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Tango Workshops: Taking your Tango to the Next Level

The best tango dancers and teachers are usually traveling and teaching other experienced tango dancers around the world. To take your dancing to the next level, I strongly believe you should take workshops, attend tango festivals, and soak in as much knowledge as you can from the Tango Maestros.

Ochos at the Australian Tango Festival

Considerations of Tango Workshops

  • Do you like the way they dance? This is where you have to make your own judgment and ask yourself if you want to move like them.
  • Ask people in the Tango community if they have taken classes with that maestro. If so, did they learn a lot? Did the teacher make adjustments and provide feedback or just taught patterns without making corrections?
  • Do you have a regular partner to practice with? If so, can they come? If they can, this was will make it more effective to implement. Alternatively, if your partner cannot attend you can teach your partner the movements and technique the next day. You are more likely to remember and implement your knowledge if you execute the movement and technique shortly afterwards.

Beneficial for you if…

  • You’ve been dancing Tango, have the foundations, and know various patterns
  • Realize that Argentine Tango is something you want to invest time, money, and energy into
  • Desire improve your technique

Tips

  • Stand in the front row or close to the front for more visibility
  • Bring a dance partner you practice with frequently. If they can’t make it, teach them the movement and technique the next day
  • Record the video of the pattern learned after the class if the teachers permits it
  • Take notes on things you’ve learned and want to apply to your dancing. Type it up and refer to it periodically.

Cost

Tango professionals charge anywhere from $15-$50 for a group class. They are priced higher than local maestros not only because of their knowledge and expertise, but also because the inviting studio pays for there flights, accomodation, and the couple usually performs at the host’s Milonga.


Private lessons range from $100 + per hour. It’s good to book in early so you can get into a desired time slot.

Ladies Tango Technique Workshops

I have had a lot of amazing Tango teachers, however a majority of my local teachers were men. Whenever a female tanguera is in town, I highly recommend taking a class with them! I have learned body mechanics and embellishments from mostly leaders, however it’s always great to learn from an experienced follower! Here are the women I recommend and why.

Mariana Montes at the Singapore Tango Festival

Mariana Montes- Best female technique workshop I have ever taken. Lots of great exercises for linear and circular movements, incorporating counter body and arm/ embrace exercise that you can do by yourself. She made a lot of body adjustments, rib cage, pushing the core in, and feet through out the workshop, which I appreciated.

Maureen Urrego– Made lots of adjustments with the feet and circular movements during the group class. I also took a private lesson with her and Carlos Urrego who helped me further with this.

Moira Castellano– Made physical adjustments and useful tips on dissociation

Sigrid Van Tilbeurgh– Explains the body mechanics for boleos, ochos, and giros. She even had a board displaying the human body and pointed to each part of the body that should be activating

Juana Sepulveda– She is tiny, but her boleos are huge! Her class was massive, but she corrected and danced with many of the ladies.

Glad I went, but wouldn’t take again

Roxana Suarez– She gave lots of exercise for linear movements, however did not make any physical adjustments. Very approachable and friendly.

Yanina Quinones- Lots of exercise on circular movements like boleos and ochos. Didn’t make many corrections, but a great dancer!

Bucket List

On my bucket list is Eleonora Kalganova! I love her solo videos on YouTube where she practices holding a bar or against a wall.

Tango Couples to Take Workshops From

Carlos and Maureen Urrego– Carlos is great at explaining the upper body movements when leading and Maureen is not shy to correct you multiple times on the same mistake, which I appreciate.

Claudio Peralta and Janna Lopez – Really enjoyed their Stage Tango workshop. Claudio explains in Spanish and Janna explains in English the body mechanics of each movement.

Gianpiero Gialdi and Maria Filali- The best workshops were on musicality and syncopation. Now it’s easier for me to use my body as an instrument and hear syncopation more clearly.

Tango Teachers I do NOT recommend taking Workshops With

Javier Rodriguez- He made some funny analogies about Tango and he is entertaining, but was quite arrogant. I went to his workshops because his technique is flawless. Also, my partner and I like his older material when he danced with Geraldine Rodriguez. However he didn’t give much personal attention to attendees.

Javier Rodriguez and Moira Castellano Workshop in Sydney, Australia

Claudio Villagra & Helena Hernandez- They are very dynamic duo to watch, however they didn’t provide much technique adjustments in the workshop. I also went when I was dancing less than a year so maybe they thought I couldn’t take the constructive criticism.

