At last night’s practica, I had a blast.
To be honest, I’m a bit tired of one particular result of coming to tango with a lot of dance background – that is, I’m tired of hearing about how quickly I’ve picked it up and how well I am doing. (I really mean it; the comment gets old, and I’ve run out of ways to respond.) Yes, I know that I have nice leg extensions and pretty feet; I have over 15 years of ballet training that hasn’t completely faded from my muscle memory. The problem is that some leaders can’t get past this, even though I know that I don’t have all the tango-specific technique yet. I’m fine knowing that my quick progress has made me a desirable follower at milongas, but it can hinder further progress.
At a lot of practicas, I end up progressing only in tiny, imperceptible amounts with my own technique, because too many leaders want to just dance rather than really work on technique. I don’t know if they assume that I’m happy with how far I have gotten, or they don’t care about improving followers’ technique (hard to believe!), or what. All I know is that instead of practicing for myself, I often focus on encouraging the leaders who have only been at it for a couple months. Which I don’t entirely mind – I like being at a point where I can give something back to the community.
But last night was thankfully different: I had a chance to really work on my own technique. I spent maybe an entire hour just going over and over different things with one of my favorite leaders to practice with – he is patient and tends to use almost a Socratic method for teaching things, meaning that instead of dictating to me what I should do he waits for me to feel it. I always come away with a sense that I really improved somehow. At the end of practicing with him, I got one of my favorite compliments: He said that I am “good to practice with.” And given the time that we spent practicing, the difficulty of the things we worked on, and the general feeling at the end, I believe him – and certainly think the same of him!