(And what it’s not, in our opinion)
There are people who you could bet your granny on that they dance tango, like they were bred for it, and then those who will come as a big surprise. This is the great thing about tango: you meet so many different personalities. For this reason, it is almost impossible to define what tango is, but being brave and all, we’ll give it a go, starting with the dance styles that are different from the traditional Argentine tango.
Tango on the screens (small and large)
You’re probably aware of a few tango scenes from mainstream movies: True Lies, Scent of a Woman, Take the Lead, a recent car advertising (ring any bells? Nope? No bells? Don’t fret, the links below are here to refresh you memory).
True Lies: a bit over the top? But then again, would you expect Terminator to dance tango?
Scent of a woman: not strictly tango but a moving performance by Al Pacino
Take the lead
And, well, that car advertising…(my friend told me it’s actually closer to Kung Fu)
Tango on stage
A bit less mainstream, youtube and the hyperwebnet is filled with great examples of what is called ‘stage tango’. You probably will have seen a little of this in movies or music videos. It pretty much does what it says on the tin. It’s danced by professional dancers on stage to an audience and it is not for the faint hearted. ‘Stage tango’ is a gravity defying, risqué, exhibitionist kind of tango. Do not try this at home, unless of course you’re a natural gymnast.
2008 stage tango champions
2009 stage tango champions
The main difference between the different types of tango lies in whether the dance is choreographed or improvised. Screen and stage tango is choreographed – there is no leading and no following – and is meant to be viewed by an audience. On the other side, the ‘original’ tango salon from Buenos Aires is improvised and is danced in a social setting – parties called ‘milongas’.
For Argentines, tango is a way of life. It is an expression of their culture and it represents their heritage. By keeping tango alive, Argentine people are paying homage to their ancestors, as well as enjoying themselves in the process. Tango is a monument, the symbol of a nation’s creativity, expressivity, individuality and identity. It also is a source of deep pride and who can blame them – what a great thing to be known for.
And to me, Tango is poetic, disciplined, addictive, unpredictable, passionate, authentic… Forget about the stereotype that pretends that men lead and women follow. Tango is a two-way dialogue. It is about a physical, emotional and spiritual encounter between two people who can communicate wholly without words. Read more about what is Tango to me.