From June 18, 2013
Just by going online, I love how I can find a new sushi recipe in a matter of minutes. Without a gym membership, I can access YouTube and easily discover new workout routines using only the chin-up bar in my apartment. And YouTube, or some other site, will probably give me quick answers on how to treat injuries should I screw up said routines.
Quick, free, and easy access to information allows us to save time on other tasks: booking plane tickets, paying bills, viewing our bank balances, checking the weather forecast, and updating a website. We can do all those things from a single computer (or tablet, or smart phone) in the time it takes your microwave oven to finish cooking a frozen pizza. It’s amazing.
As nice as it is to be able to have more efficiency and productivity than ever before, being successful in some areas in life still require actual human contact…and time. For example, some of the core elements of learning tango haven’t changed in over a century. These include learning from teachers and practicing with partners.
Now consider this: Ever find yourself getting impatient when the website you’re looking for takes 3 instead of 0.016 seconds to load? I admit I sometimes do. And are you tempted to fly into a rage when your Facebook account goes down due to scheduled maintenance? Those fifteen minutes when you can’t check and see if anyone’s “liked” your latest status update feel like a hellish eternity. That mindset, which we’ve become accustomed to in our fast-paced lives, might also be affecting our attitudes towards learning tango.
In some ways, the perfectionism and desire to do things correctly (RIGHT NOW!) can be positive with respect to motivation. But the big downside is that we often give ourselves an unrealistic time-frame in which to become competent dancers. And we start doubting ourselves, or worse, giving up, when we fail to meet our own unrealistic expectations.
A six-week class series focusing on ganchos and sacadas, for example, will give you a good introduction to those figures. An intensive workshop on the same steps with a world renown teacher can definitely improve your dancing. But it will take more than just six weeks of classes or a great workshop to become proficient at ganchos, sacadas or any other figure. You have to take it upon yourself to practice, practice, practice.
Again, this seems obvious. Now consider this:
You probably won’t be great at doing the steps you learned in a class or workshop right away. In many cases, it’ll take weeks, or even months of practice and repetition, before you start to get it. An “I MUST DO IT CORRECTLY RIGHT THIS INSTANT” mentality, which might be fine at our day jobs, is fundamentally incompatible with tango. In all honesty, if you don’t feel like tearing your hair out or punching a hole in the wall at some point while working on a particular figure, then you’re doing something wrong.
But there will come a moment when something in your brain clicks. You’ll finally understand what your instructor was talking about, even if it was half a year ago (or more). You will, in fact, figure out that step…eventually. And when you do, that moment is priceless.
It happens without warning, and at any time. It’ll make you feel as though you can see the world a little more clearly, and will give you a sense of accomplishment that electronic instant gratification can’t possibly provide.