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Argentine Tango

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  • November 13, 2011
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The tango, which is a popular, globalized dance, fails to be examined on the basis of its origins. The tumultuous history of the Argentinean tango involved the pervasion through social classes. The origins of the Argentinean tango are based upon the evidence of several theories, one of which, is the theory of African slave descent, is widely accepted by the music community. Also, the dance itself did not appear immediately, but rather its elements were derived from dances such as the polka, mazurka, habanera, and milonga. Tango music is inextricably linked to the historic foundations of the dance itself and foreign cultural influences. In order to elucidate its roots, there must be an examination of the development of the tango’s intricate musical and cultural history. Various dances contributed to the formation of the tango dance. Its history is bound in the popular dances cited within Argentinean history. Argentina’s economy was dependent on business transactions with Europe. The importation of textiles, machinery, and luxury goods were valued, as well as the exchange of fashion, music, and dance. Such influences, music and dance of Europe in particular, were pivotal in the invention of the tango. In 1816, the first new European dance, the waltz, was introduced in Argentina. The Argentinean elite held this dance as the proper, appropriate way of dance within their social class. This was followed years later by the polka, mazurka, and the schottische. It is the habanera and the polka, which were designated as the factors that lead to the formation of the milonga, a local Argentinean dance. The milonga is cited to be “the embryonic form of the tango before the new dance was given a name” (Nouzeilles 2002:197). Both the milonga and the habanera are apart of the tango’s ancestry. It has been observed that the tango derived, “…exaggerated movements and abrupt suggestive pauses” (Collier 1992:97) from these dances. Although the milonga and the...