Is Tango Dancing a Sport or an Art Form?
We typically think of sports as rather demanding, and even aggressive. Tango is indeed demanding, as the very nature of the traditional dance requires that the couple remain embraced throughout the duration of the dance, all the while completing various movements or figures, as they are officially called. But, unlike sports, where the focus is on aggression, the tango is intimate, an expression between the two partners. And while we concede that the tango was originally a story about winning the love or affections of another person, winning a football game just does not seem to be in the same league as winning a wife or lover through tango. So, when people ask, "Is tango dancing a sport or an art form?, we prefer to refer to it as an art form, a beautifully orchestrated play between a man and woman.
Moreover, when hobby groups advertise their weekly lessons, they tend to offer tango as a social activity. It is a place where people not only go to learn the dance steps, but also, to meet new people, and get away from their obligations. True, joining a recreational sports team is also rewarding when trying to unwind and meet new friends, but there are still major differences between tango dancing and sports. One of those differences is the fact that sports follow specific rules and plays. Football teams, for example, have play books. Individual players conform to the plays for the good of the team. In tango, on the other hand, couples do have the opportunity to do their own thing. Unless they enter a competition with specific rules, they are free to add their own movements to the dance.
Further, tango was originally about a man attracting a woman. Sports are not about attracting anyone. Sports are about defeating the opponent, and sometimes at any costs. Contrarily, tango dancing is about concessions, performing to please someone else. Couples that have danced together for long periods tell a story when they tango. The audience can feel the intensity of their emotions. The spectators should be able to read the story just by watching their movements. And, this really is an art form. Two silhouettes, beautifully connected. Tango is not just about winning, and it is not just about the skills used to win. Tango dancing includes music, poetry and art. All components work together in harmony.
Like college sports, tango requires stamina and endurance. But, where sports can be intentionally violent, accidents are not encouraged in tango. In fact, instructors go to great lengths to not only teach the fine art of the dance, but also, to teach the etiquette, which includes moving forward not backwards, not stepping on other people's feet with high heel spikes, not crashing into moving couples, not crossing lanes while dancing, and keeping strong without injuring anyone.
Finally, tango dancing is elegant and refined. Some sports like golf or tennis may be fall into this category, but for the most part, sports cannot be defined as graceful. Most sports are loud and full of commotion. Tango is done with little to no talking. The music should be the only noise the audience hears.