Evolution or Preservation?


I'm curious to know if both of these camps exist among dancers of Argentine Tango.

Are there people in the scene who are trying to bring change and evolution to the dance? Or is the desire to preserve the tango as it is (was) much greater?
They certainly both exist, even in Argentina.
My personal idea about evolution is that it must be natural. There is no rush. Some people push things, and it always comes out looking fake. We don't want to hold things back, but we don't want to be in a hurry just for the Hell of it. Progress is not a fight. It is a natural process. When we try to dance Tango to Britney Spears, that is a little too much, and it is really a little revolting to tell the truth.
Remember the Essence of Tango? If you betray it, you are letting down over a century's worth of people who worked like crazy to create. It is theirs, we just borrow it for a few minutes. It is very easy and quick to destroy. If they let me loose in the Prado, I could destroy Las Meninas in just a few seconds. I think you can see why people would be a little angry over something like that?
If I fingerpainted over a Reubens, what would the world lose? Would it gain anything? Would it have been worth it if I just call it progress?
Your choice of words is interesting. How can one "try to bring evolution"? Evolution comes from accidents, mutations. You cannot make it.
When a person enlists in an army, his goal is to become part of it, not to acquire it. Why is it not that way with Tango? You cannot own it, so it is best to give yourself up to it, and let it become a part of you. Then, you will become a part of it, too.
According to Richard Powers it has already happened. He says that the American Tango is a very good snapshot of what Tango looked like structurally in the 20's (I believe, any mistakes are mine not his), while Argentine Tango is vastly different in form but nearly identical in spirit (attitude, culture, innovation, improvisation etc.).

So you have one group has preserved the physcial steps and another that has preserved the spirit. One is based on preserving that snapshot, the other about ensuring it is a living dance, that innovation and improvisation within the cultural context of the dance.


I believe American Tango is a derivation of what was brought to Europe around the turn of the century and then popularized in the 20's, so the evolution occured (moreso) in Europe and then was brought to the US.
"The blue-collar work ethic embraced the mastery of sequence dances, which soon evolved into competition ballroom dancing, as ways to elevate one's social position through perseverance and hard work, and these roots are still visible today."
-Richard Powers

What do you think of that one?
They also tell me that there has been evolution in the American Tango. That is, if you look at a performance from fifty years ago, it does not look at all like the American Tango looks today. What good is the syllabus, then?
By the way, what Richard Powers calls the working class ethic sounds more bourgeois to me. The working class dances to have fun. The middle class is the one worried about bettering its social situation.
Hard to say... I don't know the context. It is possible that by sequence dance he means dances that had proscribed steps done in sequnce... in which case yes, the blue-collar folk loved them. Look at all the country/folk dances. I can see this love of dancing being kept as members of the working class moved up to middle class and them taking it to the bourgeois extreme, "elevating" it.

Again without context it is hard to say what he was talking about and to judge the accuracy of the statement.
Yes, it is out of context. I think he was talking specifically about nineteenth cent. England. It is on a Stanford website.


Well-Known Member
Argentine Tango seems to me a bit like an iceberg. You learn something and you think thats it and then someone else comes along and says there is another embrace, another style, another posture and this is before you get into the old and the new music. There's always more to learn. Sometime I just like keeping it really simple and listen hard to the music. Other times I've done steps no-one has taught me and I wonder where the hell that came from.

I heard Cervilla talking about his choreography in NY and he was saying he had to add things which were exciting and looked difficult becuase if the audience saw stuff they could do themselves they would lose interest.

I guess that everyone has their own way of moving, the tango pieces that inspire them and the partners who 'click'

Dance Ads