In the End

Take workshops with people you admire as dancers! It means you are serious in taking your Tango to the next level if you use that knowledge to improve your dancing. If you want to go for the fun atmosphere and meet your favourite tango dancers in person, that’s also fine, but ultimately you should be attending the workshops to improve your dancing.

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How to Choose a Tango Partner

Argentine Tango pose black and white
Argentine Tango pose black and white

Getting better at any partner dance, whether it’s Argentine Tango, ballroom dance, or salsa is much more enjoyable when you have a consistent partner to practice with. Here are some guidelines for picking the perfect Tango partner.

Partner Dance Essentials
Willingness to Learn

Tango is a never ending learning game. You have to gain and retain knowledge to really enjoy the dance.

Similar Height

This makes it easier to find the other person’s center, axis, leverage volcadas (leaning in), and colgadas (leaning out).

Similar Goals

It important to know what your partner desires to achieve. Does the other person wants to reach a certain level, perform, apply their learning to a social events like milongas/ practicas, exercise, make friends, improve posture, and/ or learn something new? It’s good to figure out their motivation early on so you understand why they are learning to dance and what areas your partner will enjoy working on more than others.

Dance Chemistry

Some people are fantastic dancers to watch, but when you dance with them, it’s like being thrown around like a burger on a frying pan. This could be due to dance chemistry and how the other person responds to your movements. Men are much more visual so looks can play a large part, however women respond more to how the partner makes them feel.

Ability Level

Are they a good tango dancer? Is this someone who can challenge and inspire you to get better? If they are not the greatest, do they have the potential to be? Are they proactive with their learning? The ability or potential is an important factor that needs to be considered.

Common Courtesy for your Partner

Show up on Time

They are taking time out of their day to practice with you. Make it worth both of your while.

Good hygiene

Brush your teeth, shower, and avoid strong perfumes/ colognes. If you smoke, avoid smoking in your home so it doesn’t sink into your clothes.

Be Respectful, Patient, and Positive

Just because someone does not get the move the first time does not mean they are not “tango worthy.” They are processing lots of new information and for some dancers it takes longer to break down the step.

Favourable Dance Partner Attributes

Music Taste

Your body is an instrument in Tango. Liking the same style of music or artists is great, whether it’s nuevo, traditional, or the latest Katy Perry song. It’s important to keep in mind some dancers dislike obvious rhythmic music like Canaro and Donato, while others love interpreting songs with no clear rhythm like Pugliese and Bajofondo.

How You Learn

People who take longer to learn may retain information in the long term versus people who mimic the movement quickly may not remember it the following week. There are so many different ways people learn, whether it’s through copying the movement, kinaesthetically, explaining the body mechanics, or a mixture of these elements. Having somebody that learns similarly or complements your weaknesses can be a fantastic learning dynamic.

Learning Material

Brings additional dance material that was not learned in class. This could be informative blogs or videos they found online. Tangomeet.com is a great resource of expert Maestros around the world.

Practices by Themselves

Things that can be worked on like embellishments, enrosques, and ochos can be practiced with a small wooden surface at home, at the studio before class, or at the gym. Your balance and coordination is your own responsibility. Making sure you can perform the movement without taking the other person off axis is greatly appreciated!

Duration

They can dance the same time duration. I had a dance partner for 2 years who could dance 8 hours and be completely energized, however my limit was 4 hours. So Sundays he would dance with me for 4 hours, which I made clear was my threshold and then he would go to practica for an additional 4 hours. It’s okay to be upfront, compromise, and set your limitations so you can plan your desired practice time accordingly.

Body Fundamentals

Strong core and posture is something to be worked on constantly. In Argentine Tango, you are both leveraging yourself off the other person and having a strong center makes dancing much more effortless. Also, imagining a string being pulled upwards can help maintain your axis at all times, involving lots of self awareness.

Final Thoughts

Everyone has their own preferences on who they choose as a dance partner. We are all human and maybe there are things that your partner needs to work on are forgiving, like showing up 15 minutes late or they don’t have the greatest posture, however you know they are actively working on it.

You need to weigh the pros and cons to see if this person is worth investing your time in. Dancing is something to be enjoyed. If it starts to feel like a chore to dance with somebody, it may be time to move on. Maybe you are not the right fit for each other. You can always say hi at Milongas and in class. Just because you have practiced with them before does not mean you have an obligation to dance with them forever.