One hundred years ago

After examining the subject of the Tango from many standpoints, I have come to two conclusions: one, that  it is not, as I have endeavored to show, really difficult  for an amateur dancer to learn; two, that it has qualities which display vitality to a very promising degree. It is likely to be alive as long as the waltz in this country, a  fact which means that its longevity is assured. It may  be a little fantastic, possibly somewhat bizarre, but it  has underlying features which cannot be ignored by anyone  considering the dance. For example, who can dispute  the value of a dance which requires only slow, if graceful, movements? The hallmark of genius belongs to the  people who started the Tango “snowball ” in its course  round the world. For they knew what the world wanted,  what it was waiting for. I have seen two couples dance  the Tango comfortably on a space only twice the size of a dinner-table.

. . . .

This result we find expressed in a  sequel, and the sequel is the Tango interest of to-day.  I have watched the dances of every professional dancer  of international repute, and the more I see of the Argentinos  the more I become impressed with their work. They seem  spontaneous, yet methodical. They achieve motions and movements calculated to win applause from the unknowing  as well as from the cognoscenti. In a word, this dance has  an appeal which is felt by everyone who has seen it properly  expressed. I will not say that indifferent and inebriated  performers are likely to arouse interest, but where intelligence and skill are embodied in the work, in exhibition work,  there can only be one outcome — general approval. The bad Tango dancers will extinguish themselves; they will not extinguish the Tango.

. . . .

As matters stand, or, rather, as we  may assume they now stand, anyone who has the slightest  aptitude for dancing can master a good expression of the  Tango. It lies, as I have said, as I say again, well within  the reach of every dancer. Perhaps, and this may appear a bold suggestion, some people may be found to dance the
Tango who dance nothing else!  The suggestion may seem  absurd; but, whatever one dances, one must begin with  some dance, so why not the Tango?

Secrets of the tango by Samuel Beach Chester (London 1914)


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