The Sunday, February 4, 2018 issue of Parade, the Sunday newspaper supplement, had a couple of articles with notes for teachers of Argentine tango.
First, in the Personality section Bode Miller, the most decorated US Olympic alpine skier, talked about advice to young skiers. “Ski racing is, fundamentally, a very simple sport. It’s about going from point A to point B quickly. I think it’s easy to get distracted and start thinking that you have to look a certain way or have to do a certain thing.”
Argentine tango (escenario, stage/performance tango aside) relies on natural, functional movements. It’s either shifting our weight from one foot to the other (forward/backward/sideways, over a long/short/no distance, walking/momentary), or it’s pivoting over a foot. Teachers can confuse and drive away newcomers by insistence on a particular posture, look, manner, and style of walking. Let’s first get them moving comfortably and naturally alone and then with a partner.
Then in the Ask Marilyn column Marilyn Vos Savant weighed in on gender differences in left-right confusion. Let us as teachers make it simpler for all (including ourselves) regardless of gender or left-right awareness, by avoiding relative references (“My left or your left?”) altogether. I like talking about the hand-side of the embrace or the arm-side of the embrace. These are clear and obvious, and the same for either partner.
I’m still looking for the best way to refer to Inside-Outside positions. You are aware that it changes relative to which partner is stepping into the space, yes? “Is that inside/outside the circle (la ronda),” and “Is that outside the inside of my partner?” The DVIDA syllabus refers to LOP (Left Outside Position) and ROP (Right Outside Position), which have the benefit of being unambiguous for either partner stepping in any direction, but also have the left-right possible confusion factor.
When it’s necessary/useful to orient students in the room we prefer to have them face or face their back to some prominent feature of the room (our front windows, the mirrors, the paintings, the Exit sign).
Setting up la ronda: “Everyone spread out to the edges of the floor, with equal space between you and the person on either side of you. Raise your right hand to point to the person on your right side. [Right, it’s not perfect.] Now turn to face in that direction.”