Tango plays a crucial role not only for the culture of Argentina but for the world culture. A graceful beauty of rhythm and embodying energy of music make tango more original and specific. Tango is not only dance that expresses passion, energy, and rhythm but reflects the Argentine spirit, culture, and traditions. At first, this dance was the entertainment and enjoyment of working class who had not other ways of time spending. However, soon tango had received the status of nobler dance associated with love, passion, and tenderness. Tango is not only a distinctive dancing style but also music style that impresses by romanticism and charm. For the working class, tango was not a form of art but the possibility of self-expression and giving their life more meaning. Consequently, this essay intends to analyze the history, culture, style and peculiarities of tango as the reflection of the Argentine traditions.
History, Culture And Form Of Tango
Tango belongs to the Argentine culture. Consequently, it expresses the brave and passionate character of these people, their sophisticated ability to entertain in the particular way, their spirit to adventures and innovations. They associate the origin of this dance with the working-class port in Buenos Aires. However, later tango was popular in Rio de la Plata, Uruguay, and Montevideo. Tango combines the features of the European music, ancient African rhythms. At first, tango was performed in the 1980s. Initially, tango was a local dance. However, its popularity had begun to increase with the upper and middle classes.
One can distinguish many tango styles that prove about the diversity, improvements and achieving perfection in the basic movements, rhythm and tempo. Not without reason, tango is considered to be a South American folk dance. Tango salon, club tango, tango milonguero, tango orillero, tango canyengue, tango nuevo, fantasia and ballroom tango are the styles of dance that have their conception, origin and purpose. Moreover, a large number of styles and techniques of performance argue that Argentine people can find the entertainment even after the hard work. One should say that tango is the result of desire of Argentine people to save depict their temperament with the help of dancing and pass it to the whole world.
One can divide tango into two styles according to the interaction between partners: open embrace and close embrace. Both styles can be performed in the different surroundings and have different purpose. The structure of the form of tango is A-B-A like in music. It means that it is rhythmic enough, exiting, charming and not boring. Such contrast and variation of the structure of the form prove that this dance has the development and culmination.
The Roots Of The Form Of Tango
“It is a slow, stately dance, done to fourfour time-not ragtime. Its many figures are for the most part difficult, both of description and accomplishment, but it is nevertheless becoming exceedingly popular for ball-room dancing”, writes Walker. It means that the form of tango is not complicated. However, even in the present times, people feel difficultly to explain the origin of this dance due to the merge of Argentine passion, African joy and European sophistication. Moreover, the name of this dance has the Niger-Congo origin.
The Argentine community was multination at that time. Consequently, the roots of the form of tango are from the Argentine candombe and milonga and the Cuban habanera. One supposes a minuet-style European dance an ancestor of tango. The influence of the African dances was also inevitable due to their presence in the Argentine society. The African people used dances and music to mark sad or happy moments in their life. As the Argentines adopted that tradition, it proved about their desire to develop culturally. Even in the present time, one tries to trace the history of tango. However, the exact roots of its origin are still unknown.
The Argentine Society As The Place Of Development Of Tango
The Argentine society benefitted the development of tango. Not without reason, tango has another name ‘Argentine tango’. It means that Argentina contributed to the world of dance bringing not only movements but a special atmosphere, meaningfulness, and their traditions. At first, tango was danced at the low cafes of Buenos Aires as a way of entertainment for the low working class. People had no other entertainments as to go to brothels or cafes to enjoy drinking and watching for the tango dancers.
Initially, it was a ballet-like dance between two men who moved as if they combated. It had sporty movements. However, soon the Argentine society changed it making the partners male and female adding a new purpose to that dance. It was the Argentine elite community that made this dance stylish and elegant evoking a picture of a high society and showing their vision of tango. One should say that the Argentine society was full of emigrants who had the difficult times. Consequently, one can name tango a purely Argentine dance. The poor working class tried to create the movements for tango themselves during combats and dancing. As to the middle and upper classes, they took the lessons and organized dancing evenings to look efficient and graceful dancers.
Poor working class watched tango in the cafes and brothels on evenings after the hard work. It means that tango was the way of relaxation of them. As to the middle and high classes, they gathered in the famous places elegantly dressed to watch tango and communicate with each other.
The Purpose Of Tango
Initially, tango was the way of entertainment and enjoyment of poor working class. They came into the cafes to drink and admire its performance. Moreover, working class liked brothels where tango was performed for the spectaculars for money. One should say that tango was the way of becoming ‘rags to riches’. Poor immigrants danced to earn money in Argentine cafes and brothels and glitter evening Galas in the high society.
However, soon the audience for this dance had changed into the more sophisticated. Stylishly dressed men and women dance it for pleasure or became the professional dancers. Men were dressed in tails and tuxedos. Women wore glittering evening gowns. The initial purpose of tango was a way of combating between the men. As to the women, they danced to find the clients as they worked as prostitutes. In the present time, tango is a form of art that is reflected through the complicated movements and sophisticated music. Tango is still elegant and sexy dance that can be performed with passion only in Buenos Aires despite its popularity in Berlin, London, New York, Paris and Tokyo.
The modern society can divide tango development into before and after Piazzolla who presented a new approach to tango. Finland supposes tango a virtual ‘national dance’. It means that modern times have added a world-wide renaissance. Tango is a symbol of political freedom, social rise and solidarity. Nowadays, tango is much less threatening, more nostalgic and more romantic.
The Elements Of Tango
The music used for tango dancing is tango music that is also dynamic and rhythmic. It is an instrumental music that does not violate the harmony and unity. One can distinguish tango with lyrics. It is more innovative way of dance performing.
One can analyze tango as a dance according to the following aspects: body, space, time, suspension and dramatic aspect. Tango dancers are in a tense state to make their movements more plastic and sophisticated. Movements of the whole body of both partners make the dance more passionate and dynamic. The contact with a partner is a must to make the movements more emotional, sensitive and harmonic. Tango includes also movements supporting the weight of the body on the shoulders. Such position reinforces the feelings of mutual interaction between partners and their dramatic character. Movements of all body parts during performing of tango add this dance freedom, passion and lightness. All body movements in tango are like kinds of interaction and communication between partners. Moreover, people use tango form to express their feelings to each other.
Tango is characterized by a kinespheric space as dancers should move with the whole body to show their plastics and gracefulness.
Moreover, they move their center of the body to create this kinespheric space. There is also scenic space there that is used for obtaining turns. Tango is slow dance but rhythmic. Tempo of this dance constructs choreographic phrases with a music sense. The length of tango can be measured with the help of beats. Suspension is another aspect of this dance that makes it more complicated and prevents from predicting dancers' movements.
In conclusion, one should say that tango has an ancient history that proves the long and complicated pathway of the development of this dance. Tango is a witness to the events in Argentina and difficult living of emigrants from Africa and other European countries. History, culture and form of tango reinforce its belongings to the unity of African, European and Argentine styles. Consequently, the roots of the form of tango refer to Africa and Europe. One can say that emigrants have become the driving forces of this dance in Argentina. In the present times, tango is a symbol of solidarity, freedom and desire of emigrant to integrate the Argentine society. Tango is borrowed from many nations. Such multicultural characteristics make it particular and ambiguous. The African slave rhythms charms and brings back to life.
One should say that tango was the result of the unity of the everyday routine, political problems and cultural values of Argentines. Tango demonstrates that the unity of cultures can create a masterpiece of art.