Argentine Tango versus Contact Improvisation


imageFundamentally tango and contact use a lot of the same skills,  and can support one another in the mechanics of connection.

But as a practice they are different and this difference is substantive and should inform dancers’ choices.

Tango has a Mark and a Revel.  The agreement is that the Revel will not interpret; she will reveal and illuminate HIS creativity.

In contact improvisation,  the partners are simultaneously and constantly interpreting.  There are no roles or differentiated responsibilities. There is no intended interpretation,  only a constant contact in the present and openness to the future.

The clothing and environment of contact are designed to accommodate constant changes of direction,  and the dancers,  who eschew shoes, are prepared for chance encounters.

Tango safety relies upon lanes and lines of dance,  and further upon the navigation and authority of the Mark who protects his partner and respects the other couples.  A revel who adds her own interpretation is dangerous and disruptive.

Both dances are fine,  and appeal to different people.  Women who cannot find interest in revealing a Mark’s creativity should stick with contact,  or Mark tango.

Contact dancers who want more structure might like tango.


Silences in history. Silences by code. Silences of fear. You already know that Tango’s silences can be sublime and they can be devastating.

What I do in my blog is use myself as a lens – sometimes a microscope, sometimes a telescope. I try to be as honest with myself and you as words concede. Then I try to find a deeper meaning and imagine a pathway for us.

A blog post can be a fragment, a wisp of inspiration, an outline for thinking. A book must complete and reconcile it all. Now I drag the social scientist to the scene to enumerate the facts of the case, the mystery which brought both stardom and tragedy to my life.

I invite you to join my resolution to take a look at the dark silences of Argentine Tango in our lives. It’s time.


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