Tango Campeonato (Tango Dancesport): The Modification of Tango de Salon for Competition (A Specific Niche)

  • The Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango (World Tango Championship), held annually in Buenos Aires, consists of competitions in tango dancing in two categories – Tango de Pista (previously called Tango de Salon) and Tango Escenario (Stage Tango). The rules for dancing in the Tango de Pista competition (as well as in the former Tango de Salon division) imply that the dancing in this category resembles social dancing in the milongas of Buenos Aires.
  • Video recordings of the Tango de Pista competition indicate that much of the dancing is an amplification of Tango de Salon (Estilo del Barrio), characterized by a tense posture, rapid and dramatic movements, and overuse of adornments. In this competitive dancing, there are frequent violations of milonga codes, in that dancers (particularly women) lift their legs higher than the level of the knee, which is ostentatious and can be navigational hazard. Dancers also use colgadas, patadas and wide calesitas, which are not chracteristics of Tango de Salon. Recordings of exhibitions of the winners of the Tango de Pista competition at the Campeonato Mundial indicate further that conventions of social dancing at milongas are not followed. Campeonato Mundial regulations for the Tango de Pista (previously Tango de Salon) category have been modified in recent years to no longer prohibit lifting the leg above the knee and now specifically permit ganchos, documenting the relaxation of milonga codes.
  • The manner of dancing in the Tango de Pista category of the Campeonato Mundial differs significantly from the predominant stylistic variant danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires – Tango Estilo del Centro (aka Tango Milonguero).
  • Discrepancies of Tango de Pista dancing with the Tango de Salon danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires, as well as the environmental context of competition, indicate that the former is a genre of tango separate from the latter; the term Tango Campeonato (in English, Tango Dancesport) is applied here to this identifiably different genre of tango dancing.
  • Winning the Tango de Pista competition significantly increases teaching opportunities worldwide for these dance couples. Tango festivals and weekends routinely advertise the credentials of these dance couples as winners of the Tango de Pista (or Tango de Salon) competition in the Campeonato Mundial. Exhibitions given by these couples at tango festivals indicate further that their manner of dancing often does not conform to the standards for Tango de Salon. These exhibitions, in conjunction with some aspects of their teaching, provide a misrepresentation of Tango de Salon to students of tango which, in many cases, has an impact on the manner of dancing on the milonga dance floor in tango communities worldwide.
  • Tango Campeonato is best understand for what it really is – a modification of Tango de Salon Estilo del Barrio for competition, particularly with respect to the conspicuousness and difficulty of movements. There is typically a high level of dance expertise indicated in the execution of dance movements during this competition. This manner of dancing is designed to attract the attention of judges and earn a high rating. It should be appreciated for what it is – skilled tango dancing on display, but not regarded as a model for tango dancing at a milonga.

 

The Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango (World Tango Dance Championship) has been held annually in Buenos Aires since 2003. It is part of the Festival y Mundial de Tango that includes concerts, performances, tango classes, and milongas in addition to the international tango competition. There are 2 categories for competition – tango escenario (stage tango) and tango de pista, the latter known as tango de salon until 2012. “Tango de Pista is conceived as a social dance, where the most important aspects are the improvisation, embrace and connection between the dance partners.” (link for quote) There is also an annual Campeonato Metropolitano de Baile de Tango de Buenos Aires for citizens and legal residents of the city of Buenos Aires, which has competitions only in Tango de Pista, with separate categories for Tango de Pista Adulto, Tango de Pista Senior, Milonga, and Vals (link). Winners in the Tango de Pista Adulto and Tango Senior categories automatically qualify for the final round of the Tango de Pista competition in the Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango later in the year; second and third place finishers in the Campeonato Metropolitano automatically qualify for the semifinal round.

With the Tango de Pista category classified as a ‘social dance’ in the Campeonato Mundial, there are certain regulations regarding the character of the dance permitted in this competition.

