Teachers with skin in the game



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Teachers’ demystification

It was my first musicality workshop. 4 years ago. A couple of young teachers visiting Frankfurt for a series of lessons for a whole weekend. In the afternoon, the classes would be followed by milongas. I never heard of the teachers, but I have never gone into musicality lessons before too. Not to mention a whole weekend of them. So, I signed up. It turned out to be one of the most influential lessons for my dance. Really…. even to this day, I remember the fun and the points made in this seminar some of which I used as inspiration for some of the blog posts here.

In the afternoon milonga after the classes, I was really surprised by the attitude of the teaching couple. They were sitting and enjoying the milonga like all of us. There was no reserved table for them… they were not dressed up… they did not perform… they did not attract much attention… they danced quite a lot (for teachers attending a milonga) and they were having fun like all of us. What made an even bigger impression (compared to what I knew from my teacher so far) was how much this new couple danced with other partners. Many of them were students that attended the classes before.

Until that day, I had an impression in my mind of teachers being a bit distant in a milonga. Teachers were usually either DJing or organizing milongas and dancing only a couple of tandas with very few selected advanced students. Being a teacher in other subjects myself I understood this as I also was trying to keep a distance from my students. It was a principle of not mixing business with pleasure. Under different circumstances, we could be hanging out together in a bar like friends. Anyway, I did not consider myself an advanced dancer (I still do not) and I never thought that it would be possible for me to dance with a teacher of mine.

But here she was. Sitting almost opposite of me and looking generally in the direction of the dancefloor, signaling somehow that she is open to invitations. So an internal dialog started in my head. In the beginning, I was telling myself… “No… don’t even think to cabeceo her… there is no way she will even see you… and if she does she will probably ignore you… after all, she was teaching us just a couple of hours ago… we are not the same… and she will probably be tired too… and I don’t think she is in the mood for dancing… and… and… “. I was inventing so many excuses. Until another me (you know… like the little devil and angel side) said… “You know what? Even if she ignores you… you don’t have anything to lose… It’s just a nod after all… and if you don’t do it now… you will be in doubt for days… weeks… you will never know if she would have said yes or no. So… Just do it!”… and I did!… And to my surprise, she accepted!… And I don’t remember much after that. Just my heart beating like crazy from the anxiety! I don’t need to mention what a wonderful tanda it was!

Teachers just wanna have fun

Until then, I had the opportunity to dance a few more times with her. The most recent one was a few weeks ago in a tanda of Pugliese that I will remember for a long time (if not forever). But it’s not only her. Her partner also has the same attitude in the milonga. He’s always there to have fun, chat, joke and most importantly dance with people even if they were his students a few minutes ago. It’s like in the milonga the roles of teacher and student are lost.

A few weeks ago I was writing about event organizers who have skin in the game. Organizers who organize events with the main goal for them to have fun in the first place. They organize events where they can dance their asses off in the first place. Like chefs who eat the meals they cook. After dancing my latest tanda with the teacher I mentioned before, it dawned on me. Apart from event organizers, there are also teachers who have this same attitude… who get their skin in the game… who eat the food they just cooked… who dance with the students they just taught.

As a teacher (not on Tango) I never had the chance to work on the field with any of my students to be able to experience something similar. I can only imagine the pleasure, joy, and pride of a teacher to finally work and collaborate in dancing with their students as equals. And finally, I can now understand the behavior of such teachers in milongas. Their motives for teaching can vary from financial to status to love of the dance and so many others… but their ultimate motive to keep teaching is one. They just want to have more dancers to enjoy their dance with them. They just want to have more possibilities to have fun! After all, they want to get back something from their work… right from their own students.

Earlier, I wrote that as a teacher I almost never mixed up and hung out with my students. The rare cases that this happened were only after they graduated. As a student, however, I feel those teachers are more like friends of mine rather than teachers. This is why I now have an even bigger appreciation and respect for their job!

Keep it coming guys… I love you!

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango

Tonight’s Goodnight Tango is of course dedicated to this couple of teachers… and it comes from the most impactful lesson I ever got from them (on this first weekend 4 years ago). It’s kind of an inside joke because they know how they ruined it for me… but it was totally worth it!


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