Dramatic movements? maybe? Big movements? Perhaps? Well, lets take a look at what Tango Nuevo is and what it isn't. Or even if there is such a thing as "Tango Nuevo".
Very loosely, Tango Nuevo describes the direction that the Argentine tango has taken since its renaissance at the fall of the Argentine dictatorship in the 1980's. During the dictatorship, tango was hidden for certain reasons and fewer Argentines were exposed to the dance. There had been a dramatic decline in the tango since its Golden Age in the 1930s- 50s.
What happened in the 1980s? Two things: the dictatorship ended, allowing Argentines to live freely and rediscover their roots; a big Broadway production on tango caught the eye of foreigners and suddenly people were screaming from the rooftops "I want to tango!!!"
And so, a dance thats was dying with the last of the old milongueros was resurrected from the ashes as young Argentines started to explore tango again. But their perspective was not the same as their grandparents. So much had changed in society since the Golden Age. Firstly, the role of women was different. Secondly, a world of dance and movement had developed - encompassing biomechanics, eastern thought and contemporary dance. Thirdly, the mind of the dancer was more free to ask "How?"Why?" and "What if?".
These questions gave rise to a deep analysis of the Argentine tango and the possibility of creating beauty, harmony and tension between two human beings. This analysis led to the discovery of many new steps. The primary misconception about tango nuevo is that it is defined by these new steps.This is mistaking the outcome (the steps) for the process (discovery). There is no universal agreement among prominant nuevo dancers about what tango should be or how a sacada should be led. That is not the purpose of the profound exploration that dancers engage in. If there is any one unifying characteristic of the nuevo movement, it is the deep investigation of the dance, rather than the new steps that it generates.
The development of tango is a dialogue, an internal dialogue within the couple and within the dance community. There are movements back and forward, to open and closed embrace, from focus on figures to focus on connection. These changes are similar to the development of language. New vocabulary emerges which reflects thinking. Dialects develop. Fashions emerge. Dogmacists try to insist that there is only 'correct' form. This is a natural evolution.
The truth is that the tango is constantly changing. It is not a historical artefact preserved in a bottle of formalin. It is alive (and kicking!). Seasoned dancers in Buenos Aires are reformulating their understanding of the dance every year.
One characterstic of the tango is that it is a 'popular' (spanish) dance ie. it is a dance of the people and it represents the traditions and growth of society. There is no Royal Academy of Tango, presribing how you should place your heel. There are thought leaders and personalities which pervade as in any art form. There was never one tango. Even in the Golden Era, different forms developed in the higglydy pigglydy barrios of Buenos Aires.
In ten years people will be reflecting on"Tango Nuevo" and how it impacted on the future tango..... another discovery that reaches into history while projecting forward.
The tango originates from the Candombe, brought to the Rio de la Plata by African slaves. These were people who understood sensuality and who came from societies deeply connected to the earth and to others. Throughout its history Argentine tango has maintained its connection to the earth while piercing the heart of the dancer through the deep connection it creates between and inside people. It has been shaped by many changes in society and grows organically with us, like so much in life.
I don't know if I teach tango nuevo but I know that tango will offer me a life of endless discovery! Adventurers, this way!.