The dance is the thing with which we are concerned and contains within itself it owns arrangement and history and finale. Cormac McCarthy, Boold Meridian (1985)
Tango is self-transformation. Sally Sommer, dance historian (summer 2000)
Tango spanned the twentieth century. It was the fabulous dance of the past hundred years and the most beautiful, in the opinion of Martha Graham.
The shape of the tango is made up of moments: a swift sudden entrance, a sweep of the feet, an advance, a retreat, a halt and a start, a displacement of hips, and a freeze, as if hanging in air. Pablo Ziegler (1997)
More important than applause, laughter, or tears is making an audience become silent. Juan Carlos Copes (January 7, 2001)
Late 19th century Buenos Aires teemed with immigrants from Europe and Africa, many of whom found themselves lonely and looking for companionship in their new home. These forlorn people found their way to the salons, seeking drinks to drown their sorrows, temporary friendship, and any entertainment to help ease their depression. The mix of cultures combined to bring about a new style of music, formed from African beats, Indian rhythms, Latin influences, and the popular music of the pampas (flatlands) in Argentina. This new music was dubbed Tango.
The dance that began as a pantomime of communication between prostitute and pimp was filled with emotions, sexual energy and suggestive gyrations. This choreography was accented by the melancholy drone of the bandoneon, a German instrument very similar to the accordion. In the early 1900s, a less vulgar form of tango was exported to France, where it was further refined and quickly gained popularity with the Parisian high society. Adding classy clothes, ballrooms, lyrics, and an orchestra, the Tango was revolutionized for the rich and became popular all over Europe, the USA, and was even embraced by the upper class of Argentina---the same people who once shunned its odious beginnings.
Gives us the definitive account of tango, “the fabulous dance of the past hundred years and the most beautiful, in the opinion of Martha Graham.”
From it syncretic evolution in the nineteenth century partaking of European, Andalusian-Gauch, and unbeknownst to many, African influences to its representations by Hollywood and dramatizations in dance halls throughout the world, Thompson shows us tango not only as brilliant choreography but also as text, music, art and philosophy of life.
“Thompson performs a fascinating dissection of tango, picking apart its history with an enthusiast’s passion and a scholar’s authority. Pulling references from poetry, painting, and most potently from African dance, he show us tango as an ecstatic manifestation of life’s emotional dynamics and inflames us with his reverence for the form.” Mikhai Baryshnikov