The tango was born in the impoverished port areas from a combination of Argentine Milonga, Spanish-Cuban Habanera, and Uruguayan Candombe © Pixabay

Can you do the tango?
A dance invented 144 years ago that is still in vogue. We talked to Gabriel Soria, President of the National Academy of Tango
1 Jun 2024

Whenever someone mentions Argentina while abroad, one of the immediate associations with the country is tango – a cultural movement that, with several decades behind it, is an excellent ambassador that attracts different generations wanting to learn it.

Perhaps Argentinean poetry is not as well known due to the simple limitation of language, but its music and dance have been and still are the reason many foreigners justify buying a plane ticket, taking lessons, buying shoes, going to the milongas, meeting the connoisseurs, going to the concerts and returning home with a belly full of anecdotes.

Having had the chance to exchange a few words with Gabriel Soria, President of the Academia Nacional del Tango, Member Titular of the Academia Porteña del Lunfardo, and Director of the Museo de la Casa Carlos Gardel, has allowed us to provide the latest on all that is happening under the umbrella of this beautiful movement.

As an expert, how would you summarize tango to someone who has never heard of it?

Tango is an art composed of music, song, dance and poetry. It was born in the Rio de la Plata, with two main urban centers: Buenos Aires and Montevideo. The protagonists of tango were the creators, but it would not have remained timeless without the public and the people who transformed this popular art into a culture of its own.

Why do you think that poetry, music and dance are so popular abroad and not so much in Argentina?

If popularity is measured by tours, activities and performances, it is possible that abroad, the work of artists is better developed and even more economically valued. In Argentina, the art of tango is developed every day and all over the country. Of course, there is a lack of space and diffusion for the genre, but this does not mean that it is not still a truly popular art. 

If you look at the map of tango in Buenos Aires today, you will see its presence and permanence.

Gabriel Soria, President of the
National Academy of Tango of Argentina © National Academy of Tango

The world has witnessed the evolution of tango through its electronic version. Where does it go now, towards a new evolved version or back to its origins?

Tango always follows the path of evolution, even if it sometimes returns to its origins to find future variants. Tango has experienced many variations, as much in the twentieth century as in this one. From the symphonic experiences, to its adaptation to other types of music such as jazz.

In 2024, which musician and record would you suggest to listen to and why?

It is very difficult to choose a single group or artist because it would be unfair to all the others. Personally, I listen to most of the current suggestions. Today there are many excellent musicians and performers with very different styles, from the traditional to the most modern.

What is your favorite type of tango and why?

As a collector of the genre, I am always surprised by the decades of the twenties, thirties and forties. These years are often considered as the traditional tango era, but in fact they are an era of great richness in both the musical and poetic sense. They are very different from each other as they mark an ongoing evolution that still continues to this day. One example of this is the Aníbal Troilo Orchestra. 

* Julián Ginzo is a member of the Editorial Board of UN Today.
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