Argentine Tango – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Dance Styles Glossary

I. What is Argentine Tango?

Argentine Tango is a popular dance form that originated in the working-class neighborhoods of Buenos Aires, Argentina in the late 19th century. It is a passionate and sensual dance that is known for its intricate footwork, dramatic movements, and close embrace between partners. Argentine Tango is often described as a conversation between two people, with each partner interpreting the music and responding to each other’s movements in real-time. Unlike ballroom tango, which is more structured and choreographed, Argentine Tango is improvisational and allows for a greater degree of creativity and expression.

II. History of Argentine Tango

The history of Argentine Tango is a rich and complex one that reflects the cultural melting pot of Buenos Aires in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The dance has its roots in the African, European, and indigenous influences that came together in the port city of Buenos Aires, where immigrants from all over the world settled and mingled.

Originally danced in the brothels and bars of Buenos Aires, Argentine Tango was considered scandalous and immoral by the upper classes. However, it quickly gained popularity among the working-class population and eventually spread to the dance halls and cafes of the city. In the early 20th century, Argentine Tango experienced a golden age, with famous tango orchestras and dancers emerging and the dance becoming a symbol of Argentine identity.

III. Characteristics of Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango is characterized by its close embrace, where partners maintain chest-to-chest contact throughout the dance. This intimate connection allows for subtle communication between partners and creates a sense of unity and harmony on the dance floor. The dance is also known for its intricate footwork, with dancers executing complex steps and patterns with precision and grace.

In Argentine Tango, there is a strong emphasis on improvisation and interpretation of the music. Dancers must be able to listen to the music and respond to its rhythms and melodies with their movements. This requires a high level of skill and sensitivity, as well as a deep understanding of the music and its emotional nuances.

IV. Basic Steps and Techniques in Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango is a complex dance that requires a great deal of skill and practice to master. However, there are some basic steps and techniques that all tango dancers should be familiar with. These include the basic walk, the ochos (figure eights), the cruzada (cross), and the giro (turn). These steps can be combined in various ways to create a wide range of movements and sequences.

One of the key techniques in Argentine Tango is the concept of leading and following. The leader, typically the man, is responsible for initiating and guiding the movements of the dance, while the follower, typically the woman, must be able to interpret and respond to the leader’s cues. This requires a high level of trust and communication between partners, as well as a strong connection and awareness of each other’s movements.

V. Music and Instruments Used in Argentine Tango

Music plays a central role in Argentine Tango, providing the rhythm and inspiration for the dancers. Tango music is typically played by a small ensemble known as a tango orchestra, which includes instruments such as the bandoneon (a type of accordion), the violin, the piano, and the double bass. The bandoneon, in particular, is considered the soul of tango music, with its haunting and melancholic sound evoking the passion and drama of the dance.

The music of Argentine Tango is characterized by its complex rhythms and melodies, which reflect the diverse influences that shaped the dance. Tango music can be fast and energetic, or slow and melancholic, with each piece telling a story and evoking a range of emotions. Dancers must be able to interpret and respond to the music with their movements, creating a dynamic and expressive dance experience.

VI. Cultural Significance of Argentine Tango

Argentine Tango holds a special place in the hearts of Argentinians, who see it as a symbol of their national identity and cultural heritage. The dance is an important part of Argentine culture, with tango festivals, competitions, and milongas (tango social dances) held regularly throughout the country. Tango music and dance are also recognized by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, highlighting their importance and significance on a global scale.

In addition to its cultural significance, Argentine Tango has also had a lasting impact on the world of dance and music. The dance has inspired countless artists and musicians, and its influence can be seen in a wide range of musical genres and dance styles. Argentine Tango continues to captivate audiences around the world with its passion, elegance, and beauty, making it a timeless and enduring art form.