  • Couples will have to constantly move counterclockwise without going backwards. They will be allowed, if needed, to walk one or two step backwards at most.
  • The couple must be aware and respectful of their own and other couples’ space in the round in order not to break the harmony when moving around. If a couple performs more than two phrases in the same spot, obstructing the circulation on the dance floor, the Jury may consider lowering their score.
  • Once formed, the couple must not separate while the music is playing. For the position to be considered correct, the body of one of the members of the couple must be contained at all the time by the arm of the other. It is understood that in certain figures this may be flexible, but not throughout the whole duration of the dance. All movements must be made within the space allowed by the couple’s embrace, so as not to get in the way of the other couples dancing.
  • The couple may perform any commonly used figures of “social” tango, including barridas (sweeps), sacadas al piso (drawn to the floor), enrosques (twists), ganchos (hooks), boleos, etc., as well as embellishments always within their own space, without standing in the way of couples dancing around them. Jumps, figures that involve lifting both feet off the ground and any other choreographic possibilities typical of Stage Tango are completely forbidden.
  • The Jury will take into account the couple’s musicality, elegant walking style, but especially the connection between partners and the search for their own expression, as well as the ability to change the dynamics and speed accordingly depending on the tango being played.

Notably, ganchos were not included within the realm of ‘social tango’ in the 2016 regulations, and were specifically excluded for use in the 2017 Campeonato Metropolitano. (See Appendix.) A review of previously available competition regulations indicates that in 2010, for the Tango de Salon category, ganchos were specifically prohibited and it was stated that ‘None of the members of the couple may lift his/her legs beyond the line of the knees.‘ Notably, use of ganchos and lifting legs high off the floor are not considered appropriate for dancing at the milonga, i.e., are not part of Tango de Salon [Tango de Salon: The Tango of the Milonga (Part II of ‘Tango Styles, Genres and Individual Expression’)].

Videos of the final rounds of the Campeonato Mundial in recent years indicate the manner of dancing displayed at the Tango de Pista competition (201720162015). There are common choreographic characteristics among the dancers. [Terminology follows closely Benzecry Saba (New Glossary of Tango Dance; Abrazos Books, Stuttgart, Germany, 2010), some of which is described and illustrated in Women’s Adornments for Tango Social Dancing.] All couples begin dancing in an embrace and walk in an upright posture; opening the embrace for giros and ochos is commonplace. Sacadas are frequently used by the men during giros; occasionally patadas (kicks between the legs of the woman) are used. Men also frequently interject lapices (circular drawings on floor) and enrosques (corkscrew disassociation) in their giros. A parada is typically executed with one foot stopping the woman’s movement. Men may also occasionally lead women in a calesita (carrousel). Occasionally a gancho or a colgada is inserted into the dance. Women’s dancing is liberally infused with adornments such as boleos and cuatros, as well as occasional use of caricias (stroking foot or leg of man with foot). Both men and women occasionally use such adornments such as dibujos (small circular drawings) and golpeteos (taps). Notably, both women (mostly) and men frequently were observed lifting their legs above the knee (mostly in high boleos and cuatros) [e.g., in 2017 competition (at 4:51, 5:00, 5:04, 5:40, 5:46, 6:06, 6:08, 6:12, 6:31, 6:46, 7:40, 7:51, 8:07, 8:30, 9:00, 9:12, 9:18, 9:20, 9:27, 9:50, 10:36, 10:42, 10:44, 10:52, 11:05, 11:09, 11:23, 11:52, 12:16, 12:20, 12:26, 12:29, 12:46); in 2016 competition (at 0:18, 0:28, 0:39, 0:56, 1:00, 1:44, 2:08, 2:10, 2:14, 2:17, 2:19, 2:57, 3:19, 3:22, 3:26, 4:06, 4:26, 4:37, 4:38, 4:39, 5:24, 5:25, 5:26, 5:28, 5:31, 6:25, 6:57, 7:53, 8:11, 8:32, 8:35, 8:39); in 2015 competition (at 4:34, 4:35, 4:37, 4:43, 5:35, 5:38, 5:45, 5:46, 5:50, 5:51, 7:07, 7:49, 8:58, 9:00, 9:13, 9:25, 9:38, 9:46, 9:48, 9:50, 11:43, 12:37, 12:47, 13:00, 13:53)]. Evidence from these recordings indicates that the social courtesy of keeping one’s feet close to the ground [ Do Milongas Exist outside Argentina? (The Milonga Codes Revisted): #47] is not required in the Tango de Pista competition at the Campeonato Mundial.

