How to Make the Best use of Practicas

Dart in target bullseye

If you want to improve your tango dancing, you have to practice, of course. Many people go to practicas and just dance, and that’s OK as far as it goes, but sometimes they just dance the way they always dance, without really thinking about what needs improving.

It may be more useful if you practice with an objective in mind. For example, an obvious set of objectives if you’ve just attended a class would be

a) to make sure you can do the figures taught in the class,

b) to make sure you understand the techniques used to perform those figures, and

c) to make sure you can integrate those figures into your normal improvisational dancing.

I would also argue that if you are self aware of your own tango abilities (i.e. you know what you do well, and also what you perform poorly), then you can give yourself objectives related to practicing the things which you know need improvement, or which you have difficulty performing consistently.

If you have teachers at the practica, then you can ask for input just to check your doing things ‘the right way’ (i.e. with reasonable technique, control of balance and axis etc.). They will be able to see problems you might not be aware of and suggest better ways of doing things, as well as exercises you can do at home.

Of course, this relies on you being able to judge your own abilities reasonably well, and being able to accept that you may have faults which need rectifying. Not all people are willing to admit their faults.

If you recognise yourself here (and I accept it’s difficult to have someone tell you you’re not doing things right, even if they have more expertise), then I would ask you this.

  • Do you want to get more dances?
  • Do you want to have people pleased to dance with you, rather than trying to avoid you?

If so, and you are not feeling that this is the case right now, then you may need to put ego aside in order to improve your tango. Judge your tango guides/teachers by what they can do, and how they teach, and let them help you improve. Listen graciously to the feedback from the people who will dance with you, and make a plan to improve.

Also don’t forget to keep doing the things you do well. We can all get a bit jaded and sloppy if we neglect practice on even the basics of tango.

Don’t waste your practice time. Practice with purpose. Put in the right kind of effort, and the Gods of Tango will smile down upon you… 🙂

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