Last week we were talking about Tango shoes and specifically heels. This week we will be talking more about style in general and how it might actually affect our judgement when choosing our Tango teacher.
I am sure you are all familiar with the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover”…
Every culture has a phrase that speaks to looks versus skill, warning us not to judge solely based on looks.
However there is also another phrase, “Lead by example” or “Walk the Talk”…
Where basically as a teacher one should actually behave the way they are suggesting their students should.
For example remember how we were saying in our previous post that people in a milonga expect to see dancers in dance shoes, and so dancers who show up in snickers might not get to dance. Well, imagine if I told that in class and then I showed up in a milonga in snickers what would you think of me then?
You would most likely think I am cocky defying the social rules of a milonga as if they don’t apply to teachers…
Or you might think I am super cool and cool kids don’t follow the rules anyway..!
Does this make me a bad teacher?
Well in a way yes, because I am inconsiderate of the etiquette of Tango plus I should be a better example for my students who are joining me.
The bigger question though is… Would heels and an amazing dress make me a good teacher?
When I moved to Canada, I started working for a dance studio, downtown Toronto. And in the beginning not knowing what the dress code actually was, I just went with what I was used to in Greece, meaning a dancer’s attire but still comfortable. As the time went by, I looked for cues from the owner of the studio and other teachers and noticed that a more “everyday” style of attire was established and so following along I started shifting towards that.
A few months went by and I was feeling quite comfortable, walking in comfortable regular Tango dresses. I loved it!
Until, one of my students said to me: “I have noticed that the better you get the less stylish you become”
If you are thinking… Oh NO!
You are right..! Haha
This was the completely wrong message there..!
First off, skill set and attire are really not related and secondly I could be stylish..!
I love being stylish! Darn!
After that I am being extra careful to match what I am teaching with what I am wearing. Meet expectations and at the same time be in an attire that allows me to teach properly..!
So where do we land with all this?
On one hand, I would think it is expected for anyone walking in a class to be able to tell who the teacher is.
On the other hand attire means nothing if the knowledge shared is not the appropriate one.
And lastly, teachers are humans too you know (haha) and maybe sometimes they might need to take a break and just show up to share with us the love for Tango.
My advice to the teachers therefore, would be… and please consider this simply as a suggestion. There are so many beautiful Tango brands out there that offer a great range of Tango outfits, from performance outfits to practice/ fitness attire.
Find one that you like and choose outfits that better express what and how you teach.
For example, I mostly teach technique classes based on anatomy. We start from how our body is built to move and then we use Tango specific exercises so my students can dance better but also move better daily. So sometimes depending on the theme for the class I may need a fitness outfit and others a casual Tango outfit and heels. In this case therefore, I wouldn’t need performance outfits but more informal and comfortable outfits.
My suggestion therefore is for you to see what you teach and match the appropriate outfit to it.
My advice for the students… A first impression is surely important, so my suggestion to you would be to acknowledge that first impression but consciously look beyond it.
You don’t need to put a title over that first impression, good or bad. Only acknowledge it, such as “Oh they are nicely dressed” or “Hm that is strange” (haha) but then consciously decide to listen intently to what they share with you.
Not only about the dance in terms of technique but also about the social aspect of Tango. Decide to look for more and you will be surprised with what you might discover! ;)
Chrisa Assis Founder and teacher of Bautanz- Constructing Dance (bautanz.com)
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