The winners of the Tango de Pista competition give a short exhibition upon announcement of their victory at the Campeonato Mundial de Tango (2017: German Ballejo & Magdalena Gutierrez; 2016: Cristian Palomo & Melisa Sacchi; 2015: Jonathan Saavedra & Clarisa Aragon). These exhibitions may deviate at times from competition rules or social tango conventions, as indicated by a jump (at 3:08) and opening of the embrace (at 1:51) by German Ballejo & Magdalena Gutierrez, lifting of the leg above the knee by Gutierrez (at 1:09, 1:14, 1:54, 1:56, 1:58, 2:13, 2:51, 2:52, 2:53, 3:07, 3:09) and by Ballejo (2:38, 3:04, 3:05, 3:10), ganchos by Ballejo (at 3:05, 3:07), and numerous cases of lifting of the leg above the knee by Cristian Palomo (0:49, 1:12, 2:01, 2:03, 2:05) and Melisa Sacchi (1:02, 1:31, 1:32, 2:30), and by Clarisa Aragon (at 3:08, 3:12, 3:46, 3:53, 3:59, 4:47, 4:48, 4:59, 5:15 ) and Jonathan Saavedra (at 4:18).

Tango de Pista versus Tango de Salon (Estilo del Barrio & Estilo del Centro)

The Tango de Pista competition in the Campeonato Mundial used to be called Tango de Salon, so comparisons with the Tango de Salon of the milongas are warranted. Certain movements used by couples in the Tango de Pista competition are considered to be inappropriate in the milonga setting. Ganchos, colgadas, patadas, and high boleos and cuatros are ostentatious and therefore their use is a violation of milonga codes of behavior [Do Milongas Exist outside Argentina? (The Milonga Codes Revisited)]; likewise the wide diameter, long duration calesitas seen in the Campeonato Mundial contrast with the subtle and brief calesitas that are permissible in the milonga setting. (Viewing of additional recordings of Campeonato Mundial Tango de Pista recordings might reveal additional movements not characteristic of Tango de Salon.) Therefore, on the basis of permissible movements, Tango de Pista is not Tango de Salon.

Nevertheless, the movements used by dancers within the Tango de Pista competition rounds in the Campeonato Mundial otherwise resemble characteristics of Tango de Salon Estilo del Barrio (previously referred to as Tango Estilo Villa Urquiza), as indicated by opening of the embrace for ochos and giros, frequent paradas, and liberal use of adornments. Historically and even today this style of dancing is more characteristic of the Milongas del Barrio (in the residential neighborhoods distant from the city center of Buenos Aires) than of the Milongas del Centro [Tango de Salon: The Tango of the Milonga (Part II of ‘Tango Styles, Genres and Individual Expression’)]. Some respected lifelong practitioners of Tango Estilo del Barrio are represented in the following videos of their exhibitions [Jorge Dispari & Maria del Carmen, El Chino Perico (Ricardo Ponce) & Silvini Damiani, Miguel Balmaceda, Mingo & Ester Pugliese]. (It should be noted that a few of the movements used in these exhibitions would not be permissible at a milonga.) Although there is some similarity in the repertoire of steps used by both lifelong practitioners of Tango Estilo del Barrio and Tango de Pista competitors, there are also some important stylistic differences in their dancing. The lifelong practitioners of Tango de Salon Estilo del Barrio dance in a more relaxed manner (i.e., less rigid body posture), incorporating more walking and fewer giros, done at a more leisurely pace. There are more pauses in their dancing. They use fewer adornments. Overall, their dancing is less dramatic. However, one needs to consider that the less dramatic and more leisurely movements of the lifelong practitioners of Tango Estilo del Barrio may be due in part to older age.

When reviewing video recordings of dancing at some Milongas del Barrio where younger dancers are well represented (e.g., Sunderland Club in Villa Urquiza, La Baldosa in Flores), it is apparent that among those younger dancers dancing in a style characteristic of Tango Estilo del Barrio, there is more energy in movement and greater use of more conspicuous movements compared to the older dancers at these same milongas although, as expected, the technique of the younger dancers is not as good as the participants in the Campeonato Mundial; the younger Tango Estilo del Barrio dancers at the milongas also incorporate fewer adornments and leg lifting movements into their dancing compared to dancers in the Tango de Pista competition.

In some respects, dancing in the Tango de Pista competition also resembles Tango Fantasia, a 1940s development of exhibition tango that elaborated upon Tango Estilo del Barrio of that period, making it more dramatic and conspicuous (Stage Tango / Show Tango / Exhibition Tango / Tango Fantasia / Tango for Export). The following exhibitions at milongas by professional stage tango dancers Miguel Angel Zotto & Milena Plebs and by Osvaldo Zotto & Lorena Ermocida indicate the similarity of Tango Fantasia to dancing in the Tango de Pista competition.

