Plateaus

I am encountering a frustrating problem: I don’t really have the money to take classes to help improve my tango. I take workshops here and there from visiting instructors simply because I don’t know when I’ll have the opportunity again, but even that is a bit more than I should be spending. (Don’t even remind me of the money I shelled out to visit Seattle next month …) But if I get strict with myself, what can I do to not stall my progress? It’s hard enough to be finally hitting a sort of plateau after my rapid learning for the last year.

My favorite place to practice is no more. Suspended for the summer, and who knows who will return to practice at its new location in the fall? I can’t really afford to pay to practice elsewhere. There is a nice space where I could practice for free if I can encourage other people to come practice with me – that’s my only hope right now, but kind of a long shot to get people there when it isn’t an established habit for them. How can people be happy not practicing? Maybe once I’m settled into my new place with a wood floor I’ll create new options …

I am also feeling just a little tired. I am not tired of tango, but I am tired from not knowing how to improve myself. This goes hand in hand with not having a place to practice right now – I don’t have opportunities to ask for feedback, to identify the best places to focus my attention. Last night, just for something different, I danced with a visiting leader who had a far more show-offy, fling-the-follower-around style than I usually go for. It got more exaggerated as we went, and I was too damn go-with-the-flow to end it once it started feeling ridiculous. I was feeding off his energy, and only later did I realize that it’s like trying to satisfy a chocolate craving with candy – it doesn’t really taste as good as you’d like, and you end up with a stomachache afterwards (or in my case, some knee pain). Well, I learned that lesson.

Now to go find myself some tango chocolate …

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10 thoughts on “Plateaus

  1. First, realize that everyone hits plateaus. There are many stages in our tango lives, and each one has a plateau in it.Second, if you put that energy out there, a practice situation will materialize. But I’d suggest you stop working so hard at getting better, and just allow it to happen naturally. You have said that you have good body awareness, so it will happen. Naturally.Third, if you just can’t wait for nature to take it’s course, try approaching someone whose dancing and opinion you value and ask if they’d have any interest practicing once a week with you.But unless your intention is to become a professional tango dancer, I see no reason why you should be “strict” with yourself in the pursuit of fun.

  2. Thanks for the reality check. 🙂I should also say that I really do enjoy practicing. It isn’t just something I do to discipline myself. I enjoy the social side of practicing with a bunch of people, and I like the act of talking through and working out points of technique.Maybe it’s the years of ballet training coming out (and the expectation that you’re always in class to maintain and improve your technique – that’s part of the fun!), or maybe it’s the part of me that gets into nuevo style (and loves to experiment and find new possibilities), who knows?But you’re right, I need to separate the “Agh, must get better!” feelings from the “I want to practice for fun!” feelings … and nurture the latter. I have a habit of turning everything I try into a competition, even if that competition is just with myself. And that isn’t healthy. So … off I go to just kick back and have fun at a milonga! 😀

  3. Starting your own practica might be a good idea.I am curious, how much does it cost to attend a practica? Perhaps if you agree to help beginners to practice they (or the host) could pay (wave) your entrance fee in return?

  4. Yes, I’d agree very much with Johanna. I found that my dance really started to improve a lot when I stopped taking regular classes. The intention originally was to stop classes and just go to dances to cut down on the amount of time I was spending on tango to allow me to spend time with non-tango friends.The result was that I stopped worrying about the physics of tango and started connecting and focusing more strongly on my partners and the music. All the things that I was trying to learn in the classes then started to happen naturally.I still do take classes or private lessons occasionally, when a particular teacher or subject is on offer, but it’s more to see what is being said than to copy what is being taught. And tango seems to be something that can’t be rushed, you just have to put in the tango miles around the dance floor to improve.

  5. The big problem, in my opinion, is that few teachers here teach the basic and the foundation of good social tango well. Embrace, posture and walk, if only every one were to learn these big three well enough before moving on to volcada or colgada, the tango world would be a better place. I stop going to workshops because it costs roughly half of a private class. A few private classes with a good teacher can sometimes take one’s dance to another level. Fortunately for me, I haven’t hit a plateau yet. I think that having the basic three right from the beginning contributes a lot to my good fortunate in tango. Hope you will find your good fortunate in tango soon.

  6. I understand the frustration. I get to places where I cannot figure out what to do to move ahead, besides just dancing a lot. But then I think that I am in danger of just reinforcing the things that need to be changed.Hope we see you in Seattle! Have fun at “The Magic” in any case.

  7. Start the practica, you mentioned you have a practice space for free already. People will come. Start a webpage for your local community, to keep people informed of tango happenings if there already isn´t one, and if there is advertise your practica there.

  8. Thanks for the suggestions, miss tango. There actually is a great website for our community, and the space I know of isn’t mine to organize – actually, someone else has mentioned to the community that its an open space for practicing. Really what I need to do is just encourage people to come practice there with me!Thanks to everyone who has commented here, really. I appreciate the support and the advice … I’m not really sure how much of this is a plateau and how much is just slowing down to a more normal rate of progress, but in any case I’m trying to just chill out and enjoy the dancing! 🙂

  9. Yay for Seattle. It will be my first festival in my newbie tango experiences…As for creating the opportunities, sometimes you just gotta get up and do it!

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