|Picture courtesy of www.morguefile.com
Cherie's recent post here: has got me thinking.
I hear about that attitude of entitlement (that a teacher/organizer etc. owes someone a dance) at the milongas so much these days. Is it my imagination, or is it getting worse? :-/ Community building is hugely important, especially in smaller tango communities - welcoming and engaging new and visiting dancers is crucial. However, to give the impression that one is owed dances or obligated to dance with certain people can create very uncomfortable situations. According to Javier Rochwarger, and several other teachers I've asked, it's especially harmful to carry that attitude if you to Buenos Aires. As I was told, no one owes you anything at any milonga.
Dancing with Teachers
Cherie brings up another point that I've been having trouble with lately. I very rarely look for dances from teachers, especially my own current teachers, during milongas. In fact, I'm not sure if I should admit this, but I avoid it. Much of the time when I do end up dancing with teachers, especially visiting teachers, the entire tanda feels as though I'm being evaluated - as if taking some kind of test.
There are little sighs, tsk tsk's, clearing of the throat, or worse - outright corrections on the pista. I'm dancing socially at the milonga, if I want correction, I'll sign up for lessons - or we can talk about things like that in the next class/lesson (if I'm a current student). There have been exceptions of course - one of my first teachers here in Austin always feels relaxed and in the moment when he dances. He has since the first time I danced with him. There's no trace of ego or judgment in his embrace. And often, when I am no longer a student, a teacher will relax when he asks me to dance purely socially, and dance with me without a hint of appraisal. (To clarify, I do dance with some teachers who seem perfectly capable of dancing socially with me - or at least doing a very good job of hiding it, if they are in evaluation-mode. It tends to be the exception however, not the rule.
I understand the usefulness of a teacher dancing with his or her students in the milonga to check their progress - but I admit I hate the feeling of being "checked on." I know when I'm being evaluated and I can't relax. If you would not really care to dance with me socially if I were not your student, it really is ok not to invite me to dance at the milonga. I want to dance with partners who want to dance with me - not those who feel somehow obligated to take me for a spin.
When I walk into any milonga, I do it with the understanding that no one owes me anything. I work hard on my dance, and I think what I offer in my embrace has value. If I expected people to dance with me because they were "supposed to" for whatever reason, then how can I feel any sense of value in my dance?
I'm really torn on the issue. Is it appropriate to ask a teacher to turn his or her 'teacher mode' off when they dance socially - even with their students? Is it unrealistic?
Is it appropriate to expect a teacher who is at a milonga dancing socially to dance with you in order gauge how you're doing?
How do you feel about dancing socially with teachers?