Hello, my name is Nathalie!
If you’ve come to this page, it’s probably because you wondered who would be showing you all these fancy tango moves! So if you agree, let me introduce myself…
The bug really bit me early…
I started dancing when I was 5. My parents decided to enrol me at a local dance school, perhaps because I was so rubbish at sport! My first steps as a dancer were incidentally my teacher’s first steps as an instructor and naturally, we grew together in our craft and as people for 15 years (within which time I grew considerably in height too!). I started with basic ballet technique and then went on to study modern and contemporary dance, more specifically Martha Graham’s technique. In case you haven’t heard of Martha Graham, she is an American dancer and choreographer who broke the mould of classical ballet and pioneered the field of modern dance. Her style was my first encounter with several techniques which I later further explored with tango:
the use of dissociation – of the upper body and lower body moving independently
the study of movement’s natural appearances – the consequences that occur when one part of the body moves, creating movement in another part of the body
the use of the floor as a dance partner. Like Argentine tango, contemporary dance uses the floor a lot. Unlike tango though, the floor is used at times as a partner during falls and jumps or crawling-like movements. Best not used in a milonga!
I started Argentine tango around 1999, at first for fun, then it became a little more important when I was prepping for my first dance. The thing that kept me going back for more though was my enjoyment of the classes and because I liked socialising with the friends I had made there.
After my first trip to Buenos Aires, I carried on tango out of sheer addiction: to the music, to the embrace, to the deep tango culture, to the beauty of the dance and the emphasis on the ‘here and now’.
I starting my tango training in Japan (as odd as that seems although tango is actually very popular over there) with Juan Rios, an Argentine Maestro; then in Europe and Buenos Aires, where I was blessed to be trained by truly generous teachers such as Maria Angeles Rodriguez, Lorena Ermocida and a couple of old school milongeros: Chiche and el Pibe Sarandi.
Innovation is not limited to high tech – it happens even in tango!
I grew as a dancer, having been lucky enough to learn from these amazing teachers. It was after a trip to Buenos Aires that I started thinking of using outside influences and bringing new ideas to tango instruction. This is how I came up with the SPEED technique as I tried to use every good practice from other disciplines. After all, tango is very skilled at the best of times so in a bid to make it easier, I tried to break down the complex technique into digestible chunks. I thought this might help other dancers:
Long step sequences are fine for a class but they are hard to use in a milonga – at least if you want to listen to the music and play it nice on the dance floor. This led me to breaking sequences into individual steps. I thought it would be easier for students to learn and remember them so that they could then create their own sequences.
A class is but once a week (more if you’re addicted of course), but it’s easy to forget between one class and the next. This is why I thought about illustrated hand outs for complete beginners – they make students’ life easier and they’re a good step by step reference.
Tango movements just do not feel natural at first and they take time to perfect, also tango is so deep that there’s always something new to learn. For this reason, it can be easy to loose track of what has been achieved. We thought a self assessment card would help keep track of student’s progress. It’s always nice to be patted on the back or to pat oneself on the back!
Continuous effort is always better than one off attempts, so we incorporated ‘continuous learning’ which really is homework but complete voluntary. If only that was the case with maths at school!
I am really excited to share with you my shiny new teaching methods. If you’re anything like me, you’ll really enjoy tango and I’ll do my utmost to make you shine on the dance floor.
Nathalie, CDO (that’s for Chief Dancing Officer, the closest I’ll ever get to a CxO title!).