Tango is an essential part of the Argentinian experience
and the Choir's tour includes a visit to one of BA's top shows.
It seems impossible to imagine Argentina without thinking of tango, its greatest export to the world. Tango originated with a guitar and violin toward the end of the 19th century and was first danced by working-class men in La Boca, San Telmo, and the port area. Encouraged by European approval, Argentine middle and upper classes began to accept the newly refined dance as part of their cultural identity, and the form blossomed with the extraordinary voice of Carlos Gardel, who brought tango to Broadway and Hollywood and is nothing short of legendary among Argentines. Astor Piazzolla further internationalized the tango, elevating it to a more complex form incorporating classical elements.
Tango music can range from two musicians to a complete orchestra, but a piano and bandoneón -- an instrument akin to an accordion -- are usually included. Lyrics often come from Argentina's great poets, such as Jorge Luis Borges, Homero Manzi, and Horacio Ferrer. Common themes tend to be a downtrodden life or a woman's betrayal, making this style akin to American jazz and blues, which developed at the same time. The dance itself is improvised rather than standardized, consisting of a series of long walks and intertwined movements, usually in eight-step. In the tango, the man and woman glide across the floor as an exquisitely orchestrated duo with early flirtatious movements giving way to dramatic leads and heartfelt turns, with the man always leading the way. These movements, such as the kicks that simulate knife movements, or the sliding, shuffled feet that mimic the walk of a gangster sidling up to someone to stab them, echo the dance's rough roots as the favored dance of La Boca gangsters in spite of its glamorous beauty as performed nowadays.