Tango is a ballroom dance that originated among the working class of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the early 20th century. The tango dance requires a display of close intimacy and passion between the dancers and is typically performed by a man and a woman. Tango has its influence from African, South American, and European cultures. Tango spread like wildfire across the globe during the early 1900s. It quickly evolved into a dozen distinct styles as it was being popularized and practiced in different cultures of the world.
The main distinctions between different kinds of Tango are:
Leg Positioning: Legs of the dancers can be intertwined and hooked together or kept away from one another. Placement of the foot on the floor can also offer insight into different tango types, as some require landing the foot flatly on the ground, while for others, the toes.
Intimacy: The two tango dancers are almost always in some kind of embrace when dancing the Tango. It could be either an open embrace or a close embrace where the chest or the legs are touching. In American Tango, this can change several times during a single dance routine, while ballroom dancing only allows for an open embrace.
Movement: The different styles of Tango can also be differentiated according to how dancers support their center of gravity. In traditional Tango, the dancers first move their chests, and then their feet follow. However, in ballroom tango, the feet move first, followed by the body.
Major Styles of Tango:
Tango is one of the most reactive dance forms in the world; as such, it can be reshaped easily by any number of factors. There are plenty of variations of Tango around the world, but Tango can be classified into five major distinct styles:
Argentinian Tango: The Argentinian Tango, also known as the traditional Tango, is a style of Tango in which the dancers have their chests closer to each other than their hips. This version allows for intimacy and playfulness. This is one of the most original types of Tango that contains all the fundamental elements of traditional Argentine Tango from the 19th century.
Uruguayan Tango: This is the oldest kind of Tango, developed almost simultaneously as the traditional Argentinian Tango from the 19th century. In this version of Tango, the dancers’ body moves first, followed by the feet. Uruguayan Tango is divided into subcategories of styles depending on the music used.
Ballroom tango: This version originated in Europe, is arguably the most famous version of Tango, and has been majorly used for international competitions. In ballroom tango, there’s less intimacy than in the traditional ones, the steps are more standardized and stricter, and the dancers’ upper bodies are arched away from each other. It’s also characterized by distinct head snaps, which are not found in any other style of Tango.
North American Tango: The North American version of Tango is characterized by a slightly faster music tempo. This version of Tango is also danced to popular songs, not only tango songs. The music of North American Tango is developed by musicians such as Carlos Gardel and Astor Piazzolla. It is used majorly as a social dance and is not preferred in global competition.
Finnish Tango: During the first World War, Finland saw a rise in the popularity of Tango. Finnish Tango is characterized by a close embrace, a low stance, and dips and spins. It also features the absence of any kind of leaps or kicks.