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Dance in Argentina

As part of Latin American culture, Argentineans regard dancing as a primordial activity of social/casual settings as well as a formal way of art. First and foremost, tango is the rhythm to which Argentineans are known to step in, however on a daily basis and for the majority of the population, dancing involves rhythms of cumbia, salsa, and rock.

Synthesizer keyboards, trumpets and electronic sounds characterized the Argentine cumbia, blasting in bailantas – dance clubs with live music – all over the country. Though the trend of cumbia did not hit Argentina until the 90s, several bands of the genre have emerged since and become widely popular throughout the continent. Salsa, on the other hand, remains a known classic of Hispanic culture but of no particular emphasis in Argentina.

The heavy European influence on Argentina in the arts has made of this country a major cultural center in South America, with theater, dance, ballet and cinema well developed. All major cities have impressive theaters and opera houses, but the jewel of venues sits in Buenos Aires. Colón Theater is one of the best in the world, and the second one of the same name to be built in the cosmopolitan city. After 20 years of construction, the venue of over 2,400 seats opened in 1908 in the heard of the city. It has since housed performances by Titta Ruffo, Plácido Domingo, Erinco Caruso, Luciano Pavarotti, among many others. The theater was closed in 2006 for refurbishment and is expected to open on 2010.

Outside of Buenos Aires it is possible to catch musical events such as the Musical Week Llao Llao, near Bariloche. The annual event held in October has presented performers such as the São Paulo Quartet, Martha Argerich, Paula Peluso, etc.

As for traditional Argentine dance, there are three categories: Chamamé, Cuarteto and Argentine Folk. Chamamé is of Polish and German heritage blended with Indigenous and African rhythms. Developed in the northern part of the country, the dance entails a cheek-to-cheek proximity. Cuarteto, on the other hand, was developed in Córdoba and has Italian and Spanish influences. The violin, piano, accordion and bass bands gave the dance its name, for there were always four instruments. An upbeat rhythm characterizes cuartetos, and its genre gave way to a more tropical music that later became the essence of bailantas.

Lastly, Argentine Folk dance is composed of four-part harmonies. The small town of Cosquín, in the Punilla Valley, has hosted an annual National Folklore Festival since 1961. Over 100,000 visitors crowd the streets of Cosquín to appreciate this form of cultural heritage.

From the widely known tango, to cumbia, salsa, traditional and even modern dance, Argentina is a country of rhythm that has transcended its European heritage and transform into its own form of art. Theater and cinema have also developed their own styles. Over eight national film companies are responsible for making Argentine cinema one of the most important in Spanish-speaking productions.


Here are some related tips to help plan your trip to Argentina: Cerro de la Virgen, Formosa’s Fantastic Beings, Art in Argentina, The Aónikenk, Literature, Gauchito Gil, Biblioteca Nacional, Milonga & Tango, Studying tango and visiting milongas and Museo de Deuda Externa.

03 Mar 2008

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