When learning a step in our tango classes, our teachers show us their way of doing it. Emulating them is a good starting point. But once we’re able to comfortably do so, we shouldn’t just repeat the figure a few times, say, “Ok, I got it” to ourselves, then rush on to the next thing.
Chances are, the step we just picked up only scratches the surface when it comes to learning. We have to go further, and question the step. Why does it work the way it does? How does our movement affect our partner’s? What do we need to remember about timing, body position, and floorcraft in order to get the step to work?
And another big question: With this step, what else can we create?
We won’t reach our full potential as tango dancers if we do only what’s taught in class. We’re meant to experiment with the lesson material because, in most cases, our teachers simply don’t have the time to show us the full range of possibilities that a particular figure or step has to offer.
So in the midst of practice, have fun and experiment. We get excited about steps by first doing it the teacher’s way. But we remember them more easily and grow as dancers when we’re able to pull it off our way.