We believe that first you must learn the nuances of the dance, learn what makes this dance different from any other Latin dance. Each dance has certain techniques that create the identity of that particular dance; just as Rumba and Salsa have their techniques, Argentine tango as well. In this dance, musicality must be learned concurrently with the patterns to be able to interpret the music through dance.
Learn to visually identify the 30 core elements of Argentine Tango and label them correctly. There are only a certain amount of elements that create the dance of Argentine Tango; recognizing these will allow you to learn patterns more easily once you know which element a pattern is built around. Remember to use the elements as building blocks, that combined together make up the patterns. Many times one can be overwhelmed by the wow factor, then all they can concentrate on is trying to accomplish the entire pattern without thinking about the core element that it’s built around.
Learn how to perform the 30 core elements of Argentine Tango. Learn the first ten core elements of Argentine Tango until you can perform them from memory, then proceed to the next ten, and so forth. Don’t worry about doing everything to perfection; just work on leading or following your partner through the elements.
You will be excited to start learning the multitude of patterns that your instructors will have to offer yet concentrate on working on the elements themselves or alongside the patterns. Don’t forsake learning the elements just to learn patterns. Forsaking the elements will cause you to get frustrated and take much longer to learn the dance. While in Tango classes ask the teacher to correct you, don’t hesitate to ask: You are paying for the class! You should dedicate at least six months to a year at each level. Don’t be in a rush to move up from a basic level to intermediate or advanced. The reason why it doesn’t matter is because if you have a sound basic structure and vary your entries and exits it doesn’t matter what level you are. Also when you go out to dance there are very few dancers that can follow patterns beyond intermediate anyway. Everyone works on the basics continually throughout their dance experience. I will be teaching ten elements at each level along with associated patterns that provide different entries and exits to the elements.
Fourthly: Listen and distinguish what you are listening for in the different orchestras for Argentine Tango.
There are five main orchestra families in Argentine Tango. Start listening to the musicality by orchestra this will assist you in starting to distinguish one orchestra from the next and open up your mindset to the variety that the music has and how you can actually change the speed and length of your steps to fit the music. Most instructors use Disarli to teach. I have found that people will get stuck only learning how to dance to Disarli and their dance becomes single faceted. Most people end up dancing the same style and rhythm to all orchestras. I do recommend that you practice listening to Disarli first since it is single time yet listen to and understand the other orchestras and their characteristics.
Lastly: Start to create a video library to retain and be able to practice all that you have learned
We all would like to think we can remember everything although we know this does not happen. By creating a video library you will be reinforcing your mental library. Even if you don’t refer back to your video library regularly. Mentally, you will remember how you file things and therefore improve you memory and recall patterns more easily. File items according to the elements of the dance. Remember to return and review musicality continually forcing yourself to practice different rhythms. As you increase your ability to recognize the music return to the musicality to reinforce your understanding of the different rhythms.