To teach... or not to teach

This is not a dilemma I have. I have been learning to dance tango for more than a decade and many of the people I first went to class with in Sydney have set themselves up as tango teachers - with varied success, but always with a following. I love tango music - it was that which first drew me to the dance - and I do organise milongas, two or three times a month. Because I don't teach I don't have a loyal crowd of followers who would come to my milongas regardless...I rely on people knowing that we play Golden Age classics and do our utmost to make each milonga special and it is much more difficult to attract customers this way, but all the milonga organisers in BA don't teach - and I don't want to teach something I have not been trained to teach. Why am I writing this post today? Because I have just seen an announcement on FB about yet another tango 'teacher' setting up. It is a good little money earner if you get the expenses right, and I believe that every such 'teacher' brings new people into the community. But there will be those who feel that all it does is fragment the existing community... what do you think? Are there too many tango teachers? Are there too many milongas? I'm adding to this after Mari's comment below... this puts it into perspective!! I had never thought of it like this but it is so spot on... we should all teach!

Comments

Mari Johnson said…
All I can do is echo what Clay Nelson wrote:

"The next tricky question is who should teach? The answer is...you, along with everyone of your friends, neighbors, and acquaintances that knows the least thing at all about tango! I know this is contrary to everything you've heard and thought about tango, but tango is a folk dance and should be shared and taught by everyone. That's the way it originated, and that's the way it will promulgate. This is not rocket surgery, my friend, and the idea is to have fun and enjoy. Remember, everyone of those people that your neighbor, relative, and clumsy former student starts teaching is one more body brought into the tango community—and probably a body that would never have been there otherwise. Furthermore, once they see you dance and hear what a superior teacher you are, they will all end up as your student anyway."
Janis said…
The problem isn't too many teachers, even dancers who aren't qualified to teach. The issue is that adults don't practice and come to rely on a "teacher" in a weekly class to help them do what they should be doing on their own after a few classes. Too many dancers never leave the class mode to find their own dance within and eventually become clones of every visiting teacher in town.

I don't agree with Clay Nelson that everybody should teach. Yes, those who have more experience should pass on what they know. The milongueros viejos have not done enough of this, and now it's too late for them. There are too many Argentine couples labeled as salon tango dancers when they really are performers in the milongas; they don't dance socially, so how can they be expected to teach social dancers and the milonga codes? They can't. Tango is being sold more as an exhibition dance than a social one. People go to classes to learn things that aren't appropriate for a milonga. Why? Because they don't know any better. Tango is commercial. And every country in the world has tango for export to make money. Who is teaching the real tango that the young boys practiced in the street? No one.
David Owen said…
I am not sure I agree with this sentiment, I was only able to judge the difference between a good teacher and one that had limited knowledge, after several years. If a good teacher had guiding mefrom day one, I would have saved money and time getting to where I am now. Argentine tango is one hell of a folk dance.
I am reminded of a Sufi story about a competent and well respected teacher who one day came across one of his former students, well dressed and clearly prosperous, a student who showed little promise leaving in the middle of his studies. The teacher asked what was the secret to his success, the once student explaining he had left the school knowing his limitations but also realizing there was money to be made from teaching and had started his own school and because he was competent in business was
doing very well.

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