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Traditional vs. Nuevo Tango?

04 May 2011 11:03 AM | Homer G Ladas (Administrator)
One of the founding members of the very useful and eclectic travel site Tripline, Rick asked me to answer the question:  What is the difference between traditional tango and nuevo tango?  I posted the answer on Tripline and then decided to re-post via this blog on The Organic Tango School.  Here's my answer.  Please feel free to comment...

Rick, there is a lot of controversy over what is 'traditional' tango and what is 'nuevo' tango. Unfortunately, less experienced social dancers or observers often times look for general categorical definitions of tango dance styles. In general it is a meaningless question to ponder for the more experienced social dancers, but I will try to give you a clear answer...

As you may know already, or perhaps will discover one day, trying to find an answer to your question leads to community divisiveness and separation. The main reason for this is because the labels of "traditional tango" and "nuevo tango" are primarily marketing concepts attempting to incorrectly and categorically create a definition for two styles of social dance tango that often times appear to have opposite characteristics. Since the globalization of tango in the mid-eighties and throughout the nineties, mainly external influences (US, Europe, Asia, etc) have driven this over generalization and categorization of tango styles to fit into several nice marketable groups. Every so often a new style emerges (i.e. milonguero with a nuevo twist).

Historically speaking, contemporary proponents of the term 'traditional tango' are those who are trying to preserve a sense of nostalgia over what tango was. It is an attempt to have us reflect back to the Golden Age of tango (approximately mid 1930's thru early 1950's). It is often times a mythological reflection of all the things we imagine the Golden Age to be. Where as 'nuevo tango' emerged from an exploration study group lead by Gustavo Naviera and associates in the mid 1990's. While this group helped solidify a structural approach to the dance it by no means claimed to be 'nuevo tango' until marketing forces again encouraged them to do so.

In final analysis, and to put it very pragmatically... You are either a good social dancer, or you're not, regardless of categorical style. There are bad 'traditional tango' dancers, good 'nuevo tango' dancers and vice versa. In fact, each experienced dancer will dance their own way and evolve to find their own personal style. Defining one's style in the catagorical sense rather than the individual sense only adds to the confusion and defuses one's ability to really find their own style. The question folks should be more interested in is "What makes a good social tango dancer?"
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