April 17th, 2010

Originally the Tango was (and still is) a form of Flamenco dance from Spain. With the Spanish conquest of much of South America, this Tango together with other Spanish folk dances naturally emigrated with settlers from Spain. The Tangano, an African dance imported with the slaves, over the years became merged with these Spanish originated dances and other dances from South America. In particular, in Argentina in the slums of Buenos Aires in the late 19th Century, they united with the Habanera (a folk dance from Havana in Cuba). The resulting dance became known as the Milonga. Although at first popular with the lower classes of Argentine society, by the turn of the 20th century it had gained acceptance with the upper classes. In 1910 it was brought to Europe by a French music-hall star who gave the first ever demonstration in Paris. Interest in the dance rapidly exploded as a Tangomania; first through Paris, then London and New York.
The character of the Milonga is of a very soft private dance, with visual emphasis on the leg movements. This character was changed dramatically in Paris in the 1930’s, where the dance was combined with the frame of the other ballroom dances, and given a staccato action. This moved the visual emphasis to the torso and head, a characteristic which remains to this day. This Westernisation in Paris gave us the ‘Ballroom Tango’ whilst the ‘Argentinean Tango’ continued to evolve in Latin America. In today’s Ballroom Tango, more elements of the Argentinian Tango are beginning to resurface. Marie-Louise and Garreth enjoying bringing all these elements into their tango performance, which is sensual and dramatic!

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