The Rise of International Tango, Movements, Music & Competitions The Rise of International Tango, Movements, Music & Competitions

The Rise of International Tango, Movements, Music & Competitions

story by Danceus Staff for

International Tango is known to be the most classical form of Tango dance that there is. It has a very structured format that dancers and competition adjudicators utilize, and does not have much freedom to experiment. International Tango is comparable to Classical Ballet in this respect. Formerly known as English Tango, this dance originally developed from Argentine Tango. Both Tango music and Tango dance have left a lasting impression on the world in all of its forms.

The Rise of International Tango

International Tango stems from the same Argentine Tango that developed in Buenos Aires about a century ago. However, the International Tango style has developed over the years as a widely accepted competitive style, and has been hugely influenced by sources outside of its Buenos Aires birthplace.

The first glimpse of Tango that British audiences saw was in the musical The Sunshine Girl. This comedy was a huge hit in 1912, and led to the spread of Tango across the entire European continent. However, the dancers who picked up this dance style felt free to include their own ideals, their own cultures and their own separate techniques to the Tango. This eventually led to a whole separate style of Tango altogether.

In 1922, the English decided that their really needed to be a universal competitive style of Tango, and that is when the English Tango was born. However, the name has since transitioned to International Tango, and the dance itself is the standard for worldwide competition.

Over the years, other cultures have exercised a heavy influence on the International Style, as well. In particular, Italian influences have injected a tremendous amount of their own flavor into the International Tango. The dance is all the better for it, as the standard by which competitors are judged are more strenuous.

The Movements Associated with International Tango

International Tango is so different from the original Argentine Tango that it does not actually follow a Latin rhythm. Many of its features are clearly different from its mother dance. For instance, the following characteristics are indicative primarily of International Tango.

  • No rise and fall is evident in International Tango.
  • International Tango contrasts quick steps with slow counts. This is in complete opposition of what one will find in American Tango, another of Argentine Tango's byproducts.
  • No foot swivel is apparent in International Tango.
  • Posture is of utmost important. Poor posture is heavily frowned upon by judges in competition.
  • The hold used in International Tango is always closed.

Different Tango Styles

There are numerous diverse styles of Tango, some for the ballroom and others which are not. American Tango, Argentine Tango and International Tango are each different forms of Tango ballroom dances. However, there are numerous styles of Tango in its homeland of Buenos Aires that are less widely known, some of which are even performed solo. In addition, there are different dance styles across the globe that is melding their own dance traditions with Tango to form a hybrid style of dance.

The key difference between all of these diverse styles of Tango and the International Tango is simple. International Tango is a competitive style, and although derived from a Latin country nearly a century ago, it is now fully a dance of its own. It has been molded and formed over the years by many cultures.

Tango Music

Tango music, like the dance, originated from Buenos Aires. However, there is a wide consensus that both have even deeper roots in Africa, and perhaps even in Cuba. Regardless, the Golden Age of Tango music took place from about 1932 to 1952. Big bands began to play Tango. It was made popular both on-screen and via recording artists, such as Carlos Gardel. Tango music continues to have a huge influence on classical music repertoires today.

International Tango and Competitions

International Tango is the most widely accepted form of competitive Tango. It is very classy, and is the standard for such competitions as DanceSport. There is a standardized syllabus that dancers may refer to when choreographing and developing their competition pieces. Those who fail to comply with the rules often have points deducted, and occasionally may even be completely eliminated from a competition. Popular International Tango competitions are the Michigan Ballroom Dance Competition, the World Tango Championship and the New York City International Ballroom Competition. However, there are numerous others all over the world.

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