Pushing the "tango purists"’ buttons

I am generally more interested in posting my thoughts than posting interesting things (videos, articles, etc) that I have found, but I am going to post a video here as a kind of illustration and jumping off point:


I really like tango, and I really like contact improvisation. I also like the idea of finding a way to cross boundaries in dance, to fuse or draw inspiration from different genres. But there’s something about this video that seems off to me. The thing is, a lot of what I see here is a kind of moving back and forth between genres. A moment of tango, then a moment of contact improv, and so on. The feeling created by one is disrupted by the other.

Is there a way that we can do both tango and contact improvisation not just in the same dance but at the same time? I mean, tango itself is improvisational, so I would imagine that we could play with that, with the contact, and still keep the mood and the flow. I’m not sure how that would look, I’m not sure if it would end up working any differently than the video posted above (and I don’t mean to negate what these dancers are doing – it just isn’t my preference for dance fusion and playing across genres). I don’t know many tanguer@s who do contact improvisation or other dances that I want to play with, but it seems like that kind of experimentation would be a fun way to spend a practica or a dance jam.


5 thoughts on “Pushing the "tango purists"’ buttons

  1. I think there is something not easy to do. Tango and Contact are, in a way almost opposite dances. The tango, in general, looks for aesthetic, even when in social dances the what partners feel is crucial too. All kind of tangueros what to look good. In Contact dancers are experimenting with his bodies and movements, how that looks is not important. And even more, tango is dance with roles and specially with attitudes very differentiates. You have both kind of sensuality, manly and womanly. Contact is more an asexual dance. What I mean is they are very different dances, so is hard to mixed without show too much contrast, what probably won’t look good.But yes, you can use some techniques of contact in tango, as, for example, Pablo and Dana do, and look great. BesosPS. I think it will be good if you allow to all kind of comments, not only for people registered in gmail account, more people will let here their opinion.

  2. Yes, I think I am more interested in the techniques and the results of contact than in actually doing a lot of contact while dancing tango – which is probably why I am not as fond of the flow in the video that I posted. I hadn’t thought about the difference in feeling v. looking good, or the role of gender in the two dances. Thanks!Also, thanks for pointing out the restriction on comments; I hadn’t noticed that I had that restriction set. Hopefully now more people will be able to leave their thoughts!

  3. Hmmm…I am a tango purist.I understand (or empathize) with people’s desire to express themselves artistically. I get that.But with tango, I have to ask why? Tango is so beautiful, and so artistic, and so fulfilling in so many ways, I don’t get why people feel the need to muck it up with other stuff.I have to believe that they don’t yet fully “get” tango. If they are not fullfilled in dancing tango and tango alone, in it’s purest form, and feel this need to do other stuff with it – then to me, they can’t truly understand tango in the first place.

  4. I don’t agree that people who don’t dance “pure” tango don’t get tango. I mean, first we have to define what “pure” tango is – do we limit ourselves to one style, or can pure tango include milonguero, salon, nuevo styles? In which case, where do we draw the line between nuevo and the fusion of tango with genres like contact or modern dance? What appeals to me is the possibility of expanding what tango can be or finding a new dance genre through the fusion with other dances. That kind of experimentation is how new dances can develop and how we can find new ways to express ourselves.All of my thoughts about dance fusion do not mean that sometimes all I really want is tango, in whatever “pure” form I imagine I am dancing it. Tango for tango.

  5. Ah, Martha Graham Tango….These are clearly very skilled dancers, but I’m surprised at how much more graceful she is while tangoing that while twirling around in the air.As for the exploring/expanding/purist, etc. arguments – they are circular. There is no way to convince one camp of the other’s point of view. However, anyone who says that “traditional” tango is boring has ceased to keep exploring within tango itself and has fallen into a rut of doing the same patterns and movements over and over.

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