The role of the visiting tango teacher

I was sure I had broached this subject before, but it hasn't come up in a quick search - so here goes! It is timely because in the last week of attending milongas just about every night, the common topic has been the 'arrogance' of the masters at the recent Festival. By 'arrogance' I am referring to the fact that they do not get up and dance with their clientele. I am fully aware that they do not do this in Buenos Aires - how could they? After teaching and practising for hours they go to a milonga to enjoy the company of their friends - and dance the occasional dance with each other. But when they are guests in another country - and being paid to be here - the general feeling is that they need to be more sociable. It should not be about how they feel, but about pleasing the customer. I was disappointed that even those, who had visited Australia a number of times before, did not join the floor with any of the locals except the organiser. Australia is not Buenos Aires - there are not other tango professionals sitting around the room who are going to judge these dancers/teachers on their performance when they dance socially with the locals. Rather the other way. What seems to have happened is that by only sitting together and not mixing, by only performing and not dancing socially the recent batch of professionals from Buenos Aires have left a feeling that they are elitist and unapproachable. .


Anonymous said…
In a similar vein - I wonder what is the protocol for approaching local teachers, and their overseas visitors, for a dance?

I was at a milonga last week. Several teachers were there, seated, chatting to friends at the "teachers table". In this case, some from BsAs and here for the festival. And another couple of teachers from another school at another table. All dressed for dancing. But the whole night, most neither asked anyone else to dance, nor danced themselves. OK I guess after a long day teaching, it might be more like work than play to dance with the crowd, but then I wonder - why go at all? Might as well have a chat in a cafe ... or is it all part of the marketing?

On the other hand, it might be that the teachers and visitors are very happy to dance, and just waiting for an approach by one of the keen locals. But its hard to tell. Is it cool for anyone to walk up to anyone in heels at the teachers table, no matter how disinterested they may look, and politely ask for a spin? Or is that a real faux pas? Cabeceo only? Who does that in Sydney anyway!!
Debbi said…
I am a little surprised at the expectation that visiting instructors also be taxi dancers at the milonga. The sentance that really struck me was that it should not be about how they feel, but about pleasing the customer. Their job is to teach. The pleasing the customer should happen in the class, when hopefully participants received their money's worth. They teach all day, rehearse for performance, perform at the milonga, and then there is an expectation that they dance socially also. When do they rest and relax in order to be focused and on point for the next morning's class? I wonder how forgiving folks would be if the instructors showed up for class tired, cranky and unprepared because they danced socially the night before.
In my opinion instructors, whether visiting or local, should not be expected to dance with their students at the milonga. If they do, that is wonderful, but it should not be the expectation. Nor should they be judged because of their choice to enjoy the milonga for themselves as opposed to for everyone else.
It is my understanding that a taxi dancer is hired to dance with a partner and it also has other connotations. I do not think for one moment that the visiting instructors should be taxi dancers.
But I do think it would improve the impression they make on the locals if they socialised with those they are visiting. They are all fit, mostly very young dancers quite capable of dancing at a milonga - if they want to rest and relax the milonga is not the place to do it.
And I doubt very much that dancing socially would make professional dancers tired and cranky the next day. I have lived with professional dancers who dance every day and many nights of the year - it did not make them tired and cranky the next day.
Your last sentence suggests that their enjoyment of the milonga is based on their enjoyment of each other's company - which is certainly how it appeared. However should they have chosen to mix and enjoy the company of others who were there it would have been very well received. I remember many years ago tango teachers coming to Sydney and dancing and socialising with the locals - one of them being Miguel Zotto.
Janis said…
I found this video of Daniel Naccuchio in Seoul, Korea dancing with all the ladies. It shows that he can dance socially and improvise tango. All the ladies wanted to dance with him and had the chance for a few seconds. He's a totally different dancer than when he performs with Cristina.

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