The Tango de Pista competition (labeled prior to 2013 as ‘Tango de Salon’) in the Campeonato Mundial, in its stated regulations appears to be intended to represent the tango of the milongas (Tango de Salon), although a trend towards relaxation of milonga codes is apparent in the abandonment of prior restrictions against raising the leg above the knee and, more recently, allowing the use of ganchos (and apparently also colgadas, patadas and highly visible calesitas). Tango de Salon has two primary stylistic variations – Tango Estilo del Barrio, originating in the Milongas del Barrio in the 1940s, and Tango Estilo del Centro (often referred to as Tango Estilo Milonguero), originating in the Milongas del Centro around the same time [See Tango Estilo del Barrio (versus Estilo Villa Urquiza) / Tango Estilo del Centro (versus Estilo Milonguero)]. In reality, virtually all couples in the Tango de Pista competition model their dancing (albeit in a somewhat exaggerated form) only on Tango de Salon Estilo del Barrio, with it characteristic upright posture, opening of the embrace for giros and ochos, and use of clearly visible adornments. Tango Estilo del Centro, with its forward leaning posture, maintained embrace, and subtle (if any) use of adornments is rarely represented in the Campeonato Mundial. In contrast, in the Tango Senior category of the Campeonato Metropolitano, Tango Estilo del Centro is more widely represented; notably, practitioners of Tango Estilo del Barrio in this competition also dance in a less exaggerated manner, dancing instead in a manner that is more typical of dancers at milongas with this style of dancing (as seen in the videos above). Clearer examples of Tango de Salon Estilo del Centro are seen in these videos of Ricardo Vidort & Myriam Pincen, Osvaldo Centeno & Ana Maria Shapira, and Pedro ‘Tete’ Rusconi & Sylvia Ceriani. Recordings of dancing at Milongas del Centro (e.g., Lo de Celia, Club Gricel) indicate that the overwhelming majority of dancers dance in a style characteristic of Tango Estilo del Centro. Notably, Tango Estilo del Centro also is more widely represented today among dancers in Buenos Aires milongas in general (including both Milongas del Centro and Milongas del Barrio) than is Tango Estilo del Barrio [Tango de Salon: The Tango of the Milonga (Part II of ‘Tango Styles, Genres and Individual Expression’)]. Nevertheless, what is danced in the Tango de Pista competition in the Campeonato Mundial is almost exclusively an elaboration of Tango Estilo del Barrio. However, in 2004, the second year of the Campeonato Mundial, the winners of the Tango de Salon competition were Osvaldo & Luisa Inés Cartery, who danced in manner characteristic of Tango Estilo del Centro. (They appear to be the only Tango de Salon / Tango de Pista category winners representing this style of tango dancing.)

Social Impact of Campeonato Mundial Tango de Pista Winners

Dancing in the Tango de Pista category at the Campeonato Mundial, whether viewed in person or via recordings, may be seen by some current or aspiring tango dancers as a model for social dancing at a milonga. The labeling of the dancing as Tango de Pista or Tango de Salon, of course, immediately creates that impression. The formation of a ronda also may support that interpretation. However, as discussed above, the manner of dancing in this competition deviates from dancing at a milonga (Tango de Salon) in significant ways. Therefore, Tango de Pista competition dancing can have a negative impact on dancing at milongas, inspiring social tango dancers to unload at rapid speed a conspicuous repertoire of complex movements, richly embellished, to the attending audience. Partner connection and musicality typically suffer in this outward oriented display. This amplifies the common misunderstanding of the essence of tango social dancing [The Essence of Tango Argentino; see also Understanding Argentine Tango (with the Assistance of Milongueros): It’s not just another Ballroom Dance]

Winning (or placing high in) the Tango de Pista competition in the Campeonato Mundial provides opportunities for these competitors to travel worldwide to teach tango workshops. This is indicated by the teaching tours of the 2016 champions Cristian Palomo & Melisa Sacchi (e.g., USA: Chicago, Costa Mesa CA, Hartford CT, Hyattsville MD, Mountain View CA, New York, Sacramento CA, San Francisco, Summit NJ, Wheaton MD), and the 2015 champions Jonathan Saavedra & Clarisa Aragon (e.g., Austria: Vienna; China: Shanghai; Germany: Braunsedra, Bremen, Irschenberg, Karlsruhe; Poland: Lodz, UK: London; USA: Austin TX, Pittsburgh. The credentials of winners of the Tango de Pista competition in the Campeonato Mundial are advertised in announcements of their workshops although, notably, they are often identified as winners in the Tango de Salon category, even though that label is no longer used.

Exhibitions given by Campeonato Mundial Tango de Pista competition winners at teaching venues provide further evidence that the boundaries of Tango de Salon are crossed repeatedly.

