mistakes

JUST START MOVING

Technique is important. We listen carefully to our instructors, and work hard to understand the concepts designed to help make us good leaders and followers. 


But we can’t get through a figure simply by thinking our way through it. If we try, we’ll lock up, get stuck, and become frustrated. 

Instead, we have to put the dance into motion...to just start! 

It might not be perfect at first, but that’s what practice is for. The more willing we are to move, the better we’ll be at trusting our bodies to execute what our brains know. By moving, we might make mistakes. At the same time, being in motion gives us the best chance of getting it right. 

But we’ll never be right if we just stand still.

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EVERYONE IS SCARED...OF THEMSELVES

Milongas seem intimidating at first glance. Often, the attendees are all dressed up and looking sharp. Not only does everyone want to dress well, they also want to look good on the dance floor. 

But once out there, instead of dancing our best, our minds are preoccupied with avoiding mistakes and the fear of judgement. But by focusing so much on avoiding mistakes, we are also - consciously or not - announcing to all that we're afraid of expressing who we really are. 

However, tango is the best place to fully embrace (pun intended) our true personalities. Only by doing so will be have a chance of looking good in front of everyone. So don't hold back. Don't be afraid of who you are.

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LET BEGINNERS MAKE MISTAKES

A lot of novice tango dancers are understandably timid. Although they've mustered the courage to show up to a milonga, it's a new environment and can be intimidating at first. Many experienced dancers try to help by taking them out on the dance floor, and that's great.

And once out on the dance floor, we experienced dancers make an effort to keep things simple for the novices. But we have to be careful not to make things too easy. If we spoon-feed them by making up for their mistakes or compromising our own form, we'll tacitly encourage bad habits. 

We should definitely get a feel for what our partners can or can't keep up with, and challenge them just enough. At the same time, we have to allow beginners to make mistakes. It's hard to let someone feel the full brunt of an error, because we remember how uncomfortable it can be. The purpose, of course, is not to shame beginners or scare them away. Instead, we're helping them build the fortitude to keep going on their tango journey.

If we made it through our bumpy beginner phase without being coddled too much, they can too.

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A MATTER OF DEGREES

To do tango steps correctly, we must learn to move and step with a high degree of precision. For instance, if we don't step far enough, don't pivot and ocho enough, etc, the figure won't feel good. Or, it won't work altogether.

This can be frustrating!

To cut down on that frustration, perhaps we need a sift in mindset. When we make mistakes in tango, it's true that we haven't been precise. But when something feels wrong, let's not always assume it's because we've made a huge mistake. On a technical level, it often means we were very close to being right.

With that mindset, trying again is much more palatable.

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