I am now going to express myself as clearly as possible on the topic of Traditional and Nuevo Tango. I don’t expect us – or even some of us –  to agree, but whatever the outcome, nothing will change in our lives.

Tango has grown in the past 15 years in a way that has changed some people’s lives forever, it has touched people’s hearts and expression all over the globe. They have found something to practice, think of or just enjoy. We are blessed.  I don’t know exactly when it happened but somewhere in the last decade these tangonistas have had to faced with deciding between Traditional and Nuevo Tango.

As far as I can remember, when I started dancing in 1998 and knowing nothing about the dance except for the image I had in my mind of old folks embracing and walking to Tango music.  Of course I knew what Tango was, but the only reference I had was Carlos Gardel, the tango Mi Buenos Aires Querido, Astor Piazzolla, Hugo del Carril, Juan Carlos Copes  and Grandes Valores de Tango (a TV show where all the Tango singers used to perform but rarely Tango dance).  Some of the Dancers and Masters of today did work in that show as dancers on a Stage behind a huge orchestra.  Because of that image, I knew that elegance and precision were an important ingredient in this dance. I took my first class and never stopped.  Later that night I discovered Vals and Milonga.

Back then there weren’t as many Milongas or Tango Dinner Shows as there are now.  There weren’t as many teachers or schools.  The teaching process was not as developed as it is nowadays.  Every teacher had his own approach.  Tango shoes were ugly.  Not everyone had the vision  to see the effect Tango would have on the world.

By the time I started to discover this world, I met different mentors, I knew who Miguel and Osvaldo Zotto were, Roberto Herrera, Carlos Gavito, Carlos Copello, Graciela Gonzalez,  Mora Godoy, Milena Plebs, Ricky Barrios, Luis Solanas, Horacio Godoy, Fabian Salas and Gustavo Naveira. Everyone gave me a different exposure to this dance, this was my path, with some I took lessons, with others I became friends and with others they were just acquaintances.

If you search Wikipedia, it names Gustavo Naveira, Fabian Salas, and Pablo Veron as the fathers of the Tango Nuevo movement.

I think Tango Nuevo became a style in itself without pretending to be one.  Naveira clearly states he did not invent anything, everything was there, the exposure of the moves and the approach of the teaching became different. I agree 100% in one aspect of this statement, but I would like to expand this analysis as well.

Back in 1998 attending a Tango lesson with Gustavo was a mind-opening experience for everyone, not because of what he was teaching but for the way he broke down and analyzed the structure of the dance. Back then it blew everyone minds. The steps were exposed as elements, boleo as an element, gancho as well.  Breaking down the steps into Open and Crossed ones was such a discovery for me back then..

Meanwhile, in other parts of BA, like at Sunderland on Wednesdays, the approach was different, let’s walk and walk and walk.  Develop your axis, your body language, your elegance and more walking.

The Tango Nuevo approach opened its exponents to 1000s of possibilities in the dance because those elements were available, visually understandable, you understood what a sacada was and the 1000 possibilities to perform them. But it had a little cost. Those who did not start dancing with Gustavo or others in his line and were exposed to the more traditional way of seeing the dance, achieving some moves or combinations had to sacrifice their elegance, walk, the embrace. IN THE BEGINNING! Opening the embrace in order to perform a back sacada, are you nuts!  Many felt this way.

What I observed along the years is that people who start dancing Tango and are exposed to the Nuevo approach (seeing the dance as a combination of elements) is that the body language of the dance to be developed becomes a second or third goal in terms of what is important. The mistake is to say that is not Tango. Because with this approach, without training the body, a self and under the radar style flourishes and ends up becoming a common natural move. A move that is adopted by the mass, example Volcada.

The Volcada as we know it is not a new move at all, it was done by milongueros before it became hot in the US in 2005 for example. The problem with the Volcada, is that it became an isolated must-have move for those who started dancing Tango by this time in 2005.  Maybe they were not able to walk straight, but they knew how to do 75 volcadas on the dance floor. Many assumed that was Tango, because there was an immediate satisfaction provoked by this move. SAD!

What touches your expression Is always a question of sensibility.  My approach was always a more conservative, traditional one, but if I hadn’t opened my sensibility to be affected by other influences my dance would have died.

I walk the way I do, because I was exposed to that, my hard drive was filed with this information. This information is the sensibility that captured my expression and matched the image of what Tango meant to me and the way it should be danced, my own expression.

The traditional approach was different, you learned different combinations from different teachers.  Of course you had a knowledge about what a basic step was or an ocho, or turn.  Gustavo Naveira, Pablo Veron, even Chicho come from this root, the traditional root, you see it in their dance, there is a solid background of traditional Tango.