Shall We Dance?


Andrew Payti

Tango dancers in formal attire

Do you like to dance? What is your favorite kind of dance? What kind of music do you prefer to dance to? In Argentina, many people would answer, “¡El tango, claro!” In Argentine cities you will often see tango dancers performing on the streets.

Buenos Aires is the birthplace of the tango. It began in the nineteenth century as a dance of the lower classes and evolved into a dance that today expresses the passionate heart and soul of Argentina. To understand its vital role in the social and cultural life of Argentina, you need only to attend the annual CITA (Congreso International de Tango Argentino) festival in March, or the annual Tango Buenos Aires Dance Festival and World Cup in August. Both events take place in Buenos Aires

Anywhere from 300 to 500 couples—both professional and amateur—from all over the world converge on Buenos Aires in August to participate in the Dance Festival and World Cup and to have the time of their lives! This spectacular event is organized by the Ministry of Culture of the Buenos Aires city government and offers a wide variety of activities for all people—concerts, classes, workshops, conferences, exhibits, films—all related to the tango. Then the last week of August the competition begins!

The competition includes two categories of Argentine tango, and participants can enter one or both categories. The salon tango is more traditional. Partners must not separate during the dance. They should always be in an embrace, with steps including sweeps, twists, fancy footwork, and the smooth, flowing walk that is always associated with the tango. The stage tango is more exuberant, and dancers are freer in their movements to incorporate personal interpretations of the tango. For example, they are allowed to break the traditional embrace and add techniques from other disciplines.

Judges choose a winner from each category. Are you ready to enter?

Explore More:
1. If you are interested in dance or music, you may want to research more about the many different styles of the tango—both the dance and the music. Compare and contrast the different styles.

2. Would you enjoy learning the tango or some tango moves? Look on the Internet for lessons and videos of how to dance the tango.

3. Further investigate the history of the tango. Look up the name Juan Carlos Copes to learn his role in the revival of the tango.

Share What You Know:

1. Share your opinion about which style of tango you like better and why. What about the tango do you like? What do you not like? Do you prefer another type of dance to the tango? If so, what type and why?

2. Stage a tango festival in class. Play tango music and have fun dancing. You could even dress up and have a Spanish Class Tango Championship!

3. Have you seen any movies or television shows that portray the tango? How many can you name?

4. Interpret this Spanish phrase: El tango no está en los pies. Está en el corazón.