Come learn the sensual classic Tango of Argentina, with its compact hold and intricate footwork.
The dance of Tango borrowed from many nations–the rhythms of the African slaves, native Indian rhythms combined with the music of early Spanish colonists and the Caribbean nations. Today, styles vary in Tango: the three that we teach at Chicago Dance are the Argentine, International and American.
In the early 19th Century, the Tango was a solo dance performed by the woman.
Although it has come to epitomize the glamour and elegance of high society, with women in sleek glittering evening gowns and men in tux and tails, the partner style of Tango originated in society’s underbelly–the brothels of turn-of-the-century Argentina. Originally, the Tango dance developed as an acting out of the relationship between the prostitute and her pimp. The early Tangos were highly improvised, and were generally regarded as obscene.
One story of Tango is that it started with the gauchos of Argentina. They wore chaps that had hardened from the foam and sweat of the horse’s body. Hence gauchos walked with knees flexed. They would go to crowded nightclubs and ask the local girls to dance. Since the gaucho hadn’t showered, the lady would dance in the crook of the man’s right arm, holding her head back. Her right hand was held low on his left hip, close to his pocket, looking for a payment for dancing with him. The man danced in a curving fashion because the floor was small with round tables, so he danced around and between them.
As it became absorbed into larger society, the Tango lost some of it abrasiveness. The structure of the dance, however, remained intact, and soon the Tango developed into a worldwide phenomenon. The dance spread throughout Europe in the 1900’s, taking Paris by storm. Rudolph Valentino then made the Tango a hit in 1921 with several movies.
The Argentine Tango is an intricate mixing of legs and feet, with the partners in a more intimate embrace. This dance can be danced in very small spaces.
International Style Tango
This is the style usually seen on televised dance competitions. It is danced with the partners always in the dance position and is characterized by quick head snaps and large movements around the dance floor.
American Style Tango
A combination of the other two styles and additionally allowing for more creative use of the arms and hands then the Argentine or International styles.
The principals involved in all three styles are the same as for any good dancing. First, the dance must fit the music. Second, it must contain the basic characteristic that sets it apart from other dances. Third, it must be comfortable and pleasing to do.
For exhibition dancing, a Tango dancer must develop a strong connection with the music, the dance and the audience. The audience can only feel this connection if the performer feels and projects this feeling. So it is when dancing for your own pleasure — and your partner’s!
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