Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tango (dance)

Tango is a dance that has influences from European and African culture. Dances from thecandombe ceremonies of former slave peoples helped shape the modern day Tango. The dance originated in lower-class districts of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The music derived from the fusion of various forms of music from Europe. The word "tango" seems to have first been used in connection with the dance in the 1890s. Initially it was just one of the many dances, but it soon became popular throughout society, as theatres and street barrel organs spread it from the suburbs to the working-class slums, which were packed with hundreds of thousands of Europeanimmigrants, primarily ItaliansSpanish and French.
In the early years of the 20th century, dancers and orchestras from Buenos Aires travelled toEurope, and the first European tango craze took place in Paris, soon followed by LondonBerlin, and other capitals. Towards the end of 1913 it hit New York in the USA, and Finland. In the USA around 1911 the word "tango" was often applied to dances in a 2/4 or 4/4 rhythm such as the one-step. The term was fashionable and did not indicate that tango steps would be used in the dance, although they might be. Tango music was sometimes played, but at a rather fast tempo. Instructors of the period would sometimes refer to this as a "North American tango", versus the "Rio de la Plata tango". By 1914 more authentic tango stylings were soon developed[which?], along with some variations like Albert Newman's "Minuet" tango.
In Argentina, the onset in 1929 of the Great Depression, and restrictions introduced after the overthrow of the Hipólito Yrigoyen government in 1930 caused tango to decline. Its fortunes were reversed as tango again became widely fashionable and a matter of national pride under the government of Juan Perón. Tango declined again in the 1950s with economic depression and as the military dictatorships banned public gatherings, followed by the popularity of rock and roll.
In 2009 the tango was declared as part of the world's "intangible cultural heritage" by UNESCO.


Tango postcard, c. 1919
Tango Show in Buenos Aires
The Tango consists of a variety of styles that developed in different regions and eras ofArgentina as well as in other locations around the world. The dance developed in response to many cultural elements, such as the crowding of the venue and even the fashions in clothing. The styles are mostly danced in either open embrace, where lead and follow have space between their bodies, or close embrace, where the lead and follow connect either chest-to-chest (Argentine tango) or in the upper thigh, hip area (American and International tango).
Different styles of Tango are:
These are danced to several types of music:
  • Tango
  • Vals (the tango version of waltz)
  • Milonga (a related dance that usually has a faster tempo)
  • Tango Electronico
  • "Alternative tango", i.e. non-tango music appropriated for use in the dance of music
The "milonguero" style is characterized by a very close embrace, small steps, and syncopated rhythmic footwork. It is based on the petitero or caquero style of the crowded downtown clubs of the '50s.
In contrast, the tango that originated in the family clubs of the suburban neighborhoods (Villa Urquiza/Devoto/Avellaneda etc.) emphasizes long elegant steps, and complex figures. In this case the embrace may be allowed to open briefly, to permit execution of the complicated footwork.
The complex figures of this style became the basis for a theatrical performance style of Tango seen in the touring stage shows. For stage purposes, the embrace is often very open, and the complex footwork is augmented with gymnastic lifts, kicks, and drop .

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