In all aspects of life, whether that be relationships, finance, spirituality, fitness or skills such as dancing Tango, you are either improving/ moving forward, or declining/ getting worse. There is no standing still.
With regard to dance, practicing basic technique pays huge dividends in your overall development. Just 6 minutes a day is enough to continue your improvement. The consistency is the key.
Another suggestion is to practice for at least 6 minutes before you go out dancing socially. From this pre-milonga Tango practice, you can choose one to two things that you can focus on at the milonga. This pre-milonga practice also helps to ‘set’ your axis and increase your body awareness.
The purpose of your practice is to allow you to dance with great technique unconsciously. It is very difficult and inefficient to consciously ‘think’ your way through movement. Practice is the time to think and analyse your movement and then when it comes time to dance, Just Dance!
Competitive instincts are far stronger than technique, i.e. in a social environment, you will do whatever you have to do to manage your way through the dance. This is not always good in your overall development as a Tango dancer. It is therefore, important to be ‘ready’ to dance in a non-controlled environment, otherwise, it can negatively impact your development. It is therefore important to maintain a suitable balance of practice and social dancing. Learning to dance at Milongas is very much a hatchet way of developing your dance. As Keiran Perkins once said, “The result is the easy part. Swimmers don’t train 40 hours a week just to get fit; you can do that in 1/3 of the time. The hours are put in week after week to ensure that at the exact moment when you are under pressure, you’re tired and physically and emotionally drained, your worst habit is perfection.” Now, I realize that you dancing Tango and Kieran Perkins competing at an elite sporting level are different in many ways, however, the concept of preparation is the same. Practise basic movements such as walking, ochos, and molinete continually so that it is difficult not to do it well in any situation.
For optimal rate of improvement, a separate set of eyes can have great affect. If you want to do it alone, it may take 15 years to reach the level of proficiency you aspire to whereas with the help of a coach/ teacher, you may cut that down to 5 years. Tango lessons can therefore be invaluable in your overall development.
In summary, the legendary cellist Pablo Casals was asked why he continued to practice at age 90. “Because, I think I‘m making progress,” he replied.