The Art of choreography– learning and remembering sequences

How many times does a teacher need to tells us…?
Tango is an improvisational dance. Remembering sequences is not important!

And yet here we are… in another milonga doing the same thing over and over again, dance after dance and getting frustrated!

The truth about improvisation in Tango

Just for the record, I want to say that I fully agree with you!

Now that we set the record straight…haha…
Why are talking here briefly about improvisation?
Because the first step to improvising is putting sequences together on the spot..!

Nike’s “just do it” doesn’t apply in milongas or better said it doesn’t apply in the beginning of any activity and for a long time after that…

I will say this though, with no intension to avoid the question, but only to provide some comfort…
In Tango you can do whatever you want as long as you can lead it or as long as you are following
Does this mean that we are in a deep chaos, with no beginning or end?
No, of course not!
It only means that doing something different than what you learned in class, is NOT wrong especially if the other person is still there with you… It is simply different
And it also means that you need to be a bit more courageous and try things, because very few things in Tango are actually wrong…!

You have already taken the big risk of walking into a class and starting something new. That is always a stressful moment, where we feel out of our comfort zone, exposed and vulnerable. But you did it!
You pushed through the taboos, the excuses, the time restrictions and you did it… Isn’t it only fair that you will allow yourself to have fun while growing and learning more and more things in activity you love?

This is therefore what I would like to inspire you to do…. to see that initial step as a big, as a HUGE step. To congratulate yourself for taking it and for not giving up. And lastly to realize that the hardest part of over and that now it is time to have some fun!

Then next time you make a mistake following the tips below, laugh it out and try again!
Learning and practicing Tango can and should be FUN!

Ok! Now it is time for some tips for learning and remembering sequences
  1. Identify the following categories of steps in Tango, as per Pedro Farias*
    1. Linear steps
    2. Circular steps
    3. Off- axis steps
  2. Based on this categorization, rethink of all the sequences you know and use often in Tango
  3. Break each sequence down to 2 parts:
    1. basic building blocks
    2. transition moves
      Your blocks or your transitions will be in one of the above categories–linear, circular or off-axis.
  4. Bring intention into the sequence.
    Try to understand why the teacher chose that block or that transition. You can do that in two ways–which actually work very well together

    1. ask the teacher why..?
    2. find the answer by trying other possible transitions or building blocks.
      Play with it to understand why it works the way it does.
      Lets use an example here… say part of a sequence is a back ocho, could you possibly do it with a back step, and if so, where would you end up on the dance floor?
  5. Practice the blocks and the transitions separately
  6. Practice the sequence itself and then practice the same sequence only with the blocks mixed up.
The Art of choreography

The plan above might not be the easiest-6-steps-to-remembering-sequences list, despite the fact that it works… Because though Bautanz was created to make the balance between practice-time and fun-time shift to our favour and therefore make our Tango life easier, I have and extra tip for you…

What does artistically remembering sequences stand for?
Meaning if “remembering sequences” is a skill what is the activity that is based on that skill?

… Learning choreography

Learning a choreography and dancing a choreography, is an activity based on “learning and remembering sequences”. Of course, there is more to choreography than remembering sequences, but this is a story for another article.
For now what is crucial to realize is that our brain doesn’t differentiate Tango steps from contemporary dance steps, for example.
It is all steps to be remembered and therefore exactly the same skill.

If therefore, you want to build on remembering sequences faster you need to add a choreography based activity to your schedule.
This way you are adding extra practice time on the very skill of remembering sequences, avoiding though the burn-out that focusing solely on 1 activity causes.

What kind of activity can you do..?
It can a choreography based dance class (contemporary, hip-hop, jazz etc), a cardio dance class, cardio Hi-lo class, a Zumba class or some types martial arts classes.
And if all of the above sound like too much… you can start with something simple and fun straight from Youtube in the privacy of your own home:
https://youtu.be/RzYegenvzRE

Have fun!
Chrisa
P.S: If you do use the video, follow Andy a couple of times, then try to do it without looking at your screen. When you can do the whole thing without taking a glimpse at the video, it is time for a new song!

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