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PostSubject: History Of The American Tango   Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:44 am

Sophisticated and dramatic, occasionally laced with a bit of humor, the American Tango is a more elegant, less passionate version of Tango that originated in Argentina. Sophisticated in nature, partners generally maintain an upright position and a respectable distance while dancing in a formal style. Your grandmother is far less likely to be shocked by anything in the American Tango when you dance at the family wedding.

The metered, punctuated rhythm that underscores the music is still all Argentine, but in many ways, the American Tango is a dance of contrast. Passion is expressed with minimal touching " or none at all " as partners separate and perform individually or in unison. Latin sensuality combines with New York sophistication. Steps are more formal and formulaic in the American version, yet allow for a wide variety of expression. The Tango speaks of unbridled love, yet often also represents the war between the sexes in a stylish duel between the male and female partners. They are attracted to each other, separate, and reunite throughout the dance, just as in real life.

The Argentine Tango was born over 100 years ago as a cosmopolitan form of self expression and freedom, with a definite passion for life. Argentina was the home to many European immigrants, so the dance was influenced by many cultures. Some say the American Tango was a product of Hollywood as a dance of love, but had to be toned down for the prudish public at the time. In truth, the Argentine Tango was considered too racy by many in Argentina and the dance was condemned by many authorities and warnings abounded that it would lead to arthritis in addition to debauchery. Whatever the real story, the dance became a European craze in the 1900s and star of the silver screen Rudolph Valentino solidified his Latin Lover status by making the more reserved version of the Tango a hit in America in 1921.

Apparently, there was just something about a woman dancing with a rose in her teeth that really appealed to the Times Square crowd. Be sure to snip off the thorns first. Ouch! Heavily influenced by other American ballroom styles of the period such as the waltz (which itself was considered scandalous when first introduced) American tangos feature a punctuated elegance composed of a formal stance, staccato movements, and characteristic "head snaps" that are totally foreign to the Argentine version. Dips and twirls abound as the dancers follow the slow, slow, quick-quick, slow pattern of steps. Leg locks between the partners are very brief, if ever employed. While the Latin version focuses on passion, the American version focuses on fun " without risk of offending anyone.

There are many places where you can still learn the Tango today, even in Times Square, New York. Considered one of the easier dances to learn, you can be dancing the night away with only a few practiced moves. Of course, there are many moves available and the more you learn, the more impressive you will be. There are leg sweeps, dips, turns, leg locks and head snaps aplenty. While the two partners work together, they also often separate and perform their own freestyle. All in all, the focus is on having fun, and if you learn to Tango, you will!


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