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Tango: The dance danced all over (Creolization)

Filed under: Uncategorized — natashag22 at 7:10 pm on Tuesday, November 23, 2010  Tagged

           Dance is often used to describe a particular culture. It almost always originates from a specific region, and spreads to other places. The rate, time, and reasons for a dance to spread to other places vary. For the purpose of this assignment I will focus on the dance, Tango.
           Tango originated in the country of Argentina, but more specifically in Buenos Aires. Buenos Aires was used as a port during the slave trade. The dance originated with African slaves and free blacks, and spread to barrios in the early years of the 20th century. To dance tango was a sign of masculinity or machismo. The music and dance could be found in brothels and was always improvisational. It was associated with people living in the slums of the city. The dance was looked down upon and thought of to be sinful by those of the upper-class. To the elite it was nothing but vulgar indecency.

           The Bandoneon is instrumental to tango music. It is interesting to find out that it actually comes from Germany. This is one of the first examples of how the music and dance have been influenced by other cultures.

           Young wealthy men would travel to these brothels and barrios where they would pick up the tango and bring it back to their communities and take it overseas during their travels. Tango eventually spread to the dance floors of the social elite in Paris and London in the early 1900s. Europe greatly influenced the clothing of tango. At this point the dance and music of tango drifted into a more sophisticated direction, and quickly turned into the new craze. Technology advancements also aided in the spread of tango.

           Due to Europe’s acceptance of a previously provocative low class activity Argentina shifted their position of Tango and proudly embraced the dance that began in their country. It is interesting to see how a receiving country can alter the views of the country that produced the product.

           Ballroom tango evolved from Argentine tango. Though both may look very similar there are distinctions between the two. Argentine tango is improvisational while ballroom is choreographed and premeditated. The difference in dance exemplifies the difference in cultural values. In the United States ballroom tango may be seen at competitions where there are judges and rankings. In Argentina there are milongas which are places where people come together to dance tango freely. The walk and technique also differ between both. In Argentine tango the couple dances with their chests very close or touching while their hips do not touch one another at all. Their faces are close together or even cheek to cheek. In ballroom tango the couple dance with their chests away from one another while staying connected at the hip. Their faces are often times positioned away from the other looking in opposite directions.

           Argentine tango brings life feelings into motions. Different people use different words to describe different forms of Argentine tango. It has been described as evocative, promiscuous, intense, interactive, and full of love, sexual desire, mutual energy, and grief. As tango has traveled from its origins in Argentina to Europe to the United States it has taken on new forms and evolved within each country. Tango has served to be a perfect example of creolization, an interplay between world culture and national culture. The continual modifications that tango has endured are proof that is anything but a global homogenous culture.

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1 Comment



December 12, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

I found it quite interesting that the tango has had such a long and detailed history, since I previously believed it only had European Spanish roots. As to the different types of styles of tango,I never really noticed the distinct differences between argentine tango and its ballroom counterpart. The tango is a prime example of creolization because now tango is usually seen in a new venue, featured on dancing reality shows, such as “Dancing with the Stars” and “So you think you can Dance.”

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