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The Organic Tango School
The Organic Tango Schoolwith Homer & Cristina

Homer's Road

Dear Reader,

Welcome to my simple tango blog.  Here I will, from time to time, offer a subject for review and comment.  It is usually something that I feel strongly about and can't hold back from expressing my opinion.  However, I am always growing and learning and appreciate feedback - whether it's in direct opposition to my thoughts or in some parallel path. 

Please read, enjoy, and give me your feedback.

Hugs, Homer ;)
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  • 26 Sep 2011 8:04 PM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)

    Today I received an interesting and simple email inquiring about my tango training (from a tango enthusiast named Michael).  It was a moment of reflection and that I thought I should capture in this blog.  Here's my reply:

    Michael, here's the real short answer:  I studying with many folks and practiced with many other folks. 

    Slightly longer explanation:  I took the road of learning a little from everyone so I could take what works best for me and incorporate it into my own personal style.  I don't follow the broad and categorical marketing view of tango styles (although some folks try to place me in one or two of these bins).  This has been a 15 year process and I'm still learning and changing... 

    If you'd like actual names of teachers and practice partners you'd have to spend an afternoon with me while I go through the rather long list.

    Hope this helps, hugs, Homer ;)

  • 18 Jul 2011 3:02 AM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)
    Here's a slightly edited reply to a friend who is interested in becoming a career tango teacher...

    1. Start teaching as soon as possible. Do it for free at first. Help other teachers out in their classes. Try not to ask for money for at least a few months or more if possible.

    2. Don't let go of your day job or other academic pursuit until you absolutely can't do both tango and another career. It's important to have another source of income while you grow as a tango teacher. This will also allow you to take additional classes, travel, make connections.

    3. [Organic] Networking is the most important thing. If you can meet folks that like you (in a natural way without having to sell or marketing yourself) and they like your dancing/teaching you will have lots of work. If you are too forceful or competitive with your community or other teachers it will be difficult to find sustainable work.

    4. When your ready try teaching your own classes.  You can't become a good teacher with experience.  You will make lots of mistakes.  Just admit to your students your limitations.  Also, don't try to own students.  Always help them find the way to grow even if it means other classes with other teachers.  Encourage them to travel to other tango cities/events/etc.

    4.5  Develop your dj'ing at the same time.  If possible also consider slowly learning a musical instrument and playing some tangos.  Singing works just as well.  These activities will pull you deeper into the music and help you express/teach musicality to your students...  Oh, don't forget line of dance and social etiquette (both contemporary and traditional ideas to have well balanced and informed students).

    5.  In my experience you will get what ever you wish for. Just take it slowly and enjoy the experience. I sometimes tell new teachers to "Be Careful What They Wish For" because tango can be hard work. You are self-employed and can easily get too overwhelmed (like teach too many private lessons, travel too much, spend too many hours organizing your work on the internet, etc). You have to be able to find a balance in all of this.

    6. That's why I suggest (again) holding on to a second career as long as possible until you fully develop your tango teaching and dancing skills. Of course, if you really have no choice and must start doing tango full-time then just try to center yourself and hold on to your good friends and some family members who keep you grounded!

    Here are two links related to teaching/dj'ing (including PDF handouts and notes):

    Hugs, Homer ;)
  • 09 May 2011 11:20 AM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)
    Our full organic tango philosophy is displayed in our About Us section (under Our Philosophy).  Here's the essence of it:

        No one owns the tango,
        but we own our own dancing.

        Respect and learn from the past,
        dance in the present,
        and allow the future unfold...

    Organic Tango Thoughts:
    The concept of organic tango started as a small kernel of thought long before we made respective career transitions to become full-time tango teachers.  On the path to our own tango self-actualization, we discovered that each of us are responsible for discovering the true dancer within. 

    After many years of teaching, we realized that the broad use of categorical tango styles, while helpful to the novice social dancer, can become a stumbling block to the more intermediate dancer trying to find their own style.

    Application to Teaching...
    The basic premise behind the organic tango philosophy is to enable each individual dancer to reach their highest level of self-expression and stylistic interpretation while positively integrating themselves into a healthy community.  Note that 'organic tango' is not a style itself and only resides as a philosophy.

    To that extent, The Organic Tango School is the embodiment of this philosophy into a concrete teaching pedagogy.  The essentials of this learning process have been distilled into four branches of tango awareness:

    1.  Awareness of Self
    2.  Awareness of Partner
    3.  Awareness of Music
    4.  Awareness of Surroundings

    In order to attain a high level of 'social tango dance-ability', and ultimately to 'find your own style', the student of the organic tango philosophy and process must constantly develop and refine each of these four branches of awareness.
  • 04 May 2011 11:03 AM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)
    One of the founding members of the very useful and eclectic travel site Tripline, Rick asked me to answer the question:  What is the difference between traditional tango and nuevo tango?  I posted the answer on Tripline and then decided to re-post via this blog on The Organic Tango School.  Here's my answer.  Please feel free to comment...

    Rick, there is a lot of controversy over what is 'traditional' tango and what is 'nuevo' tango. Unfortunately, less experienced social dancers or observers often times look for general categorical definitions of tango dance styles. In general it is a meaningless question to ponder for the more experienced social dancers, but I will try to give you a clear answer...

    As you may know already, or perhaps will discover one day, trying to find an answer to your question leads to community divisiveness and separation. The main reason for this is because the labels of "traditional tango" and "nuevo tango" are primarily marketing concepts attempting to incorrectly and categorically create a definition for two styles of social dance tango that often times appear to have opposite characteristics. Since the globalization of tango in the mid-eighties and throughout the nineties, mainly external influences (US, Europe, Asia, etc) have driven this over generalization and categorization of tango styles to fit into several nice marketable groups. Every so often a new style emerges (i.e. milonguero with a nuevo twist).

    Historically speaking, contemporary proponents of the term 'traditional tango' are those who are trying to preserve a sense of nostalgia over what tango was. It is an attempt to have us reflect back to the Golden Age of tango (approximately mid 1930's thru early 1950's). It is often times a mythological reflection of all the things we imagine the Golden Age to be. Where as 'nuevo tango' emerged from an exploration study group lead by Gustavo Naviera and associates in the mid 1990's. While this group helped solidify a structural approach to the dance it by no means claimed to be 'nuevo tango' until marketing forces again encouraged them to do so.

    In final analysis, and to put it very pragmatically... You are either a good social dancer, or you're not, regardless of categorical style. There are bad 'traditional tango' dancers, good 'nuevo tango' dancers and vice versa. In fact, each experienced dancer will dance their own way and evolve to find their own personal style. Defining one's style in the catagorical sense rather than the individual sense only adds to the confusion and defuses one's ability to really find their own style. The question folks should be more interested in is "What makes a good social tango dancer?"
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