Various Tango Styles
The dance called tango is unique because it takes on so many forms. As serious as the dance is supposed to be, there does not seem to be one set style that is typically the tango. On the contrary, various tango styles exist. Dancers in Argentina, for example, add their own personal movements. The styles are further diversified by regions, and individual neighborhoods. And of course, the styles will vary depending on the competition that the dancers have entered. Unlike many other dances, the tango has several main styles that are globally recognized, and we will briefly outline each.
For dance competitions, the main styles are called Salon Tango (Tango de Salon) and Stage Tango (Tango Escenario). Competitions may include professionals and amateurs, depending on the specific contest. For competitions to be considered "official", they require a set number of contestants, and the winning couple is sent, on behalf of their country, to Argentina to compete in the Tango Buenos Aires Dance World Cup.
This form of tango is the most difficult and the most serious because the two partners are not permitted to break with one another at any time during the dance. Once the music begins, they must be embraced in some way, and remain so until the music ends, thus concluding the dance. There are times through the dance where the embrace is implied, as long as the arms are touching, but these times are generally brief, and usually while a particular stance is executed. As long as the couple is touching one another, they are permitted to use barridas (sweeps), sacadas al piso (close to the floor), enrosques (twists), but they are not allowed to perform ganchos (hooks), saltos (jumps) and trepadas (climbs). All of these movements are called figures.
Also, the feet may not be lifted above the knee line, and this rule is eagerly enforced. Lastly, couples must continually move about in a counterclockwise fashion, and will be penalized or disqualified for staying in one place for more than two musical measures. The couple should appear elegant throughout the dance, and strides should conform to the rhythm of the music. Walking style is an important feature of the grading system. Salon tango is considered to be the closest to the traditional tango dance.
This form of tango is less strict, and allows the performance of figures not permitted in the execution of the salon tango. In fact, the couple is even permitted to break the traditional embrace, as long as the move is considered worthy of the dance. Of course, the judges must agree on this point. Stage tango is more of an exhibition, and uses fancy choreography. It is typically a routine that would be used in a live show on stage. The interpretation of the dance is based more on personalities and the roles of the dancers.
Other forms of tango or various tango styles known around the world that one might see or learn include Ballroom Tango, Canyengue, Orillero, Candodombe, Nuevo, Fantasia, Organic, Milonguero, Villa Urquiza, Liquid, Finnish, French Apache, and Arrabalero. Lastly, most of these styles generally come under one of the three headings called Argentine Tango, North American Tango, and International Tango.