At the 2017 Tango Mini Tango Festival in Chicago Cristian Palomo & Melisa Sacchi danced to the tango ‘Loca’. This performance contains numerous transgressions against milonga dance codes. There are several high kicks (boleos and cuatros) (at 0:16, 0:27, 1:10, 1:36, 1:39, 2:13); there is also a colgada (1:36) a patada (2:13) and a pair of ganchos (2:13, 2:15). Although progression around the floor is mostly in the accepted counterclockwise direction, there is a blind backward movement (1:30 – 1:35) and a corrida (1:19 – 1:24) that, if practiced on the pista of the milonga, certainly would be navigational hazards. (In fact, most of the progression in the exhibition is too fast for the social dance floor.) In addition, the music selected has a tempo that is too fast for social dancing, much faster than the D’Arienzo version of ‘Loca’ [1946], played occasionally at milongas in Buenos Aires, which has a much slower tempo.

At the 2016 Tango Salon [sic] Festival in Lodz, Poland, Jonathan Saavedra & Clarisa Aragon danced to ‘Malandraca’ by Pugliese. This exhibition is replete with movements uncharacteristic of Tango de Salon, including numerous high kicks (0:20, 0:24, 0:40, 0:57, 1:01, 1:17 – 1:20, 1:55, 2:02, 2:04, 2:06, 2:14, 2:17, 2:18, 2:41), a gancho (1:57), blind backward movement (4 long steps) (0:25 – 0:26), and a rapid forward movement (1:27 – 1:36) that would present navigational hazards on the milonga dance floor.

It is clear that Campeonato Mundial Tango de Pista champions are inserting into their exhibitions movements that are not within the boundaries of the Tango de Salon danced in the milongas of Buenos Aires, either because they present navigational hazards or they attract attention from the audience, which is considered impolite within the context of a milonga [Do Milongas Exist outside Argentina? (The Milonga Codes Revisited)]. However, many festival and tango weekend attendees (as well as YouTube video observers) interpret the dancing in these exhibitions by winners of the Tango de Pista category in the Campeonato Mundial (implied by competition regulations to represent Tango de Salon) as an idealized version of social tango dancing to which one can aspire. Teaching in workshops associated with tango weekends and festivals may reinforce this misconception, to varying degrees depending on the instructors and the targeting of instructional material to the workshop attendees. {The impact of instructional content provided by traveling (mostly Argentine) instructors on tango students in general has been addressed previously [Factors Affecting the Survival of Argentine Tango Cultural Traditions in Non-supportive First World Cultural Environments (The Dominance of Tango Extranjero)] and will continue to be elaborated upon in future posts.}  The (intentional or unintentional) misrepresentation of Tango de Salon by instructors with the credentials of winning the Tango de Pista competition, either in exhibitions or in teaching, has an influence on social tango dancers. It results in tango students modeling their dancing after the Campeonato Mundial tango instructors, increasing further the discrepancy between the tango dancing evidenced at milongas around the world and the Tango de Salon of the milongas of Buenos Aires. Thus, Tango de Pista champions, rather than being representatives of Tango de Salon, are (unintentional or intentional) emissaries for a manner of dancing that can be disruptive to the decorum of the milonga dance floor.

Terminology: Tango Campeonato / Tango Dancesport

In 2013 the category of competition in the Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango called ‘Tango de Salon’ was renamed as ‘Tango de Pista’. It is not apparent why this change was made. In some ways, the change in nomenclature is insignificant, given that the pista (dance floor) is part of the salon (dance hall), where milongas are held. To some extent, to those not understanding the semantic near equivalency of the two terms, the name change to Tango de Pista may remove the direct mental association of dancing at the competition with tango dancing at the milongas (Tango de Salon), which is good. However, the label ‘Tango de Pista’, although normally not used as terminology by tangueros in Buenos Aires to refer to tango dancing at milongas, still implies that the style of dancing displayed in this Campeonato Mundial category characterizes tango social dancing at the milonga. The direct reference to social tango dancing in the regulations for this category reinforces this faulty perception.

