Born in the brothels of Rio de la Plata towards the end of the 18th century, this Argentinean dance embodies the sensuality, eroticism and passion of dancing in couples.
The geometric intimacy of movement: the Tango /
For as long as culture can remember, dancing has been one of its ultimate expressions. Just like visual arts, literature, music and gastronomy reflect the most distinctive characteristics of a country, religion or era, so does dancing. Even before the birth of the earliest civilizations, this was already an important part of human ritualism; an element that channeled the energy of the Universe in an effort to appeal to the forces that control everything. Nowadays, dancing still has some of these elements, even if in its modern manifestations it no longer demands the attention of the cosmos: instead it focuses on narrating the human condition.
As a dance practiced by the slaves, the Tango emerged in Río de la Plata towards the end of the 18th century. Once slavery was abolished in 1813, European immigrants adopted the dance and adopted its rhythms, transforming them into milongas, canguelas and academies. The result of this cultural crucible was sensuality, delicious rhythms and a dance where the synchronicity of two bodies expressed the deepest longings. This dance has inspired all sorts of characters around the world; however, it had to be Borges who described it as “That burst, tango, that mischief, it defies the busy years,” thus capturing the nature of this essentially urban music.
This genre’s golden age coincides with Peronism in Argentina. The period from 1943-1955 saw some of the most admired orchestras in Tango history, partly because they enjoyed mass diffusion through the radio and film. This was also the era of the great balls, when people would come together in the cafés, cabarets and candy shops on Avenida Corrientes to dance. The Argentinean Tango Academy defined this period as “the exaltation”: the most fruitful moment for this style, when music and dance brought the country together.
Tango music combines African and Italian rhythms with the Rioplatense world: the melodic embodiment of the waves of immigration that the nation experienced during that period. The result of that fusion perfectly reflects the circumstances of its birth; it is, after all, a hybrid of different rhythms, musical genres and desires. Astor Piazzola, Carlos Gardel and Mercedes Simone are among its best known interpreters. In recent years, tango music has been adapted to the modern stage through fusions like Gotan Project and BajoFondo, which combine the breezes of tango with electronic music.
Due to the sensual nature of the dance, the tango is characterized by its strict interpretation of gender roles: in a couple, the man sets the pace while the female follow. They each add something to the act: he, the direction, and she, the beauty.
Regardless of the fact that some have pointed out that the style is breaking away from its roots, an organic process that seems to affect practically any transcendental cultural phenomenon, this dance still has its spirit intact: an elegant interlocution between two bodies that, following a strict code of movements, in the end dissolve into each other.
At the end of the day, the Tango is still, like it was when it first emerged, a corporal poetic that expresses the circumstances of its interpreters. A type of geometric intimacy that through its dance inscribes a sensual cartography on the dance floor: the unforgettable reminder of an exchange. What has remained is proximity in the dance: the couple remains closely intertwined with their bodies and faces touching each other, thus they respond to one another in perfect synchrony. European precision and Latin sensitivity are inscribed in the Tango —and the result is simply hypnotic.Tagged: tango, dancing, Argentina, inspiration