“I prefer taking private lessons and not group classes.”
I just attended a really nice workshop weekend. As I posted happily about my experience on Facebook, I realised something: I see lots of Facebook posts from friends having been to social dance events like marathons and encuentros, but it seems like not so many are inclined to writing the sentence “OMG I just went to this *brilliant* workshop weekend”.
If this really is so, I can think of a couple possible explanations:
1) People don’t want to write on Facebook that they take classes. Maybe we have this little voice inside telling us that “After all these years, you’re STILL taking classes? Better keep it a secret, or people will think that you are really slow.” Even though it’s not true, it could be that taking classes is still associated with lower levels. Or maybe we feel that a workshop weekend is not as glamorous as travelling to an international event. Going to the social events somehow gives the impression that we have a certain level since we’re being accepted into the event, and also that we’re on the inside of the social circles of international tango.
2) People have stopped taking classes and just want to enjoy the fruits of earlier years’ labour. Maybe they are genuinely happy with their current level and that they feel that they are getting a lot from tango already. It could also be that they believe that attending social events and dancing with lots of good dancers will make them improve.
Both of these explanations, if they are indeed true, make me a bit sad. I think tango might grow stronger if the interest in workshops were bigger. One way of making this happen could be to create more buzz around the workshop events. First and foremost, we need more intermediate-to-advanced dancers to swallow their pride (or their laziness) and actually get back into the classroom. And then we need the intermediate-to-advanced dancers to talk about the classes they’re attending, so more people would understand that to improve, it’s vital to get new impulses. Because at least this article here tells us that just dancing socially won’t make you improve much.
I know that not everybody has the opportunity to take classes. But if you do, I really think that attending workshops, and talking about it, will not only improve your own dance, but also help the community to blossom. Don’t get me wrong: private lessons are really important! But they don’t help build the collectiveness in a community the same way a workshop weekend might do, when dancers of all levels gather to learn from the same teachers.
And teachers, this post applies to you as well! Together with the intermediate-to-advanced dancers, you’re setting an example. So if you’re taking classes, talk about it. Show that you’re still interested in improving your own dance. If you’re not taking classes… well, you should.