Tango Argentino > ABC's Definition of Tango

Discussion in 'Tango Argentino' started by Me, Aug 19, 2007.

  1. Chris Stratton

    Chris Stratton New Member

    But a postulated history of characterstics unique to the ballroom subset of styles, regardless if it is correct or incorrect would still not be a stain on the reputation of the styles that do not feature those characteristics.
  2. Me

    Me New Member

    Ah... and it is here that I will quote the wise words of Gssh

    (Btw, that deserves a big LOL!! :applause:)

    Not all AT dancers are like this, not by a long shot. In fact, I think most dancers here at this forum are very diverse. I don't think most closed-minded types would be caught dead at dance-forums.com because it is such a diverse community. It is my guess that you have based some of your ideas about AT on a rather annoying (and vocal) cross-section of the AT dance community. I firmly believe dancers of any discipline (not just tango) who 'poo-poo' other styles are simply unwilling to work to learn something different.

    Now see I take this to mean just general good dancing, which I agree with 100%. I took your earlier reference to a 'big presented topline' to mean something that would draw dirty looks on a crowded social dance floor.
  3. Larinda McRaven

    Larinda McRaven Site Moderator Staff Member

    No, he told you when they first entered a documented competition. Competitive style and choreography is rarely invented in a vaccum, rarely spontaneously happens. That style would have existed somewhere before a competitor grabbed it and capitalized on it.

    No one will ever know the true origins of things. Even if patterns, style, and technique are copyrighted (electric slide anyone?). They mingle and mix from one locale to another, from one clique to another, form one dance to another. When someone finally decides to codifiy and claim something as their own it is often long long after the emergence.
  4. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Will try to answer to my best recollection.

    Although I commenced my semi

    formal training in ballroom in the mid thirties, my clearer

    recollection of the immediate style, more mid forties . Tango, was considered a dance reserved for the more accomplished dancer .

    Some one on a previous post, was notating about the body position for the ballroom poise as it has been taught for the past 40 plus yrs .
    They went on to say how one of the Italian guys , had changed their concept, and was proposing a slightly more, forward pitch.

    The reason for this reference, looking back to the forties, particularly in Tango ( B/ room ) the somewhat exagarated forward stance or pitch, is very reminiscent of the current T / A style .

    This " pitch " was certainly in place before that period---.which begs the q-- did Tango influence the other 3 ? or did the other 3 influence Tango ?. My educated guess? the ballroom style of the period , adapted more towards the forward pitch of Tango .

    The theory behind this poise-- it was a more natural " feel " .

    Todays theorists, have other ideas. For fun-- try dancing ballroom , socially, with a forward pitch -- it will give you insight to the past .
  5. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    I personally am not worried about what style we are talking about. I am for example perfectly willing to acknowledge that e.g. the gancho is a relatively recent and stagey addition to tango, and that there are a few really old fashioned people who consider my willingness to dance this element a abomination.

    It is not a stain on the reputation of other styles if this postualted history is true - people are shedding and adding elements all the time. Nuevo has preciously little in common with apilado- nuevo seems to be even moving in the direction of becoming a stationary dance. It would then interesting for the people who don't dance a style that features these original features to figure out when/why/by whom these characteristics were shed.

    What I picked up upon was that the postulated history does not match my understanding of the history of tango at all.

    My first tango was a tango liso/tango salon that (I believe) was influenced heavily by re-imported european tango (well, thats not what the teacher said - he said "elegant, smooth, sophisiticated tango of the salons, not the dancehalls" :) ). I have dug through lots of early dance instruction manuals. I love early non-argentine tango music (eastern european and chinese, pre WWII) so the correctness/non-correctness of the things i think I know about early BR is important to me.

    Early european BR style is part of the history of "my" tango.

    I don't think changing things is bad - i think it is good. I just like to know what was changed.

    The discussion i am hoping for, goes something like this:

    -"look, this was posted on the ABC site"
    -"this is not what i thought the history looks like, it sounds more like an anecdote that was made up to describe certain features of BR style"
    -"Well, these features can be seen in this 1920 photo, and in this 1911 description, so they are actually original and defining for this style of tango, not later development"
    -"These photos/descriptions don't show it, i wonder if there were different proto tangos, or maybe they split before year X"
    -"well, we know that the styles of the different barrios were distinct enough to allow dancers to be identified instantaneously"

    (and we partially have this discussion- thanks!)

