The tango is a beautiful, shimmering, feminine partner dance, and popular cultural dance which originated centuries ago in the Argentina and Uruguay, the natural boundary between Argentina and Uruguay. It is steeped in history, having been brought to Spain by the Arabs in the thirteenth century. It is usually born in the poor port regions of these two countries, in historically developed neighborhoods that had mainly African occupants. A well-developed tango consists of three main components: the arm movement (the hand and wrist movements above the waist and between the legs); the peristalsis (the circular movement of the arm from side to side), and the sampede (a very fluid and intricate back and forth movement). While the movements are similar, the steps of a true tango are unique.
Tango, just like jazz, is a dance form that has transcended its borders and crossed borders. Today it is enjoyed not only by South Americans but by people of all cultures and ethnic backgrounds all over the world. Tango, being such a fluid dance form, was initially intended to be played between two people; but with the evolution of the dance, it has evolved into an amazing dance routine involving hundreds or even thousands of people. No wonder then that there are so many styles and sub-styles of tango music, ranging from the elegant rumba of Buenos Aires to the boisterous baroque dances of Portofino, Chile.
Tango is a unique dance because unlike most ballroom dances, it places a strong emphasis on the legs and thighs. As a result, the women’s skirts tend to be long, flowing ones, while the men’s attire is fitted more toward the street-dancing variety. This long history of the tango dance form also makes it unique among Latin dances: aside from the fact that tango dancers all dress alike, there is also no reference to any kind of historical rhythm. The Argentina, the Argentine tango and the banderil are three different versions of the original. The Argentine tango, the version which features a classical fiesta dance routine performed by women wearing long gowns, long flowing skirts and high heels, and the banderil, which has a very fast and energetic dance style, have been greatly influenced by the Spanish and the French.
Both the Argentina and the banderil feature a repertoire of different dancing styles. The Argentina, which is the most popular version of the tango, generally features a fast paced cumbia dance routine where the women swing their arms and the men move their bodies in a serpentine fashion. The banderil features the same basic dance moves but tends to be less fast paced. Other interesting forms include the tondo, which are the floor exercise performed by many of the tango’s participants, the rumba, which are an energetic flamenco type of dance, and the meringue which are a dance form with multiple partners.
The most famous version of the tango, the Argentine tango, was first performed by the greatest choreographers of the day, the Real Madrid Ballet and the Royal Ballet of Madrid. These great artists developed this ballroom dance for use at the famous Cariadora de Madrid competitions, as well as at other important occasions such as the Spanish National Exhibition. These performances were choreographed by professionals who had previously choreographed for the Royal Ballet as part of their annual routine. Some of the dancers from these early performances have gone on to fame and fortune in the world of professional dancing. This includes dancer Luciano & Celia Ayala, who choreographed the brilliant Parisian tournement, and dancer Ana Juanino.
Today, many modern dance styles have evolved out of the basic Argentine tango. One of the most famous, and perhaps the most stylistically exciting of all are the break dance. This is characterized by short, quick movements that often incorporate jerky movement and turns into different shapes, creating interesting dancing lines and changing over time. Other styles include salsa, meringue, mambo and even waltz.
The traditional Argentine knot is also known as the santana. This is a fast, elegant movement, especially when embellished with intricate footwork and acrobatics. There are a number of different versions of the santana, with one variation being completely different from the other, each version representing a different style and region of Spain. Regardless of the variations in the actual knot, the basic dance is characterized by fluidity and grace.
Many of the dances that have evolved from the basic argentines are quite popular today. These include the Viennese waltz, the berber, the tiera and the flamenco. Of course the most well-known and definitely the most stylized of all the Argentine dances is the tango. Originating from the courts of the 15th century, the tango is enjoyed today by men and women of all ages in Spain, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, France, Italy, Venezuela, Brazil and other countries as well. There are many online videos and even free lessons available to teach you the basics of this dance.