Tango: A General Overview

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Tango

Tango is a ballroom dance that originated among the working class of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the early 20th century. Tango has its influence from African, South American, and European cultures. The tango dance requires a display of close intimacy and passion between the dancers and is typically performed by a man and a woman.

Music of Tango:

Music

Music used in Tango is characterized by a repetitive style typically consisting of 2/4 or 4/4 beats (in other words,16 or 32 beats). The instruments used in Traditional Tango are guitars. In contrast, the instruments used in Modern Tango are an ensemble made of violins, piano, flute, double bass, and a traditional instrument called bandoneon.

In the past, Tango music was associated with the lower class owing to its origins among the working class of Argentina. But as Tango spread across the world, fueled by the passion of new composers, tango music also found its way into the mainstream. As the tango dance form developed into different variations across the globe, tango music also found its place in high-class ballrooms and theatres. ‘El Merenguengué’ is one of the earliest tango songs that became widely popular. Some of the other popular tango songs include ‘Señora casera’, ‘Andate a la recoleta’ and “El queco’.

Some of the earliest composers and musicians that contributed to the evolution of present-day Tango Music are Carlos Gardel, Juan d’Arienzo, Astor Piazzolla, and Carlos di Sarli among many others.

Clothing of Tango: Clothing

Traditional Tango dresses for women were very long, modest, and orange in color. Today, red is the most favored color for a tango dress, and the length of the skirts is comparatively shorter compared to the older versions.

In the 1900s, Victorian fashion styles were moving away from popularity. Conveniently Tango was getting popular during the same time, and it allowed women an excuse to ditch the tight corsets and hooped skirts. Women were choosing to clothe in ways that no longer restricted their bodies from moving. The first proper tango dress, known as the ‘Tango Visite,’ was introduced in 1913. These dresses were light and comfortable, with their skirts extending up to mid-calf, allowing easier dancing.

Men’s tango clothes are much closer to regular clothing items than female clothing. Men’s clothing in Tango is traditionally white or black in color. Men dancers prefer straight-cut elegant shirt and pants combinations made from flowy materials such as Silk. They can also use hats and vests.

Figures of Tango:

Figures

Tango is a reactive dance form based on improvisation, but there are some basic figures such as Baldosa, Salida basica, Ocho, Giro, Parada, Sacada, and Barrida.

Baldosa or commonly known as a square, is a figure that draws a rectangle in six steps. Salida basica is a sequence of eight steps. Ocho is a step in which the man helps the woman draw an eight by rotation, while Giro is the figure in which the man turns the woman around his axis. Parada is the figure made when the man interrupts the woman’s pace, while Sacada is made when one partner invades the other’s space with a movement towards the leg on which the weight of his/her body is not resting. And Barrida is the figure made when one of the two dancers moves the foot away. This is typically the foot on which no weight is resting.

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