Estilos de Tango

The Tango Styles

Tango is one of the classical arts or a "design", which shall be limited by the framework of truth, goodness, and beauty. Within this framework, the dancer is free; out of the framework, it is not the Tango. Many people try to melt the other dances into tango, saying it is art, and art is to be free; but in fact, just like the Chinese fried noodle mixed with Italian meat pasta will not become better or more taste. 

The way of the beauty of action design, the Leading and following methods, or techniques, could be some differences between different schools or areas. These can be said to be "different style between schools", or "School Styles". That is why one student should not just go to learn from different well-known dancers or jump into different workshops or festivals, try as more as possible, and lose yourself in these so many different school styles. It would help your tango more if you focus on one good teacher or tango couple within a fixed system for a period of time. It may take years till nothings you can learn from them.

When talking about “styles”, it is not used to categorize what “type” of tango any one person or couple is dancing. The different “styles” merely describe the stages of the development of the techniques or qualities in Tango through its evolution. What most people dance now can either be pure of one style (or technique), or a mixture of several.

There are only four styles of the tango - "Tango Canyengue", "Tango Orillero", "Tango Salon" and "Tango Fantasia", which are recognized and agreed upon by all of the great tangueros and masters. In old days the tangueros might dance different styles basing on tango's roots when tango was purer and develop slowly with the situation of Buenos Aires. Even in the same style group, they still look various when seeing their dancing. From time to time, people dance a mix of these 4 styles. You can see the final one in the video Juan Copes dance "Fantasia" style, but at the same time, he uses steps or elements from Canyengue, Orillero, and Salon.

Nowadays when many people have some confuses between "TANGO styles" and "SCHOOL styles", even "AREA styles"; even try to create more names for style.... but actually they all could be linked to the original 4 tango styles. So-called "Milongueros (style)" is from the center of Buenos Aires city, where space is less so people dance more closely and do fewer steps and figures; it could be treated as a mix like "small-salon". A "Nuevo (style)" is from the late 90' some people try to break the traditional rules and more with "contact improvisation" of Morden dance; it’s more like a “Tango mixed with Morden dance”, and every Nuevo dancers dance very very differently. "Villa Urquiza" is not a style but one neighborhood of B.A. city., though the people there create more steps and figures in the old days coz there is bigger space for dance.

Many years ago when I was still very young in tango, I ever asked one so-called "Nuevo style" tango teacher, what's the difference about Nuevo between traditional or classic tango. He laughed and said, there is no Nuevo style to dancers from BA, it is just "the marketing stuff from the organizers or people outside of Argentine. Tango is tango." Later, I saw an interview of an old milonguero, he said, "I don't know what is "milongueros style", I dance my style and I am a milonguero, so they call it "Milonguero Style", but all the milongueros dance differently."

When we understand more and go deeper in tango, we would like to focus on developing our own tango, instead of trying to define which styles people are dancing, unless you were a real tango historicist from decades later.

Nowadays people dance the tango, which is the mix of "the tango styles" plus "school style". As tango lovers, we need to know the root of tango styles and try to dance with people with different school styles. Anyway, you should find and dance "your own style" eventually; that will be YOUR TANGO!

Felipe Hsieh

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