    It has very little to do with dissing other styles, but more a wondering if this history of BR style is correct, and if we can use this history, and the information we could get out of to understand the provenance of our own style (whatever style it is) better. I would be more than excited if somebody gave me a reference to the source of this information, or a photo, or something. For example it is notable that in the clip of valentinos tango bent legs are featured very prominently, something salon tango has completely lost, though it exists more subty in milonguero. Really, i am not interested in debating the merits of different styles of tango, and i don't think that having or not having characteristics means anything, or least of all is a measure of "quality". I do ganchos, i have been known to throw in a back saccada and a single axis turn once in a while, i think a tanda of bollywood soundtracks is fun from time to time, and i ask women to dance by sneaking up behind them, cornering them and saying "Would you like to dance?". In short i am an average 21st century non-argentine tango dancer, and would probably get kicked out of any golden age milonga in BA's within minutes.

  6. Gssh

    Gssh Well-Known Member

    This is kinda sad - this discussion made me realize that i really know nothing about current BR style, even though i can fake at least elements of most other tango stlyes. In general i have some "aha!" experience with a style, usually when i see a couple at a milonga or in a video dance that style, and there is this sudden feeling "oh, so that is how this orchestra needs to be danced to - this fits!". I have no exposure to BR style on that level - i have seen one or two couples doing BR style at milongas, but they never seemed to be the couple most in tune with the music. And competiton videos don't really do it for me (i have the same problem with AT, milonga competions - the situation is just too artificial/the people are too highly trained for me to see what the dance could be like as a dance for me - I get distracted by the fanct footwork). I have been to a dance party at a BR studios to see BR style there, but i didn't really understand the music and the dynamics of the dancefloor when they played a tango (it actually took me a while to identify the tango - it was a arrangement by what sounded like a big band with a huge brass section - very embarassing, considering how much tango i listen to).

  7. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Don't be. The musical arrangemnets of the AT we love and dance to, and BR Tango are totally different.

    Here's a rough comparison of styles: AT=Pugliese, Troilo, Piazzola, et al vs. BR=Lawrence Welk, Andre Riu, et al
  8. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    There are different levels of dancing competence.

    I think a master of any dance, will take elements from other dances and styles, and adopt that to the music at hand...to create expression and art.

    To me, the measure of mastery (and the beauty of dance) is in the ability to look beyond the limits of another style (or dance for that matter) and interpret that to the orchestration of a piece.

    I am a lowly practitioner of dance, but I've danced Piazzola using elements from rumba, bolero, BR, and both Int'l and Am style Tango, and of course, AT.

    I understand the reasons to categorize a piece as representative of one style or another.
    But beyond a certain point in one's dance evolution, (IMO) categorizing a piece of music as belonging to one style--and dancing to that style alone, to the exclusion of other styles--stymies growth and maturity.

  9. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    Ok, too much over-analysis... Ampster is leaving this one alone... for now

    :headwall: :eyebrow: :rolleyes:
  10. Steve Pastor

    Steve Pastor Moderator Staff Member

    Gssh, and all:
    For a long time I, too, thought I didn't know enough about something or other, and that's why I couldn't see what a lot of dancing had to do with the music that was being played.
    As I took more and more lessons, some of them from very good AT teachers, both from here in Portland, and visting experts, I became more and more convinced that the problem wasn't with me not understanding. What I was seeing was a lack of musicality with the dancers.
    SYTYCD just finished up, and I saw very little that didn't make sense musically. The one of two routines that were not musical elicited posts on this very site noting exactly that.
    This is why fancy footsteps, patterns, tricks, don't impress me much any more, unless they go with the music. This is of course reflected in how I dance. Some people get it. Some don't.
    The follower follows the leader, but the leader follows the music.
  11. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    How do we know ( or not ) that they WERE the ones, that first implemented the " style " ?--- obviously, the point is moot .

