Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tango Voice :: Understanding Argentine Tango :: Tango in North America vs. in Buenos Aires

Excerpt: (the complete post is a fairly long sure to click the link above to read it in its entirety...)

"In looking out across the dance floor at many events advertised as ‘milongas’ in North America, it is apparent that the character of the dancing while tango music is playing is very different from the tango dancing in a typical milonga in Buenos Aires [Tango de Salon: The Tango of the Milonga (Part II of ‘Tango Styles, Genres and Individual Expression’)]. What one often sees among dancers in the North American event is a collection of step patterns, with names most dancers using them could recite, such as ‘sandwich’, ‘lustrada’, ‘boleo’, ‘gancho’, ‘sacada’, ‘arrastre’, ‘volcada’. (A categorization of tango into named steps is given in ‘Figures of Argentine Tango’.) Among the men who have acquired a collection of movements, there is often a display consisting of a nearly continuous and sometimes predictable sequence of step patterns, often without regard to the progression of the line of dance; complexity in the physics of movement appears to be favored over the highly improvised linking of small movements (often those lacking a codified name) that utilize only the space needed to progress in the circulating ronda. Many women appear to be focused on performing embellishments, finding as many opportunities as possible to use them, often without regard to whether or not the man has provided time and space for their execution, and without regard to the space between them and other dancers on the floor (Women’s Adornments for Tango Social Dancing). Tango dancing at North American milongas often appears to be a performing art (with questionable artistic properties), directed by the brain, not a social and emotional interchange between partners, directed by the music. Often absent in dancing to tango music in North American milongas is an embrace between man and woman, i.e., chest-to-chest contact maintained through the dance or, if there is any embrace at all, it is broken apart for the performance of conspicuous step patterns. Also absent is a close connection of movement with the music, even when the dance-facilitating classic tango music from the Golden Age is played for dancing. For the dancers who more or less are connected to the music (i.e., moving in conjunction with the primary beat), they are not exploring the intricacies of music by taking into account syncopations, as well as pauses associated with musical phrasing. It often appears as though the music is only a background for executing patterns, not a framework for structuring the dance. In the most extreme cases, the music played for dancing at these events advertised as ‘milongas’ (sometimes ‘alternative milongas’) is not tango music designed for dancing tango (i.e., classic tango music)."

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