Being the TA

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We went back to Tango last night with a goal to integrate the new steps into the existing pattern. The Ronde step is still relatively easy because there is less of the dreaded shaping required. But I’m still hung up on the same foot lunge. OwnerGuy tried multiple times to explain this and I was sort of getting it but not totally.

It basically requires stepping into her on my right foot and trying to get my right shoulder forward and over my right foot. He said something like feet, hips and shoulder all lined up. Then, I’m suppose to bring my left shoulder forward a bit to create the shapy shape. I guess I wasn’t getting my right side as forward as it needed to be because I kept pulling my left shoulder away which was the opposite of what they wanted.

Well then OwnerGuy was trying to figure out how put the pieces together. He has us starting with the Ronde which is fine. We actually got into it from the ending step so we could see how easily it looped. But that leaves us in an awkward position with an entire long side of the floor to get down and he couldn’t come up with a good way to get us down the floor.

Eventually, when he hooks it together, we’ll do the four step and then into the same foot lunge. That comes out into promenade which sets up the quick pivots and the rest of the pattern is the same – whisk into something else I don’t know the name of and then to the loop.

Now, I was getting a little bit down towards the end of the lesson. I know I shouldn’t compare myself to OwnerGuy and the way he does the step but I do. I see all the shapy shapes he does and what the Tango is really supposed to look like and then I get frustrated with how much I’m struggling trying to make it happen. This is kind of a theme with certain dances from time to time. When I want to do more but can’t figure out how to make it happen and then I just wonder why I keep banging my head against these walls.

As it turned out, group class was also going to be Tango. As I was finishing up my notes, Z had the basic class and the new guy had the advanced class. I was kind of walking to the advanced class and Z yells out that I’m in her class. Well, I looked in at the advanced class and it was perfectly balanced while the beginner class was large and short on guys.

So, I just decided to join the beginner class. Not really sure why except it seemed like they needed me more. One of the ladies called me the TA which is where the title of this post came from. I did know that with a large group and more followers than leaders, that it was going to be difficult for people to keep up especially given that several had done little to no tango.

She started the step with Tango rocks which was pretty easy for everyone to follow. I had to tell one lady that she needed to just keep walking backward because the first time we did it, she came forward while I was going backward so we didn’t create the separation we needed. Rolling them in and doing the rocks was easy. The only problem was that most of these ladies latched on to my left thumb in shadow position. Guess I’ll have to learn to keep my fingers closed.

Then, for some reason, Z wanted to do a part of the step that should have been an open box where we stayed connected so the man goes under his left arm on the front half and then brings it over the lady on the back half. I think she realized that was going to be a problem so she just told us to drop arms and do the open box.

There is something interesting about going back to the beginning and watching people struggle with the open box. You can easily forget how far you’ve come when the step is second nature to you but confusing to most of the people. Even which way to rotate was a problem.

But you should have seen how badly these ladies wanted to get this step down. With Z trying to explain it to the group, there wasn’t a lot of room for individual attention so that became my job. They’d get to me and most of them were telling me that they didn’t quite get it so I was spending time trying to explain it as we went and trying to point out things I could see that they needed to fix. Normally, I’m not the guy who tries to dancesplain but if you ask for help, I’m more than happy to try and provide it.

The funny thing was that there were two of them who stayed with me after the group class asking me to show them the step a few more times. At one point, the party had started and people were doing a Fox Trot around us but they just wanted to keep practicing. I ended up dancing a Tango with one of them later in the party. She wanted me to call out the steps so I did that as well. She did a reasonably good job for not having done this step before.

I have to admit that it felt a little strange being in a room full of dance instructors and having these ladies ask me to show them a step. Maybe it was just easier to hear coming from another student. But if it helped them enjoy the group class then it was all worth it.

We were also seriously unbalanced at party so I spread myself around more than I normally do. At the end of the night, Z thanked me for staying in her group. I’m still not sure what prompted me to join the beginner group but it was the right thing to do.

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