Speaking Tango: Professional Development for Social Dancers
"An incredibly powerful and important culmination of Sharna’s work and gifts as a tango dancer and teacher of teachers." -Aja Fenn
Designed as a two-part series of intensive weekend events (Friday-Sunday), Speaking Tango is a guided process of synthesizing your own tango knowledge and experience into a system you can talk about and share in clear language. The material is not offered not as a recipe, but rather as a set of tools and resources to help you develop your own approach to teaching.
Both experienced dancers and those who are already teaching are encouraged to participate. We all benefit from hearing a range of perspectives in the room. Each weekend includes twelve hours of instruction and a booklet of take home reference material, and is limited to 12 participants.
PART I: DIAGNOSTICS
In the first weekend, we'll focus on the dialogue and exchange between teacher and student. You can use these skills in private lessons, when helping out beginners at a práctica, or when assisting during a group class. You’ll leave with a set of pedagogical and creative tools valuable both for self-directing your own study of tango and also for teaching tango to others.
- Embrace and cultivate your own strengths as a teacher
- Observe, sense, and describe movement precisely
- Give and receive empowering feedback
- Guide learning with both directive and subjective language
- Troubleshoot common beginner stumbling blocks
- Learn useful anatomical landmarks for tango
PART II: STRUCTURES
Our goal in the second weekend is to prepare you to lead group classes and workshops in a way that reflects your personal goals and values. The focus is on the teacher as an architect of the learning environment and of learning pathways. You’ll walk away with concrete plans to get started teaching with confidence, or, if you're teaching already, straightforward methods to immediately make your classes more balanced, integrated and effective.
- Create your own skill-building exercises
- Make lesson plans based on logical progressions
- Manage physical logistics of a tango classroom
- Teach solo vs with a partner
- Develop outlines for a basic intro tango workshop and a 6-week beginner series
- Learn mindfulness-based self-care strategies for tango teachers
I have always admired Sharna's humble spirit and her ability to be simple and precise in her feedback. Not only did Speaking Tango give me concrete tools and examples of how to communicate with my partners and students, but it also allowed me to understand how Sharna's teaching philosophy empowers and inspires." -Katya Kosarenko, Los Angeles
"Speaking Tango was the perfect combination of practical exercises, stimulating group discussions, and deep personal reflection. Sharna is a thoughtful, organized, and perceptive facilitator, and working with her has greatly enriched my skill and enjoyment of teaching tango. I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to explore, develop, or refine their learning or teaching process." -Karin Norgard, Portland
"Speaking Tango addresses two areas of tango that are mostly overlooked, communication and self-direction. In my many years of learning, practicing, and dancing, I have rarely been taught how to use words to effectively communicate movement and sensation, and how to share this information in both a functional and empathetic way with others. This program does precisely this, and I so wish I had it earlier in my tango experience. As a teacher, Speaking Tango has been irreplaceable in fine-tuning my verbal skills. Relationships with my students are happier and more productive.." -Michael Silverman, Portland
"This program improves on the building blocks of how we conceptualize and communicate about tango. It's all very open and collaborative - Sharna draws out everyone's unique strengths and experience. We not only had our own revelations in class, but built on each others' revelations to create insights that wouldn't have been possible in isolation. Highly recommend for anyone interested in or already engaged in focused tango practice or teaching." -Nathan Kottke, Washington, DC
Speaking Tango Custom Coaching
Are you interested in teaching tango but aren’t sure where to begin?
Do you want practical, effective tools to troubleshoot your own dancing?
Do you love tango but struggle with the social dance environment?
I’ve created the custom coaching option to address these needs remotely, via Skype or phone. These one-on-one sessions provide concrete guidance on a range of challenges including dance practice methodology, conflicts in the social tango environment, and how to get started or grow as a tango teacher.
If you’d like support on making tango a more enriching and rewarding part of your life, let’s talk! I offer complementary phone consultation to decide how I can best serve you. If coaching doesn’t seem like the right thing for you, I’ll do my best to connect you with other resources that might be helpful.
No dates are scheduled at this time. Please fill out the form on the right to be notified of future trainings, or to inquire about bringing Speaking Tango to your community!
Sharna has been involved with tango since 1997, when she received her first lesson in the corner of a dance hall from a fellow beginner. In addition to studying with such tango legends as the Pugliese family, Nito & Elba Garcia, Juan Bruno, "Tete" Rusconi, "Chicho" Frumboli, Omar Vega, and Pablo Veron, Sharna has also trained in an abundance of other movement modalities such as contact improvisation, yoga, Pilates, and Laban/Bartenieff Fundamentals.
Sharna performed as a member of the all-woman dance company TangoMujer between 2003-2006, and founded the nonprofit organization Tango Mercurio in Washington, D.C. in 2008. She completed an MFA in Dance at UCLA in 2014, where she studied performance theory, critical pedagogy, and choreographic methods. She is also a certified yoga instructor and empowerment coach.
As a teacher, Sharna has the rare ability to both articulate and demonstrate, with precision, the subtle details of tango movement and improvisation. Her approach is holistic and exploratory, informed by both the anatomy and the poetry of the body.
Photos on this page by Marty Katz