Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ask Helaine Part 2: Which figures do you like to teach?

This is my response to Part 2 of Michael Daniels' question.  You can see my response to the first part of his question here

Michael adds:

"I'd also like to know which figures you like to teach."

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I wonder why you want to know this, Michael! 

My response will not be what you might expect.  Here’s why:

In 2012, after about 12 years of teaching regular classes and private lessons full-time, first all over the region of Umbria, Italy, and then in SW Florida, I changed my teaching model and closed my studio. 

It’s not necessary for me to teach figures anymore. This makes me so happy because I believe that the concepts and skills that I teach are much more important to you than figures.  

I used teach a program of about 30 figures in my beginner through intermediate classes. But in time I realized that nobody needs me to teach figures, because you can get figures from thousands of other teachers around the world! 

My entire purpose for being a tango educator is to empower tangueros, and also tangueras.  I want more than anything that they become confident and relaxed on the dance floor, can fluidly express themselves to the music that they love, share a beautiful connection with their partners, and leave every milonga happy.  My 20 years of tango experience taught me that teaching figures does not accomplish that.

The people who come to me are not looking for figures. I discovered that they are aching for another kind of information and support!  

Regarding figures they want to know:
  • how to execute figures without losing their balance, 
  • how to put figures together in a meaningful way,
  • how to lead figures better (or follow better), 
  • how to choose and combine figures using good musicality, 
  • how within the figure to increase their connection with their partners. 
And almost all tangueros and tangueras who ask my help want to know:
  • regardless of figures, how to increase their self-confidence on the dance floor!

People tell me that they learn lots of figures in classes, workshops and private lessons, and they also may learn some technique, but most still have their struggles on the dance floor.

So I gave up teaching figures and instead created a SYSTEM to help tangueros use figures and walks to improvise their tango.  “The Rose Vine Strategy of Tango Improvisation” gives you a structured template that puts you in total control of what you’re doing on the dance floor, even when you have limited space.  Ironically, working with such a well-defined template gives you more freedom in your personal expression!

My “Rose Vine Strategy” uses: 
  • 7 walks (3 in parallel and 4 in crossed system), 
  • 4 traveling figures, 
  • and 6 stationary/circular figures and some variations.  
But they are figures I rarely have to teach (except for some of the circular versions), because most of them you all learned  when you were advanced beginners!

Once you’ve learned the System, which takes just a few weeks, you can dance like an artist for the rest of your life, using just these 20 simple structures:  the walks, traveling figures, circular/stationary figures and a few variations.

The System helps tangueros to better utilize every figure they've ever learned, and every figure they will learn in the future.  

And to solve one more problem that keeps coming up over and over in conversations with tangueros, I’ve just introduced a new training component that especially empowers tangueros to dance freely and happily in crowded milongas. That’s where tangueros often experience anxiety and frustration.  It’s about “avoiding the TRAFFIC PANIC”.

When you have the right strategy, you only need a few simple figures and walks to dance beautiful, heartfelt, elegant tango, like what you observe in some of the top milongas in Buenos Aires.  Musicality can transform the most limited vocabulary of figures into a work of art!  “The Rose Vine Strategy of Tango Improvisation” works hand in hand with my “Tango Musicality Mojo” program.  

So thanks for asking these two stimulating questions, Michael!  Now I'd like to offer a gift of my time to you and 9 other tangueros:

For the rest of April, I’m offering no-cost, 30-minute consultations to the first 10 people to respond, to help you get clarity about how you can better use figures when you improvise in the milonga.  Visit my scheduling page at and book your best time from my available time slots. If our times available don’t work for you because of your time zone or other reasons, email to request a different time.

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Have any observations or feedback?  Please share it with us in the comments area below this post!

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