with Graham and Nathalie
Unlike dance styles that are based around choreography or known sequences of moves and steps, tango is what is known as an improvised dance style. This means that every time a leader and follower take to the dance floor, the result is likely to be slightly different to anything they have done before. This can be tricky to get used to at first, and new dancers often find that the best way to learn is to start by repeating a sequence of steps until they get it right. But if you do that often enough with the same partner you will both find that you are predicting what the other one will be doing as you already know how they will move or react.
This works... right up to the moment where you try dancing with anyone else and you find that they do things completely differently. You then realise that you were not leading or following, you were just repeating a sequence in synchronisation with your partner.
In a group class you regularly get the chance to swap partners, and every new partner gives you a new way of thinking about the move or technique being learned. Everyone leads or follows slightly differently so what works with one person may not work quite the same with another, and that variety helps us to understand much better what is going on.
Our tango classes are generally split into two parts: we start with a Fundamentals section that is suitable for anyone including absolute beginners, and then we move on to something aimed more at Improvers or the more experienced. We also try to include as much practice time as possible in the evening, so you do not only get to learn, you get to try things out too (and ask questions).
You are always welcome at any of our classes even if it is your first time on a dance floor of any kind! The first part of the class will give you an introduction to the dance and teach you some basics, and then in the second part of the class you can work with Nathalie to practice ad expand on what you have learned, whilst Graham continues to work with the rest of the group on the more complicated stuff. So regardless of your level, you still get the full length of class.
When you decide to do the more advanced part of the evening is up to you. We do not grade you and there are no assessments to pass or exams to take before you can move up from one to the next. But we do stress over and over again that the fundamentals are the hardest part to learn, and that whilst you are free to try the Improvers' class whenever you feel ready, until you have a good grasp of the fundamentals you may well find the next class frustrating as you won't know why things aren't working.
In this part of the evening we always focus on one or more of the fundamentals of tango. Whereas some other dances are all about the steps or the joining together of a sequence of moves, tango is based on connection, position, weight, axis, frame... all things that can be hard to learn out of context. To make it more approachable we teach it using exercises and routines that help you to pick up those concepts by doing, but we emphasise the techniques that you are learning along the way.
The second part of the class can be a little more variable and challenging than the first, as we tend to look at different things every week. Sometimes we will focus on specific parts of tango technique, whereas in other weeks we may introduce or re-visit one of the more complicated moves or sequences that make tango so recognisable.
After the classes we always try to leave enough time to practice what you have learned. You can also ask questions and get one-to-one help for anything you did not understand.