The Waltz and The Tango

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dwayne wilson

Mar 26, 2009, 10:52:26 PM3/26/09
to dancejag

The Waltz
The waltz, formerly known as the "Waltzen", rose to popularity in many
parts of Austria and Germany in the early 19th century. During this
time, there were many variations of the dance and they were each
called by the name of the region where it originated. The dance that
came from Landl ob der Enns, which is a region in upper Austria,
became popular and was well-known by the abbreviation "Landler". The
Landler was originally danced using heavy shoes and was comprised of
complicated underarm turns, stamping, slapping and hopping around. But
by the 1800s, it was performed with lighter footwear. This new version
had similar quick gliding steps from the modern waltz but was danced
to a slower tempo.
Another variation of the waltz was the "Boston". This is a slower
version of the more upbeat Viennese Waltz because it is danced at 90
beats a minute. It started in America around 1870. The Boston was
distinct from the other versions of the waltz because it was the first
ballroom dance to have the dancers' feet at a parallel position rather
than in the usual turned-out position. However, it retained most of
the turning figures in the waltz and introduced additional steps such
as the dip, wherein the partners would hold hands on each other's
The present form of the dance is thought to have been developed in
England around 1910 and was a derived from both the Landler and the
Boston. It this version, the performers are able to add more figures
to the slow tempo. The slow tempo also allowed dancers to add slow
"picture" steps and poses and syncopated beats to give the waltz light
and shade to make it more fascinating to watch.
The Tango
The Tango is a light and energetic Flamenco dance that originated in
Spain. The Modern Tango, however, is quite far from its origins for it
is now a combination of different styles of folk dance. The Spanish
dance and other Spanish folk dances spread to the South Americas when
the Spanish conquistadors took over. This emigration supposedly
contributed to the formation of the Modern Tango. However, the
forerunner of the Modern Tango was the African "Tangano" dance and was
imported when Negro slaves were brought to the Americas. Over the
centuries, these dances merged with other folk dances of the New
These dances from Spain and Africa eventually became combined with
another folk dance from Havana, Cuba known as the Habanera. This merge
occurred in the slums of Buenos Aires, Argentina in the late 19th
century but worked its way up to the upper classes in the early 20th
century. The merge was known as the "Milonga". This dance is known and
distinct for its softness and intimacy between the couple and the
visual emphasis on the movements of the legs. However, this was
considerably altered in Paris in the 1930s when the choreography was
combined with the stiff torso seen in other ballroom dances therefore
giving it a disjointed impression. The visual emphasis in turn was
pointed at the torso and the heads of the dancers. This change is
retained in the Modern Tango.
This dance was first performed for the elite of Western Europe by
France's greatest music-hall luminary, Mistinguett in 1910 in Paris,
France. After his performance, "Tango-mania" ran all over Paris, then
London and even to New York despite of World War I.
The mania was taken even further when it was performed by Rudolph
Valentino in his movie "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" in 1921.
The Tango's fame is strong even today when Al Pacino and Gabrielle
Anwar danced in "Scent of a Woman" in 1992 and Arnold Schwarzeneggar
and Tia Carrere in "True Lies" in 1994 gave demonstrations.
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