Saturday, February 13, 2016

Do not go back to basics

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." Leonardo da Vinci 
Dancers often lament having to start all over with a new teacher.  What a sad thing it is to learn that we need to "return to the basics."  Private lessons may have been started for the express purpose of going from being intermediate finally to be advanced.   The prospect of working on basics may have more than a few people shaking their heads and telling themselves,  "I thought I was getting pretty good.  Now, I am starting all over!"

There is a solution to this problem: 
Never leave the basics.  Really.  In tai chi the classes I have taken, the teaching philosophy has focused on being in the "beginners mind"--never leaving the basics.  The veteran students come to the "beginner" class all the time in my tai chi classes. Not leaving the basics is not a play on words; it is a philosophy of learning, being in the now, staying in "the beginner's mind."  The same sort of thing happens when studying music.  I was in a waiting list of 150 people to study with master teacher, Chuck Brown, in the San Francisco Bay Area after having taken private music lessons for many years.  I drove 200 miles to go to these lessons opened by cancellations of regular students, and because of being willing to come from so far away, Chuck Brown allowed me to be a regular student. What did I learn?   Basics.  But I never felt I was going backwards.  Fast forward to 2016.  I am doing this again with another master teacher, Michelle Lamb, in tango.  I am not even going forward with her.  I am just being where I am in the basics.

"Going back to basics" is a poor way of presenting what truly needs to happen.  Instead, teachers would be better off telling students to focus on "innovation" because innovation is "renewal."  Innovation is also re-creating fundamentals. What makes tango basics fun is that it is a true form of re-creation. "Innovation" makes what is already foundational to be fresh and wonderful.

So don't go back. 
Be in the forever now with innovation, and simplicity, and e-creation.  If it feels like going backwards to you, it perhaps indicates a desire to do things that look advanced.  That is the first step of going down the wrong path away from basics.  You can find many teachers to help you down this "forward" path of complexity without a basis.  However, the path of profound simplicity, the path of feeling hoovers in the forever now--not forward or backward in its path.  Tango is the greatest of arts in which basics feel* so good first before truly looking wonderfully graceful.  It's epicenter is the embrace.

*Regarding "feeling":  This applies to social tango, the internal world of dance.  Performance dance really needs a different perspective of what pleases others more what pleases you or your partner.  What gets the applause and praise needs to be your focus.  Go for it if that is what you desire.

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