Tango (r)evolution

In 1983 Argentina was finally free from the oppression of a military junta that stayed in power for 7 years, causing much damage to the society and the economic system of Argentina. This was not the first time the country had been under a despotic government, but that time, in 1983, something changed even for tango.

This dance, which had been previously exalted and emphasized by Peròn‘s government (since it fitted in nicely with his populist and nationalist political line), had been repressed in all its forms. The music, the dance, but most importantly the social side of tango dancing had been prohibited since all public gatherings (that could bring together “subversives”, “communists” and so on…) had been outlawed for fear of the rising of a social and political opposition.

Tango had also been outmoded by rock’n’roll music and dance, which was of course much more fanciable for young people.

In 1983 things changed. The military junta fell and Argentina saw the first democratic election in many years, the population was certainly devastated by the absurd and cruel and terrible deeds of the military dictatorship [1] and somehow needed a fresh start.

Tango was part of this social and cultural renaissance with many young dancers (such as Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs) touring the world with their shows and many old dancers who were rediscovering their passion and their past without the oppression of the censorship.

While people all over the world started taking tango lessons, the need of renewal began to stir the tango community in Argentina.

Gustavo Naveira was the first dancer who tried to venture into the dangerous path of changing and giving structure to a popular dance, he initiated the process who brought to the ever changing movement of the tango nuevo.

This new era of tango began with the music evolution proposed, from 1960 onward, by Astor Piazzolla, who was previously a “traditional” tango musician and then began to explore the possible connections (and resulting changes) of tango music with other, more international genres such as jazz and blues. The outcome shook the foundation of the traditional idea of tango music and was, at first, not very well received (if not rejected) in its own home country. Outside Argentina this “new music of Buenos Aires, the new tango” (as he defined it during his concert in Central Park, NY) became an instant success, even if it was not a music to dance, rather a music to listen.

Some twenty years later the dance too began to change and develop. Soon there wasn’t only Naveira, but also its disciples Fabian Salas and Mariano “Chicho” Frumboli, there was Pablo Veron who, among other outstanding achievements, starred the film The Tango Lesson and other new dancers continued their study and investigation of tango and reached new levels of dance, introducing other dances inside the tango (elements of salsa and contemporary and modern dance for instance) and stressing new features such the connection between dancing partners.

The tango nuevo movement has now become complex, varied and extensive and a “list” of features, of dancers or musicians is bound to leave someone out so, just for the sake of listing, here is a very small, incomplete and partial (since it’s me, not a jury who’s proposing it :)) list of dancers and musicians and their websites, for further references.

There are Sebastian Arce and Mariana Montes, Pablo Villaraza and Dana Frigoli, Ezequiel Farfaro and Eugenia Parrilla, Gaston Torelli and Mariela Sametband. Naveira, Salas, Frumboli and Veron continue their work on the evolution of the dance to these days, all with different styles and conceptions, creating that variety of the tango nuevo movement which is one of its strength and which makes it dynamic.

As for the musicians Gotàn Project,Carlos Libedinsky with his Narcotango,Tanghetto and Bajofondo Tango Club are probably the most famous of the lot.

I’ll leave you know with two great dances…one with traditional, one with “tango nuevo” music…so to have a little taste of both…

~ by PensaloBien on November 15, 2007.

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