Odgers T. Gurnee Teaches the Tango, Including the Corde/Cortez, Several Dips, Sweeps, Flirtation, Innovation Tango and “Three in One”

The Mt. Sterling Advocate published the following article on August 19, 1914, describing elements of the tango and how best to execute them.  Supplementing the usual dance instruction, Mr. Odgers T. Gurnee provided some additional, unique insights.

Mr. Gurnee mentions something called the Three in One, which he describes as “a Combination of the waltz, trot and tango,” with “the dancers doing a few steps from each dance, changing with the tempo of the music.”  Mr. Gurnee dedicated only a few lines to the concept of the Three in One, perhaps assuming the dancer would bring his or her own knowledge of other dances to bear in its execution.

He shared this observation regarding how best to maintain public interest in a particular dance form:

“By the introduction of a new tempo occasionally the public interest is kept at a high pitch, and some one is always learning a new step. For instance, the tango arrived just in time to save the jaded turkey trot, the Maxixe did the same for the tango, and now an attractive new rhythm in (?) waltz motif is the seven-quarter time of our new dance – the moderation. This is the perfect combination of tango and Viennese waltz and lends itself splendidly to ballroom usage.”

He offered no elaboration in this article on his new seven-quarter time dance form.

Possibly Mr. Gurnee’s most fascinating perspective, however, regards his theories on the relationship between astronomy and dance crazes.  He suggested this relationship between dance crazes and the cosmos:

“Astronomers say that the tango will last till 1924. Which does not mean that the archbishop of New York, the Kaiser of Berlin or the Duchess of Norfolk in London will not triumph in their views upon the subject.”

“Everybody knows that sun spots regulate dancing, and as it is a critical period of solar activity none may hope – and few would desire – to keep folks from being charmed by rhythmic movement.”

“Which leads to the fact that there is a time to dance and a time to tire of dancing. The sun’s periods of eleven years, its maximums of thirty-three years and grand maximum of once a century correspond perfectly to the waltz of 1812, the gallop of 1824 (which also ushered in the schottische), the mazurka of 1836, the polka of 1845, the quadrille of 1852, the lancers of 1861, the cancan of 1869, the pas de quatre of 1882, the Boston of 1893, the cakewalk of 1902 and the tango of 1913.”

To sum up: Through his platform with the Mt. Sterling Advocate, Mr. Gurnee provides the reader with a number of characteristic and standard tango steps, a series of staged photographs, including one of Joan Sawyer and partner, and another of Mr. and Mrs. Rowley Downs, brief mentions of the Moderation, Innovation, and the Three in One, and postulates as to the relationship between dancing and the stars.  All in all, a thorough affair.

The Mt. Sterling advocate., August 19, 1914, Image 8

The Mt. Sterling advocate., August 19, 1914, Image 8

This article was provided by Chronicling America.  Sadly, I couldn’t quickly find a picture of Mr. Gurnee to accompany this post.

Note: This one sheet appears to be a consolidation of a number of smaller posts on the tango.  For example, Mr. Gurnee’s “How to Dance the Tango, No.1” and section on Innovation appeared in The Madisonian on June 16, 1914.

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One thought

  1. “Everybody knows that sun spots regulate dancing, and as it is a critical period of solar activity none may hope – and few would desire – to keep folks from being charmed by rhythmic movement.” I’ll have to remember this the next time I’m at a milonga and invited to dance…”Excuse me, are there sun spots today, if not, then I shan’t dance.” love it

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