    But its the best starting point we have !!
  12. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    It seems to me that the definitions are a nice little story intended to add a little fun to it all, not neccessarily intended to be taken too seriously. I don't think they are especially great for any of the tangos really, i'm sure there are more important features to ballroom etc tango than looking serious an snapping your head around. I think it's quite funny! It doesn't appear (to me anyway) that ball room tangoers are pretending to be cow boys with stinky pits! I recently had a class with an argentinian guy who said that to dance to some golden era tangos you had to imagine you were a dock worker with a bad back. It's a nice story used to get you to adjust your style to the feeling of the music, but no one took away from it "you must always dance like a dock worker". Does it really matter? If they had said "Tango is now only danced by low class hookers in seedy night clubs and men are required to stick a rose between their teeth" it might be an issue. It is starting to get a bit Tango-L now.
  13. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    I believe, that some of the posters, have an academic approach to the genre. I think that, in and of its self, can be rewarding.

    Culturally, there are probable several avenues to be explored . Hopefully, they bring us more insight into the performance aspect, of that which we are attempting to dance.

    The main crux of the discussion-- authenticity.
    some things are proveable facts-- some not -- apocryphal , maybe, but with a tinge of truth attached .

    Dance , for me, has always had a fascination for its roots . Hopefully, it will enable me to retain some of the integrity , of my actions .
  14. Ampster

    Ampster Active Member

    IMHO, Not in AT. You dance AT to whatever music is applicable, applying the rules of AT, and intepreting improvisationally into art in movement. But, exclusively AT, with no hints of any other dance. It will look and feel wrong and impure.

    Of course, the above is my view from a pure AT specialist...
  15. tangotime

    tangotime Well-Known Member

    Will inject here, some cultural info, in respect of foundational existance.

    One archivist, states that the root beginnings, were possibly of English origin found in the " Contredanse ", originating in 17th cent. England, moved to France ,and then was transported to Cuba, and merged with Habenera , gradually moving down to Rio de la Plata.
    They go on to say, that the word " tango ", appears as early as the 1820s, and was a type of drum.

    Original instruments used -- Piano, Guitar and Flute.

    Milonga, in english, loosely translates as a Fiesta, so the word tango, probably was substituted for Milonga, as the practical side of the music, danced at those events .
  16. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    Okay, I'll bite...

    First of all, what is "pure AT" that you claim to be a specialist of?
    Purity and improvisation can be mutually exclusive.
    So, I ask because it sounds contradictory when you also claim that you use AT and improvise art in movement.

    I don't think anyone will dispute that AT has evolved over the years.
    It is not a form that has developed in isolation, nor will it be static.
    Whether we like it or not, it will be influenced by other forms--in one way or another.
    In fact, as I understand it (and posted earlier), AT evolved from ANOTHER form of dance (Baile con Corte).
    AT, 100 years from now, will be different from the AT you know and love today.
    It has to evolve, or it WILL fade and die.

    Lastly, I think you misunderstood what I was saying.
    Adding a different movement from a different dance, and refining it to look and feel like it is part of AT is the mark of the master who recognizes that art is a living and evolving thing.
    Now, if that movement were recognizable as HipHop or Mambo (etc... no disrespect to those dances) when dancing AT, that would simply be bad dancing--and the conspicuous mark of a dilettante.

  17. jfm

    jfm Active Member

    Warning highly controversial statemnet to follow....

    if you aredancing to a tango rhythm (actually dancing mind- interpreting themusicnot just moving with noise in the background) and it is with apartner then isn't it tango?
    I thought the dancewas defined by the music not theotherway round. That's why many people feel that 'tangoing'to alternative music isn't argentine tango...
    it'sas weird andinnaprpriate as watching someone doing the jive to drumn and bass.

    is there an emoticon to denote running awzay to shelter from the explosion once you'velit the fuse.....?
  18. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member


    ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss [sound of burning fuse...]


  19. madmaximus

    madmaximus Well-Known Member

    In parallel,
    If one is to dance a Bolero (instead of a Rumba) to a slow foxtrot (if one can presumably pull it off). . .

    Or, as often happens in socials, dancing chacha or west coast swing to a disco (hustle) piece.

    well, then I wonder . . . what is being danced?

    (and let's not even get started with Waltz, and its other variants...whether country, Tango, or folk)

  20. Peaches

    Peaches Well-Known Member

    And the last couple of posts illustrate perfectly why I'm content to define a dance primarily by the steps.

    And why I don't much care for labels when it comes to AT (being a heathen who finds it perfectly acceptable to dance AT to, say, Cake).

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