It is beyond exciting to return home from a class and start talking with someone who just came home from a different class – and then start comparing notes. We had both been working on boleos, so our walk to the front door was punctuated by pauses to demonstrate. Once inside, we had to jump up from the couch a couple more times to try things out. We had a whole discussion about different techniques and funny stories from class, and tonight we will hopefully have more time (and space!) to practice some of these ideas.
Last night was my first private class, and I can confidently say that it was a success! My teacher stopped me right away as we were talking about my goals and said, “You know you’re a good dancer, right?” He said that he has only taught privates with one other good dancer, so he wanted me to interrupt with questions as much as possible. I was a little taken aback at this, because it isn’t as though he is a green teacher. (I mean, he isn’t one of the Tango Gods, but I still wouldn’t have expected him to put me in the category of the best dancers he has taught! I wonder if this can be attributed to my dance background, which helps me learn quickly within classes as well as over time.)
Anyway, I have been frustrated with how much close embrace/apilado dancing I have been doing. I feel like it has become my default style and that I am not as good at dancing more open styles (despite having started with salon and being terrified at the idea of dancing in close embrace). So we spent a while working on switching between embraces while dancing, feeling the lead through my back (especially the lead into closer embraces – and not jumping back to close embrace at the first chance I get!), understanding the technical differences in our frames with each embrace, feeling the subtle leads from one embrace to another and the problems that occur when the leads are misinterpreted, etc. It was really neat.
At some point we turned to a discussion of boleos – so helpful for me. We talked about the technical differences between front and back boleos, for both the leader and the follower. We felt through the different energies and directions of various boleos, and how they are different on the follower’s right and left legs. Then we talked about the ways that other leads could be misinterpreted as boleos – and by talking about the mechnical, technical differences between what non-boleo step was led and how a boleo would be led I now feel much more confident. (Something as simple as knowing that a left leg wrap will be led with my hips facing forward while a front boleo would have my hips facing to the right suddenly makes everything click in my body and head.) And right before we finished, we danced a little and both stopped with an “oh!” moment at the same time – as we both noticed something the same problem area that I could work on with my technique.
This is just what I need. Working through technical questions and those moments that make me scratch my head, and having my teacher dance with me until something isn’t quite right so that we can go back and correct it. It’s the kind of individual feedback of a technical sort that I can’t get from a practica. I don’t know that I will need too many privates at any given time, but I am convinced that they are a great way to address my technique and specific questions that I have, whereas group classes are better for trying out new moves and styles and ideas from a fresh perspective.