|Ladies, you will need technique classes to wear these.|
But why would you?
How important is technique? As Dieter, a tango teacher in Germany once said, "In Tango, Technik ist alles. Alles!" We would never say technique is everything for art or for making love, and so such a statement does not work in tango either. The technique-is-everything notion is doubly erroneous for tango. Isn't tango a combination of art and making love?
Maybe the question about technique's importance should not be how but rather why:
So why is technique important? Technique as expressed in ballet and stage tango is for the wrong reasons and is a dead end. Technique, I believe, is a way to enjoy our art throughout our lives. Sure, without technique, a dancer or any artist becomes limited in their own expression, but if given a choice, I am in favor of bad technique over a lack of artistic expression or passion for the divine spark within one's partner.
Before the technique nuts hunt me down, torture me with high-flying boleos and gancho me to death, hear my story:
As a musician I was a technique nut. My teacher was a technique nut. Ron Falter was a clinician for Ludwig Drum company, and he would go all over the country giving drum clinics on technique. So I was his disciple -- probably his most devoted disciple. We were like Gnostic musicians, he and I. The only portal into the Truth of Music was through technique.
The end of Gnostic-Musicianship
As a young teen, I was always hanging out on the university campus where I took music lessons. One day, I walked into the University band room, and a cohort musician, Brian, was there playing very well with the varsity University Jazz Band. I realized something at that moment. His teacher was a learn-by-doing teacher. Technique was secondary to playing a lot. This was the moment of my musical enlightenment, my epiphany. I was no longer a technique Gnostic. I slowly broke away from my teacher. I played with a lot of musicians. That is where I really learned to be a musician and not a technician.
I moved to San Francisco, and joined the Eddie Money Band. Everyone in Eddie's band took lessons. It was the assumption. At the time, I thought I had graduated from music lessons; so this was an important moment in the art school of life -- always have a coach. Eddie's outgoing drummer recommended Chuck Brown, who was the most renowned teacher in the Bay Area. But Chuck Brown seemed to be more of a technique freak than my first music guru. However, since Chuck was sought out by famous drummers, I was resigned to believe technique-Gnosticism was a fact of life.
However, unlike all the other students I knew, Chuck Brown did not have me focusing on technique so long. I am not sure why. His technique was remarkably different than Ron Falter's. I was not eclectic. I fully learned to devote myself to play with Chuck's powerful method. But soon we went on to other things in fusion and jazz music. Along the way, however I learned something about technique that I had never realized: It is not to play faster or be more awesome; technique is to help with endurance and avoid injury. I remembered that the drummer who had recommended Chuck Brown to me had told me said that he would have had to give up playing had he not learned Chuck's technique. This was the essential lesson on technique!
Technique was indeed essential, but why!? What I learned about music from him transformed the way I played. I believe that Chuck Brown's influence may have made me the close embrace tanguero that I am. Before Chuck Brown, I had double basses, flipped my sticks high into the air. I had seven tom-toms and 6 cymbals. I was a show drummer from a show-drummer gambling casino town. After my lessons with him, I most often was playing on a small drum set -- both in size and the number of drums. Through technique, I had a large sound but on small drums. My transformation was towards music and less towards show, and I no longer had back pain. I played powerfully, without pain and with endurance.
I still have the show-drummer in me. And I sometimes feel like a racehorse inside of the milonguero outward covering. But being "tasty" and going small takes discipline and a reverence for the music. From Chuck, I learned that no note (or step) should be taken without it being essential. Count Basie would say, "It is not what you play, man; it's what you don't play."
To a ballerina who has become a great tango dancer, she would define technique and "bad" technique differently than someone with no ballet background. She gets her accolades from the moves most unlike tango and most like ballet and gymnastics. But remember that as gymnast or a ballerina she must retire early because she will be broken by her technique for show. The toe shoes must come off. To me, tango is about life-long artistry and social connection, not about being awesome while you are young and able.
I learned that technique life long artistry until we die from Chuck Brown. But even if technique helps us to preserve ourselves, that is not everything either! Art and passion and making love always come first to the milonguero.
Sure, I have the highest value for technique. But I am fully aware that "Technik ist nicht alles. Nicht Alles!"
Photo credit for ballet tango stilletos -- yes ladies these shoes are for sale. Buy them here but wear them only at home or over at his place. NEVER walk in them, okay? ;-)