Nuevo means new in Spanish. Nuevo Tango or Tango Nuevo, the dance, followed the creation of Tango Nuevo Music. Astor Piazzolla was at the forefront of this development when he incorporated elements of jazz and classical music into traditional Argentinian Tango music.
When dancers tried to dance to Piazzolla's compositions such as Vuelvo al sur, the mood of the music inspired dancers to incorporate slower and larger moves. Or when dancing Piazzolla's Libertango - faster moves. Soon the name Tango Nuevo was given to this expression of Tango dancing. Tango Nuevo uses fundamental Tango concepts and adapts them to modern Tango music.
In order to dance Nuevo Tango it is necessary to know traditional Tango steps. Nuevo Tango then builds on traditional Tango steps. It does allow for steps and innovation that would otherwise be frowned upon in old style, traditional, and so-called golden age dancing.
Nuevo Tango has fast become the Tango of choice with younger Tango dancers - dancers who are not as bound by strict tradition, rules, and dos and don'ts as are older dancers.
Neo-Tango music - music to which one can dance Tango, but which is quire different from Tango music - such as the music of Gotan Project, Bajofondo Tango Club and and Carlos Libedinsky, have inspired further experimentation and innovation in Tango.
Some Tango dancers have gone one step further in their break with tradition. They have taken to dancing Tango to Latin, Night Club Two Step, Salsa and Swing music.
All of this has led to the creation of yet another category of Tango dancing: Neo-Tango. Neo-Tango dancers do not see themselves as anything but Tango dancers. They feel they are simply employing their Tango dancing skills - sprinkled with some innovation - to different kinds of music.
Of the different kinds of Tango, Neo-tango is the least formal and most accepting of innovation.
Tango Nuevo Background
Tango Nuevo as a dance discipline was reportedly the result of the "Tango Investigation Group" in the 1990s. The group later came to be known as Cosmotango. Key individuals in the development were Gustavo Naveira and Fabian Salas. They were joined by Pablo Veron and Chicho Frumboli.
Nuevo Tango or Tango Nuevo dancing came to the international scene with Sally Potter's 1997 movie - The Tango Lesson. The movie's included Piazzolla's music. In the movie, when Pablo Veron danced, he would open the embrace of the dance hold from time to time. His steps sometimes became longer. Direction changed frequently. A sacada - a leg thrust against the partner's leg - came unexpectedly. The dance effect was one of surprise rather than seduction. Gustavo Naveira and Fabian Salas also danced in The Tango Lesson.
Dance Embrace / Hold
The embrace in Nuevo Tango shifts frequently from open to close embrace, the open embrace allowing a greater range of patterns (even underarm turns), and the close embrace for parts of the music that are slow and romantic.
The dance hold and indeed the entire posture is relaxed, even more relaxed than with a Tango Milonga. However, the dancers are trained to be aware of the mechanics of each move and the axis of each turn - whether shared or with one of the dancers.
Characteristic Steps of Nuevo Tango Dance
The open embrace, changing frame, longer steps, Giros or turns, and frequent cambio de frentes or changes in direction,s are characteristic of Nuevo Tango.
Molinetes (circular grapevines), sacadas (leg thrusts), ganchos (hooks), boleos (sweeps), volcadas (pendulum-like swings of the leg) and colgadas (rotation on a shared axis) are all part of the Nuevo Tango repertoire. When the partners rotate around each other on a constantly shifting axis, novel changes of direction result. Many of these moves break the linear line-of-dance and develop a circular or shifting patterns. Long steps are also characteristic of Tango Nuevo.
Unlike traditional Tango which is almost always danced as a travelling dance, Nuevo Tango and Neo-Tango can be danced as either a travelling dance or a spot dance. Dancing in a dance hall provides the room for a travelling in open embrace while dancing on small, crowded floors might call for the dance to be danced in an elongated slot (as when dancing Swango).
The introduction of frequent giros (turns), cambio de frente (change of direction), sacadas, ganchos, and boleos to social dancing can create problems of movement on dance floors. As a result, some dance places such as Club Sunderland in Buenos Aires, discourage the use sacadas, ganchos, boleos and open embrace dancing. In these places, traditional walking steps (the caminada/caminar) and travelling ochos are preferred.
Dancing Nuevo Tango requires space. Indeed, it is more suited as a spot/circular dance with the travelling steps danced in an elongated slot. Practicas (practice dances) are the favoured place for dancing Tango Nuevo. Milongas (social dances) are better suited to traditional Tango or close-embrace Milonguero Tango, styles that use travelling steps that do not interrupt the line-of-dance. Milongas have evolved into semi-formal dances. Practicas (practice sessions) have in turn become informal dances where Tango Nuevo and some experimentation is acceptable.
In North America, these distinctions are poorly understood. Instructors teach Nuevo Tango sequences without informing students about the appropriateness of their use. The result is accidents and upset feelings on the dance floor.