The difference between Nuevo Tango and Neo Tango

Igor Polk, 2005 October 22

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Neo Tango at the Portland Tango Fest 2005;

11 Tango styles;

Nuevo other tango;


2010, January 8

Oh-oh ! I have to re-write this article. Generally speaking, these are good observations, but the general line of the story should be changed. I have some new views of specific technical and stylish elements of these styles. For example, I consider now that many of these elements especially for Neo are not elements, but plain dancing mistakes. As for Nuevo, I more and more believe that there is no Nuevo. It is the same old, great tango as it was danced 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 150 years ago... Orillero style. Open embrace, ganchos, boleos, and all that staff which is as old as tango. And there is no Neo. Modern Neo = Salon style ( almost :) ) .

Nuevo is Orillero, Neo is Salon

So, here is the article ( to be re-written ..). That is what I thought 5 years ago.


-- How do you define "neo tango"? Specifically, what is the difference between Nuevo and Neo?

I believe this is an important question nowadays.

1. Tango nuevo is better to dance to tango music of 50-60 like later Pugliese.
Neo Tango is danced to non-tango music. Alternative so to speak. Pop, new age, eastern. Suitable.

2. Tango Nuevo is danced in regular tango cloth. Neo Tango  - in super-modern baggy pants. It makes a lot of difference in dancing attitude. It is quite impossible to imagine a woman in stockings doing this.

3. Characteristic of Nuevo is long steps. Sort of flying. A lot of ganchos, sacadas, boleos. Circular dance, but pretty different from salon tango.
Main characteristic of Neo is separation. Elastic embraces which are often broken. Rotation around one's axis without touching a partner or one hand handling only. This does not exists in Nuevo. Extending an embracing arm. Ganchos, boleos are to extreme. Looks like fighting in a fast dance. Men's ganchos are really like martial arts kicks with bodies tilted from being vertical to a side, back, or front [2010 - Orillero]. Women do the same! It is totally absent from Nuevo. Waving movements of bodies. Hops[2010 - Orillero]. Men put their legs up around a lady [2010 - as old as tango], for example in a back sacada.

4. There is no Neo close embrace. Instead they prefer to dance slow open. In Neo slow dance - a lot of strange movements non-existing in Nuevo. As if they try to probe a partner - to watch the reaction, to find a weak point... If they go into close embrace - it looks like Nuevo close embrace.

5. Neo positions are exactly like martial arts positions[2010 - that is a mistake] - ready for a kick - soft bent legs holding the floor, relaxed bodies ready to react swiftly, watching eyes gazing inside the partner. Just a little bit more, and we will see actual kicks and blocks here. No wonder, martial art partnering is called "a dance". Neo is Capoeira ( 1, 2, 3 ) of Tango.

6. [Deleted]

7. Neo originated from Nuevo. There are some little things in Nuevo which differentiate it from other tango which are developed to extreme in Neo. However the difference between them is sharp. Nuevo is still tango, while Neo is not. Neo Tango is totally new dance: Neos are not able to dance Argentine Tango, they prefer different music, they do not mix with other dancers, they keep their own community. [ 2010 - of course, tango can be danced only to tango music. Anyone learning tango to non-tango, is not dancing tango no matter how hard they try. It is all in the music ! Anyone who learned tango to tango music can dance tango to any music, because Tango plays in their head on top of the rhythms they hear. ]

8. And attitude. Ask Neo dancers - they all will tell that they dance nothing else but Argentine Tango. But this is not the same dance. This is a new dance and new community developing. They are not interested at all in older tango [2010 - pity for them ! "Older" tango is incredibly reach and interesting ]

They say they are contemporary. They say that they progress tango forward. I think these are just empty confusing words. Except of a handful of Neo community leaders ( and not all of them ) these dancers do not have correct ideas what Argentine Tango is. They do not have a point to base the comparison. Well, they really could not care less. Me too. I will happily dance Neo as a fancy variation from Tango, and then come back to familiar lands relaxing [ 2010 - Exactly !].

That is what typical young talented man from Neo community on his way in tango would say: "I listen to old music more and more and like it more and more, I can hear much more good stuff, I came to conclusion that I like it all! ". Well, I am happy about it! But that happens only if he makes an effort to listen, to learn.

One young man once he got introduction to Canyengue ( it is considered a very old style of tango, hmm..  ) said: "That is what I always wanted, that is mine! It fits me so well, I am crazy about it! ". Yes, that is what happens once the power of knowledge approaches you: insight! A recognition of your own power and abilities! Discovery of new worlds! There are many entities in life who would love you to know less. You should be aware of that.

9. And one last but not least difference. Nuevo still comes from Argentina. Neo, to the best of my knowledge - from USA and Europe.

* * *
August 22, 2006

C: If nuevo just means 'something we haven't seen before' then it is not a
very useful name, since it is subjective - someone who has seen that
thing before cannot accurately name it nuevo.

Igor: No, Nuevo style is characterized with very long powerful steps, mostly rotational movements, plenty of boleos and ganchos and changes of direction ( since they came out of rotational movements ), neglection of posture, footwork, subtlety in feeling, special legs positions ( crossed legs for men - very tango in other styles), nice look, corte and quebrada - that is totally foreign to them ( only for photos ), they practically do not make linear movements and do not stop. And of course they look like Chicho ( even if he puts a suit on ). Oh, music: Tango music of 60-90. Piazzolla, later Pugliese.

C: What is your definition of Neo?

Igor: Neo style is characterized with shorter steps, striking difference is women's movement. While in Nuevo she generally acts like a man - long powerful movements, in Neo she is more like a snake. Typical Neo woman - very slim, long legged, to make all that infinite leg rotations around her: boleos, colgadas, volcadas of all sizes and shapes. She is a ballet dancer! A woman in that Chicho's video is a Neo woman. Little of ganchos. Music: non-tango is better for those moves than any tango written before: narcotic subdiction to music and hypnotizing rhythm. Baggy pants for men - are a must. Neo is a product of time when break dancing is around. Break dancer - that is an ideal look of a Neo Tango man. While in Nuevo there are a lot of Molinetes - that is the basic figure of that style, in Neo they are practically absent.

What I describe is crystallization of pure styles. Many performers mix style in their dances, for example Nick Jones and Tara are very interesting and talented example of mix of Neo and classical style ( because they know both, especially her ).

Igor> It is possible to dance any elements in any style.

C: Colgadas in Canyengue style? I think not.

Igor: Well, may be not, since Canyengue is danced with a lean forward, and that is the key of the style, but I could think about something to the side. [2010 - no problem ! But are you open to see Colgadas done in Canyengue style? ]

* * *

Igor> Men in salon style must ideally look like salon men - in suites,
> vertical, self confident, grand, with great self-esteem, say, like a
> king would dance it. Women too.

C: Men in salon style of the decades in which men had to look like that did
ideally have to look like that. But that's a sign of the times, not of
the style.

Igor: I am talking about feeling which is reflected in how the body looks during the dance.

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My name is Igor Polk. I dance Argentine tango in San Francisco.

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