Introduction to Argentine Tango
Tutor: Elena Parker
This course provides an introduction to the history of famous musicians and singers as well as the three styles of Tango dances. Students will learn breathing and stretching exercises to accompany the steps.
A good level of fitness nd balance is required for this course. Please wear loose fitting dress, skirt or trousers and comfortable shoes (not rubber soled). From here you are encouraged to join an Argentine Tango group to further improve your skills.
No partner necessary. New students welcomed each term.
History of Tango
Tango was invented by compadritos - urban guachos, which started to dance around the year 1870 in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The word 'tango' means closed meeting place in some African dialects. this dance has influence from African rhythmical dance Condombe, Cuban habanera - slow dance in 2/4 time, payadas or milongas - improvisations that the Argentinean guachos sung with the guitar. Also, Spanish theatre companies brought to Buenos Aires Andalusian tangos plus habaneras modified in light-hearted cheerful way in the second half of the 19th Century. And, Italian immigrants add their ability to sing and play musical instruments.
Tango/Milongas as social dancing has become a very popular dance nowadays and its popularity grows throughout the world. At the beginning, tango was only danced in brothels and it was a long time before it entered the houses of middle class families. Many youths of well off families learnt to dance tango at the brothels and some of them started to dance tango in Paris in 1913. By 1914 it was adopted by Parisians as the exotic and sensual dance, which provided an excuse for close contact with a single partner. As tango became fashionable in Paris - Italy, Germany and England did not want to be left behind. Hence, tango become popular in those countries, then tango academies spread through Europe and in 1914 Argentine teachers took it to the United States.
After the success in Paris, the tango returned to Argentina, becoming socially accepted and the orquesta tipica, (typical orchestra formed by violin, piano and a bandoneon) moved from the brothel to the cabaret in the centre of Buenos Aires.
Tango Musicians and Famous Singers
The Guardia Vieja (Old Guard) musicians - Francisco Canaro, Roberto Ifrpo, Augustin Bardi, Eduardo Arolas were no academic performers, most of them belonged to first Argentine generation of Italian immigrants and they usually played improvisations of their instruments. They were played between 1880 and 1920. In 1920 the tango, which had been spirited and lively at the beginning, became intensely melancholic. The musicians introduced their own nostalgia and loneliness into the tango.
When Julio de Caro created his Sextet (a piano, two violins, two bandoneons and contrabass) in 1924 the Guarda Nueva (New Guard) was inaugurated.
Astor Piazzola (1921-1992) - one of the most famous musicians in the tango world.