Charles Durang describes the Tango, “originally a South American dance,” in 1856

Charles Durang, described by Wikipedia (without citation) as “the first native-born American professional dancer” published his seminal book on social ballroom dances in 1856.  It was entitled The Fashionable Dancer’s Casket or the Ballroom Instructor and was described on its title page as “A New and Splendid Work on Dancing, Deportment, and the Toilet.”

Mr. Durang discusses the tango on pages 151-3.  According to Mr. Durang, “[t]he Tango was originally a South American dance composed in two-fourth time.  Arranged for the ballroom by M. Markowski.” (p. 151)  The relevant pages can be found at the Library of Congress and have been replicated below:

Richard Powers, an instructor and dance historian at Stanford University, has analyzed the 1856 tango in depth.  Mr. Powers’ analysis of the text, and written notes for his related 1856 tango choreography, which he describes as “more of an interpretation than a reconstruction,” can be viewed here.  Several versions of the finished product has been made available on youtube.  The following video featuring Mr. Powers’ choreography was taken at an event in San Diego.

In his discussion of the 1856 tango, Mr. Powers references Anna Pavlova’s related “Pavlowana.”  A magazine page describing Ms. Pavlova’s Pavlowana, likely from 1915, has been made available for viewing by the University of Minnesota’s Media Archive.

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