It is true we can learn something from every tango teacher, but it is false that we can learn something USEFUL from every tango teacher. That is because qualified, competent tango teachers are rare. Judging by how most dancers dance at milongas, no matter who the teacher is, where (s)he was born, and how many decades (s)he danced or taught tango, ... , most of the things that (s)he has taught will have to be unlearned before dancers can have a hope of some day enjoying dancing tango up to their potentials.
Did they teach you ...
to dance on the balls of your feet?
to practice giros or turns or "Molinete's" around inanimate objects, for example chairs? 1, 2, 3, 4: front, side, back, side?
to spend hours pushing the partner like a shopping cart "to learn the tango walk"?
to lean forward and press your chest into your partner's "to have a strong connection"?
to "collect" your feet?
to practice the ocho as a fundamental building block of tango? Against a wall or a ballet bar?
that there are three kinds of steps in tango: front, side, back?
that the leader stops the follower when (s)he makes foot contact?
that the follower crosses when the leader first turns torso one way, then the other way, ... perhaps while giving the follower a lift and then a twist ...?
to finish the "figures" facing "the line of dance"?
that "If you can walk you can dance tango"? And at the same time, ...
that "Walking is the hardest part of tango"?
They taught me all of that too.
And I had to unlearn it all.
It is hard to believe, but ...
The truth about the vast majority of tango teachers in the US is summarized this way:
"The Emperor has no clothes on!"
It takes a long time to discover as I did that the vast majority of people teaching Argentine tango here in the US are unable to produce one good tango dancer from every hundred students that go to them. Instead, they plant the seeds of frustrated progress, unfulfilled wishful longing for becoming an in-demand dance partner, and finally quitting the tango.
The bad habits are difficult to break, and the wrong ideas difficult to let go, especially when they develop in groups where nobody dare questions illogical teachings while other students diligently practice, or in private lessons under the watchful eye of the "teacher".
It is difficult to break the bad habits because, while the required physical re-training is manageable with a competent teacher who cares and a student who is convinced; even with the caring instruction of the best teachers in the world, the psychological demand of letting go the prized possession of the wrong beliefs tied to those bad habits is painful, and beyond the capacity of most adults.
That' the nature of the difficulty, and the main reason skilled dancers are also rare. That is the reason why the majority of tango dancers settle for shuffling their feet in one milonga after another, mindlessly duplicating ad nauseam a collection of caricatures of tango poses and figures.
Some things about this dance have nothing to do with so-called "styles". Teachers who claim to teach "styles" of tango, like close-embrace style or open-embrace style or nuevo style, or milonguero style, or nuevo-milonguero-style, etc. etc. are promoting a separation of dancers into "bins". They are busy pigeonholing you into those bins. They do that because that is how they think about tango; that is how they see tango.
We do the opposite. We break down the artificial barriers and free dancers from the dogma, and we shatter the stupid bins!
There are different personalized styles of dancing, yes; but absolutely correct and incorrect technique, and some absolutely correct and incorrect fundamental musicality do exist, and they have nothing to do with stylistic preferences and subjective interpretations.They have universal truth to them, and universal value. When it comes to those things, absolute relativism fails to produce good tango dancers. It only serves to dilute tango and dumb it down. Most teachers have learned to dumb it down so they can continue doing what they are doing, which is the easy job of producing dancers with poor skills all around: technique, musicality, and structure.
Also, it is useless, meaningless, and destructive to pigeonhole students (and teachers) into the bins: open-embrace tango, close-embrace tango, nuevo-tango, milonguero-tango, and other hyphenated so-called "styles". This provincial and backward teaching mentality is the reason thousands of perfectly competent men and women cannot enjoy dancing tango with each other: because they are in the "wrong" bins.
I do not believe in any of it. I see my job as bringing more tango dancers together rather than labeling them apart. I see my job as helping them develop the knowledge, the insight, and the skills to enjoy dancing with more partners, better, more confidently, and with the shackles of "styles" removed from their feet, and with their embraces transformed from "style" prisons into spaces for creating beautiful things to the music.
I see my job as teaching tango dancers to also think about the dance. Think, observe carefully, and ask smart, insightful questions. That helps to learn to dance well.
In my private coaching lessons, as in my group classes, I have these gifts to offer you in return for very reasonable hourly rates:
1) Somehow, I am able to SEE things in body movement that few other teachers can see. I can also SENSE those things when I dance with a student. That's not all: I can articulate what I see and what I sense in ways that YOU can use to improve your dancing. This is something I have, and I know it is not a common trait where it matters: among dance teachers.
2) I teach in plain spoken words, concepts, and examples that are unambiguous, unmistakable, and fool-proof in their clarity and utility. I don't pretend to be able to teach about romance, passion, love, elegance, smooth, ... and all the other subjective things that mean different things to different people.
3) I not only teach you how to dance well, but I teach you a method for learning tango. The benefits of learning this method go far beyond what in tango dancing you learn directly from me. I don't know the exact economic and other values of this, but I know they are high, and I know you cannot learn this elsewhere, anywhere, in Southern California.
4) I prove to you the important fact that the subtly implied distinction between social tango dancing, and dancing with supposedly high level of technique and musicality in performances by professionals, is the most successful yet most contradictory and shameful marketing gimmick in Argentine tango today: The me-too "professional" regurgitating eye candy for applause; you and I only good enough to pay for the right to applaud and the privilege to have the bread crumbs of "just social dancing".
5) Finally, I believe it is very important that the tango teacher is not only competent and qualified, but also loves his/her work. I love my work as a tango teacher. I am obsessed with bringing out the best in every student according to that student's strengths and objectives.
So, while you have hundreds of choices here in Southern California (yes; there are hundreds of people teaching tango), there is only one teacher that can offer you what I explained, and I am that one teacher.
You can learn, I can teach you, to enjoy dancing socially on crowded floors better than most if not all "professionals" whom you will meet dancing with the whole floor just theirs. You can if you want to, and I can help bring out the best tango dancer in you!
If you have performing and/or true professional aspirations, we can work accordingly, depending on your short and long-term objectives and your realistic expectations commensurate with the strength of your commitment.
Some of my students have been very kind to give unsolicited feedback about the work I do. I am grateful to them, and you can see samples by clicking on this like.
Looking forward to teaching and sharing with you what I know, in Los Angeles, Ventura, Santa Barbara counties,
To schedule a private lesson, send an email to