This is a simple question to share with everyone. When we think about the process of learning this dance and  start taking lessons and, to be more precise, Private lessons, should we start out taking them from a Woman or a Man?

It has been my observation that in the US, where I’ve resided since 2005, the tendency is that women take lessons from men and vice versa.  If this tendency is correct, is it the best way to start?

When I started dancing in 1998, private lessons were not an option for me for various reasons: I was not aware of their existence, couldn’t find the correct teacher and, of course, money, which was probably the main reason.  I didn’t have money and I thought the group lessons were enough.  Back then I never thought of myself as “a dancer”.  In going to the milongas and performances I saw some dancers who showed they had some skill or talent I wasn’t seeing in the group classes and I decided to save up to take some private lessons from some of these dancers. This teachers were MEN. I wanted to learn something specific that they did, a way to do a certain move, enrosque, leading a boleo, interpretation of the music and such.

Why?

Because I reasoned if I were going to be a leader in this dance I would be better off learning from a leader, someone who was going to teach and explain to me how to do certain things.  What rotation is used here, how to pivot, when, how much. How to embrace, the posture, the walk – oh, the walk, they drove me nuts with it.

I AM NOT SAYING THAT WOMEN SHOULDN’T TEACH HOW TO LEAD OR TEACH MEN HOW TO DANCE.

On the other hand, if a woman wants to dance, I believe she would be better off learning how to follow from a woman.

Ideally, I think the best thing is taking from both men and women.  If you are a man, the man teacher will teach you how to do things, and the woman will teach you how those things feel.  If you are a woman and you want to learn how to follow, you must learn form a follower and the man will tell you how those things you learned feel.

The thing is that what I said some paragraphs ago, is that maybe, men like to take lessons with women, because they are only seeing the feeling aspect of the dance. They want the feedback from a woman, because they are able to dance alone for an hour or however long the private lesson lasts. The disadvantage could be that she feels the movement is great or whatever she is lead to but with the cost of the man applying a bad technique. When we dance, sometimes it’s difficult to see how are the feet being placed, or what muscles are being used in order to succeed in this or that combination. The same happens with women who only take lessons from men.  A man can tell you how to move, feel you during the lesson, but the walking, pivoting, technique of the woman is very specific.

AGAIN: I’M SURE THERE ARE LOTS OF WOMEN WHO TEACH AS WELL AS MEN AND VICE VERSA

I think I do a very good job whether I’m teaching men or women, but Silvina, my partner, knows so much more about the body movement, the muscles, posture in the woman, that many times students of mine want for some lessons with her because I could not explain what it was what they were needing in order to achieve that specific walk in this dance.

Many times I thought men here in the US are a little afraid to take lessons and hold another man in order to dance this dance. Maybe they don’t think a man is going to teach them how to do things. Maybe they are more interested in having the feedback from a woman and the technique eventually could be upgraded later. Maybe also it’s a question of ego, not willing to learn from another man.

IMHO

Oliver

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