TANGO DANCE & CHILDREN
THE QUESTION OF “TEACHING”
Prof. OLGA BESIO
Teaching children to dance tango is an extremely delicate task, and requires -in addition to solid professional training in teaching and in tango- a permanently creative attitude and spirit of play.
First of all, it is essential to clarify contents, objectives and methods: the “what”, the “what for” and the “how” deserve to be addressed in depth and in detail.
These items, multifaceted in themselves, multiply their variants to the incredible when it comes to children, revealing –beyond what is typical of tango, dance, dance, the traditional, the popular, the scenic, the technical, etc. – Much broader and also deeper connotations, related to the development of personality, socialisation, the evolution of motor skills, etc.
Let us methodically remember the difference between “educating” and merely “teaching”. Immediately, it is necessary to clearly differentiate the objectives (desirable and positive aspects that are expected to be achieved through an educational process appropriate to the case), from the undesirable collateral effects that may occur as a result of extemporaneous or inadequate “teaching”. The contents that we select must be inserted – to achieve desirable results – in a rigorously appropriate methodology for the situation.
An educationally undesirable result could be that a couple of young children try to reproduce – at the wrong time and with technical problems difficult to solve later – some more or less striking sequence learned by heart (“taught” by heart by some adult), for mere repetition totally devoid of meaning, like someone trying to imitate sounds of an unknown language, with the risk, furthermore, that this attitude and this result will be transferred to the future of the incipient dancers.
Let us place ourselves in the plane of the child. Why not propose, for example, a game, where the children hug each other and some lead others on foot, like huge stuffed toys? Spontaneously, the children will arm the hug at the right height and with the necessary firmness and softness. If we combine this with small rhythm games and others that make it possible to understand certain movements (equivalent to what is usually called “technique” for adults), the “miracle” will soon occur: WE WILL SEE THE CHILDREN “WALK THE TANGO” .
The essence and origin of the danced tango shelter in its foundation the dynamics of creation in dialogue –with music and with someone-, which manifests itself in the improvisation in pairs to the beat of the music. This artistic language par excellence is fully dynamic, living, and, as such, capable of evolving and growing. LIKE A CHILD.
Art and play are languages, in many aspects, equivalent, and the child exercises them naturally and daily in his way of being, living, feeling, thinking and acting.
So how should children be taught to tango? The importance and transcendence of this topic make it impossible to develop in a few paragraphs the versatility of objectives and contents and the methodological rigor and ductility that are absolutely necessary here. We can, yes, show in this space a starting point, as a signal that calls to open our eyes about the dimension of this issue.
In principle, it is necessary to preserve in the child what he himself is -avoiding mere mechanical repetition, without foundation, essence or meaning- and pave the way so that his natural conditions come to light without modifying barriers, thus allowing him to be himself carrying out the human fact of being-with-another and the absolutely natural fact of dancing. Certain movements and steps will arrive in due time and consequently, as well as the opportune moment for the technical work -prepared naturally from the beginning- to be approached from another point of view.
We must, fundamentally, take care of the essence and spontaneity, and take rigorous precautions to protect kinetic and auditory purity and naturalness, carefully avoiding manufacturing stereotypes and paving the way for the child to acquire -each one in due time- the tools and instruments that his technical evolution may need, and at the same time cultivating his natural condition to create and express himself.
Tango has the innocence and vitality of the creative game. Just like a child. And this creative game is precisely the place where the improvisation of two arises. The starting point of the strictest technical rigor to which an adult can aspire is found precisely in the most natural and warm corner of a child’s soul. And the child – like the adult – can only DANCE as long as his nature and essence are professionally and intelligently respected.
Publisher date: 11/03/2009