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8. Styles of Argentine Tango

Introduction
It is important for us foreigners to have some historical background knowledge regarding the evolution of Argentine Tango between its musics and dance forms to appreciate this culture.  Circa 1936, Juan D'Arienzo had returned the way tango sounded, driving beat.  Some believed that, without the appearance of D'Arienzo, tango could have died by the end of 30s.  Apparently, due to the slump of world economy between the 20s and 30s and all the other available music and dances from Europe and from the United States of America, interest in tango music had declined.  Also, tango music had evolved in complexity in melody and harmony and become too difficult for dancing.  
D'Arienzo's music were played for the dancers rather than for the listening public, rhythm over melody and harmony and interest in tango was revived.  D'Arienzo's orchestra frequently played in the downtown of Buenos Aires where milonga venues were usually smaller and were packed with dancers.  El Centro tango dance style was born due to the lack of space and the driving beats.  
On the other hand, Di Sarli's music were smooth, melodic and grand.  His orchestra played in the larger venues and another tango dance style was born, Tango de Salon, due to the availability of more space to afford larger smoother slower movements to his music.  
It is interesting to note that both El Centro and Tango de Salon were danced in close embrace before 1960's.  Open embrace style tango did not exist until social tango had become show tango on the stages.  
Simply put, the venue's available space and the music had influenced the evolution of tango.  
In another word, tango is danced to the texture of the music, in a social environment with the fellow dancers with the available space.
The following is a quick run down of the evolution of  the musicalities of different orquestas as demonstrated by the pianist Mario-Marzan: 

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A. TANGO de SALON
Salons mean ballrooms.  Due to the fact that salons are much more spacious, the available repertoire of the leader and follower is far more elaborate than in small space.  The embrace can vary between open and close throughout a song depending on the required movements.  The right hand of the leader is usually around the vicinity of the left shoulder blade, mid back or lower back of the follower.  The right hand of the leader does not extent to the right shoulder blade of the follower.  Constant torso contact and shared axis between partners are not restrictive.  Leader's right hand may not even be in constant contact with the follower's back throughout a song.  Majority of the leads come from the right palm, the right forearm and the elbow pit.   The left hand has minimal duty.  The tango walk is characterized by smooth elegant toe lead stride.  Embellishments and moves are only limited to the abilities of the dancers.

A.1 VILLA URQUIZA STYLE - NEIGHBORHOOD ORIGIN

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A.1.1 - Gerardo Portalea

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A.1.2 - 
Ramón Rivera
 

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A.1.3 - Jose Vazquez (Lampazo)

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A.1.4 - El Turco, 
José Brahemcha

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A.1.5 - Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs

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A.1.6 - El Chino Perico

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A.1.7 - Jorge Dispari and La Turca

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A.1.8 - Miguel Balmaceda

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A1.9 - Pupi Castello

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A.1.10 - Javier Rodriguez 

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A.1.11 - Gabriel Misse

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A1.12 - Antonio Todaro

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A1.13 - Pepito Avellaneda

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A1.14 - Raul Bravo

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A1.15 - Mingo & Esther Pugliese 

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B. ALMAGRO STYLE - CLUB ORIGIN

Circa 1997

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Circa 1998

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Circa 2000

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C. APILADO STYLE

This style is associated with dancing in smaller crowded space.  The embrace is compact with the partners leaning forward to a common axis, cheek to cheek.  The constant torso contact and shared axis are kept throughout a song.  Embellishments and moves are limited as available space is rare.  This style is pride on playing with the rhythms and the beats of the songs.  The tango walk is characterized by numerous shorter steps. 

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D. TANGO CANYENGUE/ ORILLERO

This style is characterized by playfulness with the rhythm and beats [2/4] of the songs - stop and go. The embrace is done with leader's left hand down below the toro and cheek to cheek in V-offset.  The constant torso contact and shared axis are typical to this style.  The knees are bent and the tango walk is not smooth and is comprised of small steps.  The lead is done with the right arm just above the waist.

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E. CARLOS GAVITO

Carlos Gavito's style is visually very distinctive from all of the above styles.  

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F. TANGO FANTASIA

This style is characterized by a choreographed movements.  The movements are accented with dramatic posts, large athletic embellishments and cabaret style lifts.  The constant contact and shared axis are not a given.  This style is meant for stage performance and not for social dancing environment.

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G. TANGO NUEVO

This style is characterized by circular movements where constant embrace is not required.  The dance is punctuated with lifts, under-arm turns, rocking steps, sudden stops, leg wraps, sacadas, kicks and other non-restrictive body movements.

Circa 2006

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Circa 2006
 

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Circa 2004

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Circa 2008

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H. YOUR OWN STYLE

One of our tango teachers told us to learn from him but do not copy exactly.  Pay attention to the techniques that were being presented but not to the exact sequence of all the steps from start to finish.  

Above all, let the music moves you, because tango is the music.  

I. VALS

Julio Balmaceda & Corina de la Rosa

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J. MILONGA

Julio Balmaceda & Corina de la Rosa

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