What is Tango Orillero

Igor Polk, March 8, 2007

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In my video links page there are more examples of Tango Orillero.


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So, the question is: "What is Tango Orillero?". What would I say from a dancer's point of view?

Orillero is an Argentine Tango style. As soon as you start to dance with D'Arienzo, playful, sharp, with jumps, kicks, ganchos, crazy twists it becomes Orillero. What else? Refine it from the "bad street influence" and it becomes Salon. Pepper Salon with the street influence, and it becomes Orillero. This is that easy.

Orillero is everywhere ! Since it is jumpy and flashy and spectacular it became an obvious candidate to use in shows. So nowadays many confuse Orillero with Show dancing. So once they see Orillero, they just say, "Oh, it is just show..." ( with negative connotation. Why? )
Of course not all shows are in Orillero. But Orillero always looks showy. That is what it is!

Many musicians recorded music in Orillero style.

What is the difference between Orillero and Canyengue. Canyengue is a close embrace dance, while Orillero is mostly done in open embrace. Canyengue music and dancing style is different. It is more smooth, minor. While legs may make fast and crazy things in Canyengue, the body feels as if it levitates above the floor. No wonder, it is danced in Apilado position.

There are people who might not agree with me regarding Orillero, but does it make sense to argue about? Consider it a convenient name for the sharp, street style of tango dancing as contrary to smooth Salon.

What about relation of Orillero and Nuevo. While some other researchers consider styles from historical position, I consider them purely from the dancing style difference. In this way, even if there is no direct ancestry between Nuevo and Orillero, there is a vivid connection between them since Nuevo is more energetic than Salon, uses much more flashy and sharp figures like ganchos, sacadas, and boleos. On the contrary, as a difference, still it uses much less of the old "Ric-Tic-Tic" rhythms, and still much smoother. It tend to be as smooth as Salon. Cortes and quebradas, traspies are not used in Nuevo, while they should be abundant in Orillero.

As you have noticed, I differentiate between Salon of 50s, and Salon of 20s. While Salon of 20s is purified and directly counterposed to Orillero, Salon of 50s might borrow a lot from show dancing. And as I mentioned above, show dancing was based on Orillero. It means many elements and feel of Salon 50s Argentine Tango style originated from Orillero !

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If you want to know more about difference between Salon and Orillero, consider finding Juan Bruno's tape form the Trenner's catalog ( V302 )  where he taught salon of 20s and orillero style in contrast to each other. They do not have it any more... They do not have anything about Orillero. This was one of the very best tapes in their collection. Now the collection greatly expanded... but without Juan Bruno...

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It is difficult to find a video clearly marked Orillero, since this style has very little attention now. Even less than Canyengue. Here is the video where dancers dance in Orillero style. It has a good feel of Orillero, but very very few figures. Orillero is incredibly rich with figures. Woman's ganchos too! No wonder, it is the cornerstone of the Tango dance, the mother which fed all other styles. It is Pure Tango !

Paradox of Orillero, why this name can not be found often is that for practitioners of this way of Tango dance it is not a special style to keep distance from something else. It IS Tango. Many very prominent names as well as simple dancers in Tango world are dancing like that and not paying slightest attention to distinguishing their dancing by a special term. However, for some reason, this way of tango has not found addictive and entrepreneurial followers in other countries. May be it is TOO Argentinean. May be the whole way of life and personal problems of a modern western person rejects this dance: too free, too flamboyant, too exotic, too earthy, too risky. One has to have Argentinean sun, wine and meat in unlimited quantities, time and mind free from problems to step out on the dance floor and proudly say: I am a man, I am a woman, we are happy, we are who we are, and our spirit dances !

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If you look at Tango in 1914 you will see that Orillero and close embrace were already present in America at the time when Open Salon style was arriving.

* * * Examples

Great Virulazo and performers. Tango Orillero.

Pablo Veron and Victoria Vieyra dancing in Orillero style.

* * * Discussion

From Bruno Romero, www.milonga.org :

Comments on the orillero style:

The label "orillero" comes from neighborhoods established in the shorelines in Montevideo and Buenos Aires. The terms "compadrito" and "orillero" appear to be related in Buenos Aires, but not necessarily in Montevideo. In Buenos Aires, the dance was labeled as spectacular ("aparatosa" in spanish) by historians such as Oscar Natale.
>From "Justicia Criolla" (A play performed at the theater El Olimpo in 1897). Benito, a black compadrito, recalls his dance with a white porteña, and describes it to a guitar player character in the play: "I brought Juanita, the white porteña, close to my hip. her face rested on my chest. We began the dance following the rhythm of the music until we performed a turn, which ended in a Quebrada". Benito goes off the script describing his feelings, and highlighting his seduction skills when dancing with the white porteña. In another part of the play Benito goes off to dance with Juanita again. In this play, Benito is played by the Spanish actor named "Gil".
Observations from Ricardo Guiraldes from early 1900's: The compadritos' dance, where the man walks lifting the foot as if pulling nails off the floor when wearing high-heel boots.
>From "Vida Nacional" (A theater play performed in 1897), where an orillero character sings: I am a tango compadre (hipster tango) -- that with a lot of cross step(corte) the waist becomes stretched -- with a soft touch, slow turn, and in the knee the woman shakes with mastery.
>From the above terms related to orillero dance style:
Close to the hip dance;
Foot lift;

Mel :

Hi, There was a video in Danniel Trenner's catalogue: 'The Orillero Tango of Victor and Norma'. An elderly, but lively, couple demonstrate this style that they dance. Its lively, bouncy etc, I really don't remember it that well. I haven't looked at Trenner's catalogue for a few years now, so I don't know if its still available.
Bye, Mel.

2008, June 23

"Tango Orillero not necessary should be danced with jumps to the ceiling. It has very simple stylistic features. Every one can do it and enjoy it with Orillero music which is abundant at your milongas. Yes ! There are dancers in San Francisco who dance in this style for years. " Igor Polk.

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