Tango. A multidimensional expression of Argentine identity, one that speaks to that nation’s sense of disorientation, loss, and terror. Yet the tango mesmerizes dancers and audiences alike throughout the world. In Paper Tangos, Julie Taylor—a classically trained dancer and anthropologist—examines the poetics of the tango while describing her own quest to dance this most dramatic of paired dances.
Taylor, born in the United States, has lived much of her adult life in Latin America. She has spent years studying the tango in Buenos Aires, dancing during and after the terror of military dictatorships. This book is at once an account of a life lived crossing the borders of two distinct and complex cultures and an exploration of the conflicting meanings of tango for women who love the poetry of its movement yet feel uneasy with the roles it bestows on the male and female dancers. Drawing parallels among the violences of the Argentine Junta, the play with power inherent in tango dancing, and her own experiences with violence both inside and outside the intriguing tango culture, Taylor weaves the line between engaging memoir and insightful cultural critique. Within the contexts of tango’s creative birth and contemporary presentations, this book welcomes us directly into the tango subculture and reveals the ways that personal, political, and historical violence operate in our lives.
The book’s experimental design includes photographs on every page, which form a flip-book sequence of a tango. Not simply a book for tango dancers and fans, Paper Tangos will reward students of Latin American studies, cultural studies, anthropology, feminist studies, dance studies, and the art of critical memoir.