In order to remove the weak association of Tango de Pista (in the competition) with Tango de Salon (at the milonga), hereafter in this blog the term ‘Tango Campeonato’, referencing directly the Campeonato Mundial de Baile de Tango, will be applied to this genre of competitive tango dancing. (The Tango Escenario division of competition at the Campeonato conveniently will be ignored in this nomenclature because of the high similarity and thus near equivalency of dancing in this competitive category to Stage Tango.) The direct English translation of Tango Campeonato is Championship Tango; however, the term ‘Tango Dancesport’ will be used henceforth in this blog as an English synonym because the Dancesport  terminology already exists for competitive ballroom dancing, which has similar conditions of competition, with the ‘tango’ modifier used here to identify specifically that the competition is limited to tango (argentino). (The ‘Argentine’ modifier is unnecessary because tango, by default of its origins, is Argentine and conveniently, Ballroom Tango has already been categorized as either American or International Tango.)

Tango Campeonato (Tango Dancesport) has its Niche

Tango Campeonato needs to be understood and appreciated for what it is, and not for what it is not. The dancers who reach the final rounds of the Campeonato Mundial have excellent dance technical skills and are moving in conjunction with the music. Dancing couples vie for attention from judges in order to receive a higher ranking in dance skills compared to other couples. The mental orientation of dancers is outward, with the intention of creating a visual impact. This accounts for the demonstration of a repertoire of difficult movements, performed with precision and speed (as permitted within the restrictions of the stated rules of acceptable dancing).

In some ways, Tango Campeonato resembles Tango de Salon. The contestants progress forward in a counterclockwise ronda without collision. Each couple maintains a partner hold with two hands throughout a dance, i.e., they do not separate (as one might do in Stage Tango or, to a lesser degree, in Tango Nuevo). The overwhelming majority of movements are drawn from the repertoire of Tango de Salon Estilo del Barrio. However, their relative frequency of selection is biased towards conspicuousness (e.g., in the excessive use of giros with sacadas, and in the overabundance of conspicuous embellishments) rather than navigational function, musical interpretation or emotional connection with one’s partner. In addition, in the Campeonato Mundial, the repertoire of permissible movements is expanded beyond Tango de Salon to allow ganchos, colgadas, patadas, wide calesitas and kicks above the knee. Overall, the magnitude and speed of movements make Tango Campeonato hazardous for even a moderately crowded social dance floor.

Tango Campeonato differs in form from Tango de Salon in subtle and not so subtle ways. There is some difference in the repertoire of movements, but more in the stylistic implementation of these movements. The reason is that Tango Campeonato is adapted for a different environmental niche – the competition dance floor. Just as Tango Escenario is designed for the stage, Tango Nuevo for the Practica Nueva, and Tango de Salon for the milonga (See Tango Styles, Genres and Individual Expression: Part I – A Rationale for Classification by Niche Adaptation), Tango Campeonato is designed for visual impact in competition in the Tango de Pista category of the Campeonato Mundial, in order to attract favorable attention from judges evaluating participating couples.

Tango Campeonato has its rightful place at the Campeonato Mundial and other tango competition events. Dancers in a competition can and should be admired for the skill levels they have attained. However, their manner of dancing is unsuitable for emulation on the milonga dance floor.

 

APPENDIX

During the course of composing this post, information on the criteria for evaluation of contestants in the 2017 Campeonato Metropolitano de Baile de Tango de Buenos Aires were removed from the website.  Fortunately, these were transcribed prior to removal and are listed below. These regulations are basically the same as the 2016 regulations, an English version of which is available.

DEL CERTAMEN (PARÁMETROS DE EVALUACIÓN)

  1. La pareja, una vez conformada, no deberá separarse mientras dure la música. Esto significa que no se podrá romper el abrazo.
  2. Para que la posición sea considerada correcta, el cuerpo de uno de los integrantes de la pareja debe estar contenido todo el tiempo por el abrazo, entendiéndose que –en determinadas figuras– esto puede ser elástico, pero no en toda la duración de la danza. Todos los movimientos deberán ser realizados dentro del espacio que permite el abrazo de la pareja.
  3. El Jurado tomará en cuenta el abrazo, la musicalidad, el estilo al caminar, la circulación por la pista,  la soltura y la personalidad y especialmente la rítmica en la milonga y el vals, como puntos fundamentales de la calificación.
  4. Dentro de estos parámetros de observación se podrán realizar todas las figuras que son de uso popular.
  5. Quedan completamente excluidos los ganchos, saltos, trepadas, trucos y cualquier otra posibilidad coreográfica propia del tango de escenario.
  6. Las parejas deberán trasladarse constantemente en el sentido contrario a las agujas del reloj, no pudiendo quedarse estacionadas en un mismo punto de la pista para no interferir la circulación de los otros bailarines.
  7. Para las distintas etapas de selección la vestimenta no forma parte de la evaluación del Jurado.
  8. El número de identificación de la competencia lo llevará quien ocupe el rol conductor.
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9 Responses to Tango Campeonato (Tango Dancesport): The Modification of Tango de Salon for Competition (A Specific Niche)

  1. jantango says:

    “It should be appreciated for what it is – skilled tango dancing on display, but not regarded as a model for tango dancing at a milonga.”
    I completely agree. They should call it Exhibition Tango since the winners go on to teach exhibition tango, not social tango.

