8 Reasons Why Swapping is Good

Post date: Jan 5, 2015 2:04:16 AM

north sydney tango lessons

A common question I am asked by new students is - do we have to rotate?  From my sixteen years of experience teaching tango I am convinced that students learn best by changing partners but also acknowledge that some people may not want to do this.  For this reason, SoTango classes rotation of partners is encouraged but not compulsory.

Generally in a class some people change and others stay with the same partner. Some attend as a single, others as a part of a couple. 

There are all sorts of personal dynamics going on in a tango class!  Some people may be treating the lesson as a 'date night' and have no interest in rotating; their priority being more on bonding than optimal learning practices! A couple going through marriage difficulties may have been advised by their marriage counsellor to “play together”.  Some people are afraid of close contact with someone unfamiliar or not wanting to rotate for other personal reasons. Someone may be with a partner who is particularly gifted (learns quickly or very attractive!) and be reluctant to relinquish them to another. Some people may want to rotate but fear this may upset their partner. 

So what are the benefits of changing partners in class?

1) To prevent bad dance habits

If you stay with the same partner you can start to compensate and thus perpetuate each other's bad habits.  With your most familiar partner, you have habits which may be shortcuts and deviations from good technique. 

2) To encourage precision and good technique

Closely related to point 1...

Tango dancing is a lead and follow skill based on good technique and precision. Precision is so important in tango, perhaps more so than in any other partner dance. When dancing with less familiar partners, you need to dance more precisely.  

3) To develop a versatile connection

Every partner “feels” different in terms of height, body size and proportions, centre of gravity, reflexes, energy levels - to name just a few main differences.  If you intend to dance at milongas (and not just with one partner) it's very important to develop the ability to adjust and adapt to different partners. 

4) To reduce frustration with your partner!

Sad but true fact - many people find it easier to be kind and tolerant to someone unfamiliar! Even the most affectionate couples may find themselves arguing in class about the best way to do a move!  Learning tango can be frustrating, and one of the best ways to reduce frustration between partners is to dance with other people. In some rare cases I will politely recommend to a fighting couple that they rotate to another partner. 

5) The need for a sanity check 

closely related to #4...

When learning a new skill together there is a 'couple dynamic' especially when one is naturally better than the other...."most people learn, or acquire information, at different speeds or rates. And when you have a partner that's acquiring and assimilating information at different rates, typically someone's ego tends to get bruised, especially if you're the one that's holding up the show, and you know it."1 (Miles Tangos - Tango Truism #859)

6) Enhanced connection with your partner

Also closely related to #2...

It can be fun to come back to your original partner in the rotation and be better each time you go around.  What's more some 'time out' from your partner can help you both to view new moves and concepts with a fresh perspective.

7) To make friends with whom to socialise, dance and study

Changing partners enables you to get to know new people. These people could be potential study buddies and could be part of your 'support network' when you go dancing socially. When going to a milonga you will know many partners because you have already danced with them in class. 

8) Adds more energy and vitality to the class 

From many years of experimenting with this I have observed that rotating definitely makes for a more 'bubbly' class, with a more upbeat energy. There are many reasons for this effect. Classes are not always evenly matched with leaders and followers so rotation ensures everyone gets to dance with someone of the opposite gender. Many students come alone and would like to meet more than one person. Some couples are relieved to be given 'permission' by the teacher to rotate, and as already mentioned rotation can help short circuit frustration between couples.

1 Miles Tangos - Tango Truism #859

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