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  • Writer's pictureDavid Phillips

Don’t exaggerate! Except, …

Updated: Apr 26, 2023

Don’t exaggerate! Except, …

Argentine tango teachers — How subtle can we make it so that students can still see (or feel) the difference?

Exaggerated demonstrations have two problems:

  1. Students see exaggeration in a demonstration, then assume they should do it that same exaggerated way. Example: foot stomp to "clearly" show a weight change. Even if they know it's exaggerated, they're practicing it the same exaggerated way with us, rather than practicing it the way they would actually use it.

  2. If students feel us demonstrate what they did in an exaggerated way, they may reject it; "Hey, I wasn't like that!" This blocks understanding and connection with us.

Tango dancers — Part of the magic of skillful Follow and Lead is its subtlety. Uninitiated onlookers ask, "How did they do that?! Is it choreographed?" Be aware that some teachers and partners giving feedback exaggerate things to make them stand out. We are not meant to copy that exaggeration.

For feedback, even when we feel it is exaggerated or wrong, we can still look for the useful intent behind it.

Everybody — Here is an exception. Everything is a range of possibilities. It often can be useful when we explore to find our optimum range—our sweet spot, to go a bit beyond what seems like too little or too much. That experience can help us recognize when we drift outside of our sweet spot.

No exaggeration, we look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, abrazos!

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