    How can we expect the competition rules to reflect the codes in the milongas when those responsible for making them are not, and never have been, social dancers? One can’t write rules for a game one has never played. The committee in charge and rotation of judges for the city and world championships are teachers and/or stage performers of many years who have no other way of earning a living other than tango. Their history with tango allows them to dictate how tango is danced and taught around the world. Tango de Pista is not Tango de Salon — It’s tango de exhibicion. The championships are marketing exhibition tango which means more chaos on dance floors where people don’t know the difference.

    It sad to see the decline of good social dancing in the milonga of Buenos Aires. When foreigners study with the champions, all they learn is choreography for exhibition. It’s less dramatic than stage choreography, but still it’s not appropriate for social dancing.

    No one expected Nina and Oscar to win the world championships this year, but they won the city championship. It’s about time a couple over 80 be recognized. That was real tango. Oscar is 90. They were the only ones in the world finals over 50. Once again, the judges scores are fabricated for the audience and have nothing to do with the selection of the winning couple by a committee. It was obvious how happy the Japanese man was when presenting a lucrative contract in Japan to the tango stage winners who both live in Japan. He wants local dancers performing at his events in Japan. He didn’t travel all that distance to award the contract to locals. The championship has always been arranged from the start, and this year was no different.

    • tangovoice says:

      The makeup of the organizing committee and the selection of judges explains a lot about the character of the dancing in the Tango de Pista competition.

      The fact is, most of the world sees this dancing as Tango de Salon, and the impact on dancing in the milongas is readily apparent. The power of the Campeonato Mundial is that is backed by money and its outcomes are promulgated further by money. The tango entrepreneurs are preying upon the ignorance and weaknesses of the tango consuming public. Tango is not understood as a dance where a couple connects to each other emotionally, nourished by the music. Their relationship is to each other, not to the viewing audience. Due to Tango Campeonato, Tango Nuevo, and Tango Escenario, tango dancing has become a lucrative spectator sport.

      • R. Bononno says:

        Well, this is all kind of sad. By the way, Cristian Palomo & Melisa Sacchi were here performing recently. When I first saw a video of them, right after they won, I kind of liked it; they seemed to have a wonderful connection as a couple. But it’s clear from their live performance that they’re mostly interested in exhibition tango. It’s nothing one could use in the line of dance. Which, by the way, is a good criterion for judging someone giving lessons.

    • Chris says:

      Janis wrote “They should call it Exhibition Tango since the winners go on to teach exhibition tango, not social tango.

      That would be an improvement, but I think better still would be for them to call it Advertisement Tango .

      Because really it has no purpose other than for use in milongas during those ‘please clear the floor’ commercial breaks — to sell dance classes.

      Their history with tango allows them to dictate how tango is danced and taught around the world.

      Thankfully it isn’t working, but it’s probably best that we don’t tell them! 🙂

      • tangovoice says:

        Actually, it appears the Tango Establishment is succeeding quite well. One need only visit milongas around the world to see that Exhibition Tango, in its various forms, is rampant. Certainly it is not all of the dancers at all of the milongas (there are dancers who dance respectfully of other dancers, and there are beginners who are not trying to be ostentatious and just lack adequate floorcraft skills), but it is rare to find a milonga where there are no showoffs, reckless navigators, or traffic jam creators. It looks like the promoters of Exhibition Tango (Tango Campeonato, Tango Nuevo, Tango Escenario) have control of the pista. They have brainwashed the Tango Consumer class.

    • DJ Polaco says:

      It was obvious how happy the Japanese man was when presenting a lucrative contract in Japan to the tango stage winners who both live in Japan. He wants local dancers performing at his events in Japan. He didn’t travel all that distance to award the contract to locals. The championship has always been arranged from the start, and this year was no different.

      I see all of this as the consequence of state intervention. I’ve been watching the lectures from the Mises institute on Youtube. According to Austrian economics (the alternative to the currently applied big government Keynesian economics) any interference by the state has the effect of distorting the market and creating monopolies.

