know.
You’re investing in your dance. I don’t mean the money you pay for the class but the time and energy you put into being there, so make the most of it.
You’re coming to a class to challenge yourself, stretch the challenge muscle. Don’t expect to be spoon-fed. Tango is as much about you and what you put into it. If you don’t get it right the first time or even ten times after that, don’t worry. It’ll be in there, just not ready to come out yet. If you’re overloaded – take a break and come back to it, break it down into smaller part.
Be nice to your partner while you’re feeling uncomfortable.
Your partner is in the same class, maybe not experiencing the same challenges as you but others. Be gentle, have compassion and work together. If you’re stuck, ask for help to unstick and carry on. Use the same compassion for your fellow dancers in the class, don’t hog the teacher and remember the space is a shared one, just like the milonga. You don’t need to finish the steps if you run out of space.
Do the steps.
Bearing mind some spatial awareness for your fellow students. If you’re having problems, break it down into the steps. Then move to the next level….
Now, feel your movement rather than do the steps.
Developing this awareness of your connection with your partner and linking it to the movement takes time. This is what we’re looking out for, so look.
Enjoy the process and find the gold nugget
It’s easy after classes to feel frustrated and lose sight of the progress you’ve made. Remember the ‘aha!’ moments in your class. The cross that was led, the ochos that were connected all the way through, the end that finished with the music. There’s your progress and that’s your gold.
On a practical note…
- Be ready to start, arrive early and change your shoes before the class starts.
- Put your phone on silent (not vibrate).
- Freshen up before class – Use deodorant and bring a spare shirt/top to change into if you’re coming from work. Brush your teeth, use mouthwash or pop a mint (no gum). Bring a towel if you sweat a lot.
- Avoid drinking alcohol before class.
- If you’re late, come inside quietly and get ready for class without distracting the other students. If you want to explain, apologise after class.
- If you have a cold or aren’t feeling well, it’s better to skip a class and return when you’re back on form.
- Do not record or photograph the class without permission.
The long view…
- Revisit the basics (I love this).
- Listen to your body.
- Listen to the music, in and out of class.
- Enjoy your dance.
Classes start tonight, see you there.