I am often asked how I went from my first Argentine tango class to the semi-finals of the world championships in Buenos Aires in about 6 months. It wasn't because I had a special skill or predisposition. Quite the opposite: I was poorly built for the dance (think wrestler -- a la dancing bear -- physique).
I progressed quickly because I was methodical. Here are three crux keys to learning the tango, addressed here to a man, or any other dance involving a male lead:
1) Find one primary male teacher and one primary female teacher. Too many cooks spoil the broth, and they'll never agree. I don't have my main instructor's contact info (Gabriel Misse's above), but my dance partner is outstanding: Alicia Monti. She now performs at La Ventana. Results will be faster if you also learn the basic female role and the cues she will need to respond to. Dance with a few men -- this is not that unusual, especially if too few women attend a class -- and identify the subtle differences between a weak and strong lead. For the latter, ask the main instructor to demonstrate moves/sequences on you so you so you can "understand the lead" ("para entender mejor la marca").
2) Videotape anything you want to practice, and videotape yourself as early as possible. You'll be much worse than you expect, and you want to see what you're having trouble self-monitoring. I took almost all short clips and named the files after the techniques (whether I made up the name or not). Each evening I would review 5-20 and look at my own footage, practicing a few key moves or postures prior to bed. My TED video has a few such video samples in it.
3) Once you have a basic strong upper body "abrazo", dance with as many women as possible to identify where you are weak. Chances are it will be in rotational moves where you are the axis around which the woman rotates. Have someone like Gabi do this in slow motion and record their head position and arm movement. Looking too far down at your feet often breaks the vertical spinal position you to need to maintain to effectively push a woman around you 360 degrees. Don't bend at the hip.
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