Is competition good for tango?

With the UK Tango Festival & Championship Preliminaries coming up in London, I got to thinking about the small matter of whether ‘competition’ is good for tango…

One might argue the case that tango is competitive by its very nature. This is how it survives! I think of it this way:

The milonga is the arena for ‘tango’ competition. The basic fundamental structure of tango society is a caldron of social and political ‘competition’ incentivising and motivating dancers to strive to climb, to improve, to move in different circles and networks, to be recognised, to be respected, to make friends – the list goes on.

What is your personal reason to dance well? Why do you practise, take classes, discuss it, read about it, listen to its music over and over. Why do you try to be a good dancer?

Tango competitions or ‘meets’ have existed since the beginning of time. Historically the art of ‘dance’ is CELEBRATED competitively – dancers showing off their tricks and styles – everyone else cheering them on, admiring their antics and ideas. This is one of the reasons the earlier “Milongas” on the outskirts of Buenos Aires came to exist.

Come to think of it, this ‘phenomena’ exists all around the world in every kind of culture and society. Think of tribal corroborees.

Competition that champions tango – whether it be played out informally in the milonga – or at a ‘big milonga’ with ‘proper, reverent, ceremonial procedure’ – as a way to recognise and celebrate our dance – is one of the longest and most fundamental reasons for the evolution of tango. Or of ANY social tradition…

Competition – in the correct sense of the word – is good. Within yourself or within your society. It is really necessary for development, for progress.

If you don’t like it. Don’t compete. Don’t strive. Don’t cheer. Don’t take part.

It is really important though, that this one thing remains true: Tango is.. Free. To be whatever it is you want it to be for you personally. And in saying so, let each other do the same.

Story posted by: Rita Maree Horne

About the author: Social Dancer, Writer from Edinburgh

Published: 14 Apr 2015 @ 08:31

Last modified: 3 Apr 2019 @ 10:22

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