Tango: the art history of love

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Pantheon Books, 2005 - Performing Arts - 360 pages
6 Reviews
Annotation When Cormac McCarthy writes that tango "contains within itself its own arrangement and history and finale" more often than not we imagine a cliche: tango as bittersweet, romantic (sentimental?) song played by a poignant bandoleon as inspiration for a European-derived dance dramatizing "Latin heat, the passion of the Latin lover", and all in white-face.Yet tango culture emerged from the 19th century encounter of Kongo choreography and the musical culture of immigrants from Italy and Spain around the docks of southern Buenos Aires, las orillas. Contra many a mystification, here are three highlights from the argument of this brilliant, iconoclastic book, in which Robert Farris Thompson focuses mainly on tango as dance as opposed to music and lyrics, and in which he relies heavily on the testimony of contemporary tangueros: -- Charged by the African-Hispanic presence in 19th century Argentina, the Kongo derived canyenge, argues Thompson, was the earliest form of the dance. As Afro-Argentines and their Euro-Argentine comrades departed from this form through ceaseless improvisation, they retained such core elements as: corte (sudden stop) and quebrada (a breaking pattern with a twist of the hips and a lowering of the body); -- In tracing the tradition from canyenge to contemporary tango de salon, Thompson not only rightly celebrates the achievements of the music's defining voice, the immigrant Carlos Gardel, and of its greatest composers -- children and grandchildren of Italian immigrants -- Pugliese, Troilo and Piazzolla: he shows how these figures interacted with black dance stylists, even as he considers the roles played by the superb black pianist/composer Horacio Salgan, thelate lyricist Celedonio Flores; -- While it is often imagined that women dancers of tango are simply there to follow, to be led, to be decorously subservient, Thompson shows that women often dance entirely independent seq.

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Review: Tango: The Art History of Love

User Review  - Amber - Goodreads

How am I reading a book that is doing such a thorough job tracking the roots of dance in South America through nuance and meaning to Africa and Europe BUT iS YET TO LOOK AT THE LOCAL INDIGENOUS ... Read full review

Review: Tango: The Art History of Love

User Review  - Marta - Goodreads

I skimmed this book but it was a great reference book if you'd like to know more about this topic. Robert Farris Thompson is always doing something interesting. Read full review


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About the author (2005)

Robert Farris Thompson is the author of, among other works, Black Gods and Kings and African Art in Motion. He has been a Ford Foundation Fellow and has mounted major exhibitions of African art at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. He is Col. John Trumbull Professor of the History of Art at Yale University, where he is also Master of Timothy Dwight College. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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