I broke my rule to take Jorge Torres's classes. Usually, I don't sign up for classes from a teacher I haven't seen dance socially. I have very little money available to spend for lessons, so I want to know how a teacher handles himself, or herself, on the social dance floor. That isn't always possible, but it is my preference. In this case, enough people told me to take his workshops, and if possible a private, that I decided not to wait and just book on faith. No fewer than 10 people personally recommended Torres to me - and they did so quite emphatically. They called him "The Philosopher." They recommended his technique, posture and balance training very highly and since that's what I'm always after, I couldn't very well resist.
I attended all 7 classes and shared a private lesson with one of my dance partners over the course of 4 days. The balance and technique classes that Jorge Torres is so famous for were very challenging for me - and for many of my classmates. Maintaining my balance just standing still can be a challenge lately - but through turns it was even more challenging. Plus, I'm still not quite up to speed after my surgery, so I had to sit out more than I would have liked, but I still enjoyed the classes.
Well . .. enjoyed might not be quite the right word.
A conversation -
Me (to my classmate during a break), "Damn it! I finally got it (the balance exercise we were working on), did it correctly for like 10 seconds, then he (Jorge) walks up and it fell apart and I went the wrong way. Crap. Now he's going to think I can't follow simple directions"
Classmate, "Wow. At least you had 10 seconds."
So "enjoyed" might be overstating it. The classes were tough - certainly tougher than they seemed like they would be. They did follow a very logical progression, however - and that made them very worthwhile. The balance and technique exercises stressed disassociation and groundedness, especially through turns and quick changes of direction, and then were immediately incorporated into the turns we learned in the next class, for example.
This is usually when I get the argument that one doesn't need technique classes to dance tango.
Do you need yoga or Pilates or balance exercises to dance social tango? No. You can dance without them. But the truth is, I dance far better with them. I feel better. I avoid injury more easily. I adapt to my partners better. And it never fails that after I've really spent the time and effort working on those things outside of the milonga - I get far more compliments, and blissful dances, inside the milonga. After these classes in particular, I got more compliments on my dancing all weekend. I felt "stable", "fluid", "responsive", "solid", "connected". Wow. So I'm going to keep at it while it continues to bring such positive reinforcement.
Update: It's been a couple of weeks since the workshop and I'm still working the balance exercises. It's slow but steady progress. If you have the opportunity to study with Jorge, I very highly recommend his classes.
Mari... I am glad that you are up and keeping active after your surgery. Even with inline skating on a half-pipe, learning to snowboard at 49 yrs of age, and learning also at 49 to ride a unicycle still leaves me needing to improve on balance. It's still a challenge. Some people have the talent; the rest of us have to work on it. I hope to have the chance to learn from Jorge. -- Besos, Mark
I think balance exercises of all kinds are great for improving your tango. And if it works for you, do it! But I do think the most efficient balance exercises for tango are those which are based on specific tango movements: enrosques, planeos, maripositas from forward and backward ochos and diagonals, spot turns with agujas, jumps with boleos (even if you never plan to dance any jumps), etc. (depending of course on your level). I don't see how anyone can possibly argue that not having good balance is a benefit in tango -- or in life!
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