What is Tango Dance
What is Tango Dance?
The tango is a playful yet vibrant dance between two people. Originating in Argentina in the early 20th century, it’s one of the most fascinating and passionate dances performed by a woman and a man. The sensual dance moves are an expression of the romance and attraction between the couple as they play out their power games, and the dance is made all the more potent by the way in which they interact with each other, the music and the audience.+ Expand
When it was first introduced into the dance halls of working-class Buenos Aires by Spanish settlers, tango dance was performed only by women, but once it spread further afield it became a dance for couples. During the early 1900s, the dance spread from Argentina to Europe until it reached the United States in 1910 where it became a popular dance form in New York. And now it’s making a revival, having been featured on the big screen in films such as Shall We Dance, Scent of a Woman and True Lies, with many dance clubs and dance schools providing lessons and opportunities to learn and practice this most sensual of dances.
Tango Styles and Techniques
The tango has influenced how dance is performed today and the music that accompanies it has become one of the most important genres of music worldwide. When asked ‘what is tango dance’, we can’t really answer that question without mentioning the music that accompanies the dance which originated amongst the European immigrant populations of Buenos Aires. Tango music is repetitive in style, with a count of either 16 or 32 beats and is traditionally played on a solo guitar, guitar duo or by an ensemble.
Taking the music as the cue, one dancer will ‘lead’ while the other dancer ‘follows’; the leader inviting the follower by showing them where and how to step. The dance offers many opportunities for personal expression, improvisation and intimate connection, with the aim being to maintain harmony between each other and the music. But more than this, tango dancers need to make a connection with the audience if the dance is to be believable and successful.
While there are many styles of tango, the most popular are Modern Tango and Argentine Tango. Most styles are danced in either open embrace, where there is space between the bodies or close embrace where the couple is connected at the hip or chest area.
Learning How to Tango
If you want to learn how to tango, we recommend that you sign up for a class at a local dance studio. Tango classes are guaranteed to be fun, and you’ll make many new friends as you learn. While the dance may look impressive, it’s relatively easy to pick the steps up quickly, especially when you have individual instruction. The personal expression of the dance will come later as you become more familiar with the execution of the steps. Of course, to make dancing the tango more carefree, you’ll want to invest in a pair of professional tango dance shoes. These are constructed to make precise footwork and sliding movements easier while giving you the stability and support that you need.
But be careful, once you experience the joy and freedom of expression that comes with tango dancing, you may very well become addicted. It’s not unusual for tango dancers to dance for hours, late into the night in dance halls all around the world.