      From this point of view, the slow death of traditional tango is the consequence of the decision by the Argentine government to support the emergence of the tango industry in various ways such as: state funded dance education supplies movement-focused dancers who lack cultural knowledge, and presumed sponsorship and promotion of festivals, competitions and tango tourism.

      From an Austrian economic perspective all government actions have a tendency to create monopolies and wipe out the competition. Once the fake tango brand is established the alternative is eventually squeezed out.

      At the risk of sounding like a broken record, instead of looking at the horrors of tango marketing sponsored by the traditionally statist Argentine government that destroyed the Argentine economy and is now destroying tango, I suggest that people should start seriously creating a separate organisation that instead of focusing on movement is focused on cultural literacy related to tango.

      These days more and more educational organisations are using online tools like Youtube to provide alternatives to mainstream edu/indoctrination. I have found the information about music extremely useful but in the form on this blog it is unusable by novice learners. The critical posts are also useful but largely preaching to the choir, or to be rejected by the progressives. Critical analysis needs to lead to some constructive action.

  2. Chris says:

    Tango Voice (of North America) wrote: “It looks like the promoters of Exhibition Tango (Tango Campeonato, Tango Nuevo, Tango Escenario) have control of the pista. They have brainwashed the Tango Consumer class.

    I find they don’t have control of the pista, and that the only class of tango consumers they’ve brainwashed are tango class consumers.

    it is rare to find a milonga where there are no showoffs, reckless navigators, or traffic jam creators.

    May I recommend two UK milongas at which such persons are extremely rare?

    Leigh Milonga, Leigh-on-Sea.

    Milonga Pasional, Cambridge (occasional showoffs, but only in the commercial break)

    • DJ Polaco says:

      Chris wrote: I find they don’t have control of the pista, and that the only class of tango consumers they’ve brainwashed are tango class consumers.

      Obviously you are satisfied with your local tango scene. I just hope it lasts.

  3. DJ Polaco says:

    “Actually, it appears the Tango Establishment is succeeding quite well. One need only visit milongas around the world to see …”

    I concur with TangoVoice at least as far as the major cities in Asia and Oceania are concerned. We have some tango Champions teaching in Hong Kong. Although some of them are apparently ‘well-meaning’ and I’m told that they started teaching ‘close embrace’ and implore their students to use the cabeceo, none of this seems to have any effect.

    I have to say though that the more I talk to people and look at what they do they more I feel that it is the students who choose the champion teachers. From an economic point of view, people need a way of selecting a product. But since the population is culturally illiterate marketing will appeal to the lowest common denominator.

    The human brain has changed. Apart from the fact that relations between the sexes are destroyed so that people view each other instrumentally merely as a means of social climbing, the span of attention has been radically reduced. The economic ‘value’ of the tango product is social status, sensory stimulation, attention-seeking, exoticism and tourism.

    Recently I promoted an article from my blog on Facebook and in the course of a conversation at a milonga a woman mentioned that she saw my blog post but that it was “out of date” because it was in August. I was dumbfounded that my writing has such a short expiry date.

    Hard to believe as it is, we are living in a world of zombies who operate at the level of responding to simple marketing stimuli that tell them what they should do on the coming weekend. The zombies are bored and need some stimulation. Unfortunately, at some point the zombies are convinced that tango is a viable option, and some marketers who are probably also zombies provide this stimulation. (Well, actually the road is fairly obvious and it starts with jazz dancing classes for the female zombies, and where they go the male zombies, ‘zombie-like’, follow.)

    Went to a Chopin concert by a great pianist. Noticed two things: the relatively small concert hall was only two thirds full, and a lot of people were wearing shorts and t-shirts and carried a backpack. At least unlike in China, in HK they don’t talk check their social media during the concert, at least not in my viccinity.

    Culture is the product of education, and when there is a lack of culture this is because people are not educated, or rather, they are educated by mass government schooling that teaches them egalitarianism and postmodernism, and social media that teach them the ‘consumption of content’.

    Lewis’ The Abolition of Man really bears revisiting here:

    Lewis cites ancient thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle and Augustine, who believed that the purpose of education was to train children in “ordinate affections,” that is, to train them to like and dislike what they ought; to love the good and hate the bad. He says that although these values are universal, they do not develop automatically or inevitably in children (and so are not “natural” in that sense of the word), but must be taught through education. Those who lack them lack the specifically human element, the trunk that unites intellectual man with visceral (animal) man, and may be called “men without chests”.

    Unless education goes back to teaching the appreciation of higher cultural values and cultural literacy we’re all doomed to living in a culture of bread and circuses.

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