Anyone interested in exploring the history of tango will find Robert Farris Thompson’s book Tango: The Art History of Love a great place to start. Its roots clearly lie in African dance as well as in Europe. These twin influences seem particularly evident in that early form of the dance canyengue. It’s almost as if the lower half of the body — feet flat ‘into’ the floor, bottom out — directly acknowledges its African roots, while the upper halves are in the classic embrace of European partner dances.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to attend some classes in canyengue. To dance it occasionally is fun and enjoyable, as well as being an acknowledgement of tango’s precursors. Tango is a living, growing dance form, but is it not important to keep that connection to the past too?