HELPING BEGINNERS: 5 LITTLE THINGS THAT GO A LONG WAY

Eventually, we’ll reach a point in our dancing where we understand the basics enough to help beginners. That’s great!

But explaining tango and dancing it are two different things. Clearly presenting the tango knowledge in our heads to a newbie requires a different kind of skill set.

We don’t necessarily have to be teaching experts, but here are 5 little things that will go a long way in encouraging a potential tango addict.

KEEP THINGS SIMPLE: When a beginner tries something new, even if it’s basic, we’ll spot at least a dozen things we want to correct at once. Don’t feel it’s your duty to make a perfect dancer right away. Choose a few elements to start with first (e.g. weight shifting, a few walking steps, etc). And break them down to their basic components.
GO SLOW: Newbies are interested in learning, and also want to make a good impression on experienced dancers. They’re excited, and probably anxious too. But that doesn’t mean they want t0 go fast. Whenever it’s time to move from one element to the next, you’ll always be ready to do so before they will. So take your time.
DON’T COVER TOO MUCH: Occasionally, even professional teachers do this. It’s exciting when a newbie starts picking things up quickly. In turn, we become eager to show them more and more figures. But covering too much increases the chances of skipping over important fundamentals, or scaring beginners off completely.

As tango can easily overwhelm even the most talented learners, it’s better to spend time covering fewer items in greater depth. There will always be opportunities to introduce more figures, and they’ll only retain so much information in single session anyway. So let’s calm down and not try volcadas on the first day.

REPETITION: Showing a basic step to a newbie and encouraging them practice it over and over again might be a little boring to you, but it’s really helpful to them. Very few people master a step the first day it’s introduced. Showing them that repetition and practice matters will help give a more realistic and relatable picture of the learning process.

BE FRIENDLY (OR AT LEAST TRY TO SMILE): Those motivated enough to ask for help are exactly the kinds of people that a tango community needs in order to grow. Despite all the other activities available to people these days, they chose to give tango a try.

Encouraging words and a few smiles help a lot. But being overly critical with beginners and using a sharp tone of voice whenever they make mistakes is a huge turn-off. This creates the impression that they have to somehow prove themselves in order to join some sort of exclusive club. Remember, we’re a bunch of tango dancers, not a military academy or secret society. Taking ourselves too seriously makes us look goofy, insular, and self-important…but mostly goofy.

So whenever a newbie approaches us for help, don’t look upon it primarily as a test to determine whether or not they “belong.” Instead, it’s an opportunity to prove that our tango community is worth joining in the first place.

penguins-helping

#tango #helpingbeginners

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