How do you draw a circle?
If you were to take five different art lessons from five different teachers, you could very well get five different answers. And while you’re practicing all that circle drawing, you’ll turn to your fellow students asking for their opinions, too. Some will understand exactly what the teacher said. Others might not, but will find a different way to complete the assignment.
How do we get better at tango?
Yes, tango classes and workshops definitely help. They give us a clear idea on how to do a certain figure or understand a particular concept. And each instructor will probably have a different method of teaching the same step(s).
But teachers, classes, and workshops are just a starting point.
What do our fellow students think?
Interacting with other dancers at practicas and milongas is where the other half of learning takes place. Some will understand exactly what the teacher was talking about. Some will remember the parts of the lesson we forgot, and some will come to us for help because they forgot the parts we happen to remember.
Collectively, we all have the complete answer to whatever problem we’re working on. Or, perhaps we’ll discover a different path to the same solution. Or maybe we’ll even stumble upon a totally new and exciting figure.
Again, the structure of a class setting is a great place to start learning. But in the end, growth and mastery of tango (or anything else in life) doesn’t follow a concrete structure or outline. Our fellow students, despite being just as lost as we are at times, are just as valuable a resource as our instructors. And not knowing how you’ll figure something out right away doesn’t mean you won’t, or can’t.