As new content is presented, past class topics are reviewed. At the same time, teachers should form a dancing structure so that students can apply, on the dancing floor, what they have learnt. Students should be prevented from becoming ‘blank’ on the dancing floor and they should use all concepts developed so far, which are a few but seem a pile for a beginner.
For this reason, I present some movement combinations, where there is a structure of varied dynamics in a complexity order.
We start to build them from the sixth or seventh class, with initial steps. After learning the medialuna, we go on practicing with new figures.
First combination: Walk, stop, opening to cruzada, walk, stop. Front change to the left, walk, stop. Opening, step change, basic of crossed system, walk.
It is a combination of basic movements. Direct system, movement and crossed system.
Second combination: Walk, stop. Opening to cruzada, ochos opposite the follower until finding the dancing line, walk, stop. Front change to the right, stop. Walk, stop. Opening, step change and ochos to the follower's back. Walk.
Third combination: Walk, stop. Opening to cruzada, sacadas with left leg; exit from pattern to the dancing line. Walk, stop. Entering the step from crossed side, exit towards the dancing line. Walk, stop. Opening, step change, backward ochos and sanguchito. Walk.
Fourth combination: Walk, stop. Opening to cruzada, sacadas with right leg, ending towards the dancing line. Walk, stop. Opening step from side as mirror, exit from displacement towards the dancing line. Walk, stop. Opening to changed step, backward ochos and medialuna. Look for dancing floor and walk.
When experienced dancers perform their dance, they develop these kinds of combinations. They move on the dancing floor making figures in direct and crossed systems, along the dancing line and alternating displacements.
We suggest beginners a fixed diagram, which is not so fixed, because they move on the dancing floor and walk making the steps they wish, looking for room to dance. But they have to perform, more than thinking.
It seems as if we are bombarding their ability to improvise. However, what we are doing is giving them the idea of a dancing structure and having them memorizing and putting it into practice.
Teachers could leave students on the dancing floor and tell them: ‘Do whatever comes to your minds.’ There would be content they would never include and we would demand that, besides performing steps and corresponding leading they have learnt, they should make an effort to imagine something they do not have clear yet: how to structure dancing.
Combinations should be an exercise, in a determine order. The idea is that they remember every component. When they learn the combinations, these are broken up and left aside to make the steps in the order students wish. But for this moment, they have integrated content and concepts necessary for figures and displacements they will see in the future. And as they develop the combinations, we can help them with technical problems that prevent them from making figuras smoothly. How long can we have students making movements without any concrete requirement before they get bored? You may think that, if they get bored, they wonder what they are doing in class. But teachers should encourage students’ interest in Tango. We are the bridge from students’ curiosity to loving this dancing. It is not always achieved, but we try to be this.
A change of front to the right is learnt in five minutes. At least this is the time it takes to mimic the mechanics. Including this content in a combination is a more comprehensive task and students are busy in an exercise that has a sense more similar to what they saw at a milonga (or the idea they have about it). And we are giving them the tools to enjoy more.
However, all this is done in a class. When students go to a milonga, they will do what they remember. And that is the content they will actually learn. Combinations can be performed perfectly in a class, but they are not more than a reminder to use when going dancing. It is something temporal.
Once learnt, they are broken up.
Hoping they have kept content and concepts, we go on teaching them new basic movements and figures, so that they can choose from the ones they like the most. Students should have a variety of figures to choose the ones that are more attractive for them and that will be included as their natural selection of movements to use when dancing. They will get rid of some and include others.