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Tango: Origin, History, and Characteristics Research Paper

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Updated: Feb 1st, 2022

Tango has a long history. Its history has quite blurred as far as there are diverse types of Tango and it was danced in different corners of the Earth in its special manner. There are a lot of different theories about its origin. Despite the existence of so different presuppositions about its history, there is no doubt that this kind of dance was firstly performed a long time ago and it acquired different techniques from various dances. The history and traditions of different nations primarily the black ones influenced the dance of Tango. We are going to provide some theories about the origin of the Tango, its main traditions, and basic techniques in our research. This dance of love has become popular nowadays and it is considered to be one of the basic dances performed by professional dancers at sport competitions.

It is believed that Tango has its roots in slavery. The black slaves who inhabited Buenos Aires and Montevideo were known for their merry free time. They were allowed to spend some time together. They used this little piece of freedom for dancing and merry-making. Their dances were a mix of dances that are peculiar to black people in Argentina, Haiti, and Cuba. The Argentine tango combined Candombe, Milonga, and Canyengue that took roots in the African culture. Those dances were used as expressions of political, spiritual, or social aims (Magar, 2012). Further on, this dance acquired new forms with the new immigrations.

Tango is considered to be the most erotic and passionate dance in the world. It has become popular in Europe after World War l. It is believed that it was firstly danced in Buenos Aires and this country is considered to be the birthplace of Tango. This dance was called there ‘Baille Con Carte’ which means ‘dance with a rest’ (The History of Tango, 2012). The dance ‘Habanera del Café’ that was popular during the Spanish American War resembled Tango. The name ‘Tango’ was introduced by the ‘dandies’ who lived in Buenos Aires. More than that, ‘Polka rhythm’ was changed into ‘Habanero rhythm’ by them as well.

Tango was known as a solo dance performed by a woman in the 19th century. Andalusia Tango was performed with a partner and its passionate movements and flirting music was considered to be immoral. Tango was firstly introduced in France in 1907 and it was danced in England in 1912. Tango became the rage of the French and English people. The peak of popularity of Tango was in the USA when the Castles purified and perfected this dance raising it to the level of classical dance. The Broadway Show, Tango Argentina was known all over the world. Rudolph Valentino made Tango the most popular dance in 1921 (Heikkila, 2012).

The traditional clothing of Tango is “gauchos with high boots and spurs for men and full skirts for women” (Heikkila, 2012). It is believed that the first dancers were the gauchos who lived in Argentina. Their traditional clothes were chaps with flexed knees. They went to the clubs after their work and danced with the girls in these clothes. The gauchos were not shaved so that the women danced in the crook from them holding their head back. Women’s right hands were on men’s left hip to be the closest to their pockets. Women looked for the money as the payment for their dance in their pockets. They danced in a curving manner as far as there were a lot of tables in the club and there was very crowded (Heikkila, 2012). All these conditions presupposed the manner of dancing the Tango. The movements of Tango are associated with a wild tiger chasing its prey. It is known for its stops. There is no such flowing as in Waltz or Foxtrot.

There are three main types of Tango namely the international one, the American, and the Argentine styles. The Argentine style is considered to be the original one and it is closely connected with the Spanish dance ‘Danza’ (Tango in Argentina, 2012). The American Tango differs from the Argentine one by its close following the music with the predetermined quicks and slows. There is a freedom of movements in this style and there are different types of positions combining the closed one and other various styles of relationships between two dancers. The international Tango is known for its disciplined structure and strictly structured positions. There is only one structured position throughout the dance namely the closed one. This style is accepted to be the format of world dance competitions (The History of Tango, 2012).

The Tango dancer should be connected to the music and the dance. The important part of Tango is music phrased from 16 to 32 beats. There are some certain techniques for the dancers of Tango. One of the most important is embracing. The dance starts with embracing or the first connection in Tango. Embrace in Tango should be passionate and effective the same as it is in a real life. The embracing should be as tough as if the dancer is going to dance the whole life with this partner. The man should embrace the woman firmly but with the freedom for her movements. Truth to the partner is very important during the dance. The professionals say that “you can tell whether the person can dance the tango from the feel of the first embrace” (Hotta, 2012).

Musicality is another factor necessary for dancing the Tango that makes the dancer closer to the partner. It is necessary to feel music not just listen to it during the dance. There are no counts in tango; it is based on feelings and passion. Except for the own feelings, the dancer should feel her/his partner’s feelings too. Two partners should be as a whole. Their feelings should coincide with the music they hear. Naomi Hotta, one of the popular Tango dancers provides the following piece of advice: “Once you’re on the dance floor, stop thinking about the sequence you learned in class or the cool move you saw on YouTube, and just let the music sweep you away” (Hotta, 2012).

The connection between the partners is another important factor in Tango. This connection may be achieved with different means such as the feeling of the music, embracing, technique, and others. Partners should forget about their everyday problems and devote themselves to Tango completely.

Posture plays a very important role in any dance and Tango particularly. Although Tango takes its roots from the streets of Buenos Aires and is considered to be the dance of passion without any disciplined structure, posture has become an important part of this dance in our times. The spine should be straight; the head should be at a particular level while the whole body should be relaxed and confident. The posture demonstrates the dancer’s skill to control his/her body. Tango walk is also valuable in this dance. The beginners should start with walking. The common mistake is that the beginners are taught to 8-count basic walk. The main difficulty is to feel the partner and walk with her/him.

As with any other dance, Tango needs a lot of practice. Nevertheless, it is based on the quality of dance, not on its quantity. It is necessary to listen to music, understand the basic techniques including the Tango walk and posture, feel the partner and let the emotions break away. It is impossible to be taught to dance automatically the dance should be felt with the whole soul. Although Tango has become a worldwide dance its roots are in Buenos Aires that is why it is necessary to know its history and culture where it was born to understand this dance. As Naomi Hotta points out, “Tango is not just a dance you learn. It is a way to love life” (Hotta, 2012).

The history of the dance helps to master Tango easier. Although there are a lot of theories about the origin of Tango we may be sure that this dance of passion was born on the streets of Buenos Aires. The history and rules of the dance should be known and respected to dance it well. Nevertheless, Tango is not the knowledge of techniques it is the expression of the inner world.

Works Cited

Heikkila, Lori, 2012, . Web.

Hotta, Naomi, 2009, Top 10 Tips for Tango Dancers. Web.

Magar, Prashant, 2012. History of Tango Dance. Web.

Tango in Argentina, 2012. Web.

The History of Tango 2012. Web.

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