Tango Nuevo

Carolyn Merritt

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"Required reading for anyone who understands the electrifying power that dance has to transform a life. Exceptionally well written . . . her lively, engaging writing style is unique--it can go from side-splittingly funny to poignant in the time it takes to execute a boleo."--Melissa A. Fitch, author of Side Dishes: Latina American Women, Sex, and Cultural Production

The Argentine tango is one of the world’s best-known partner dances. Though tango is much admired and discussed, very little has been written on its ongoing evolution. In this innovative work, Carolyn Merritt surveys tango history while focusing on the most recent iteration of the dance, tango Nuevo, and the práctica scene that has exploded in Buenos Aires since the early 2000s.
After starting with an overview of tango, Merritt leads readers on a great adventure through the traditional dance halls and the less formal prácticas of Buenos Aires to tango communities on both coasts of the United States. Along the way, Merritt’s personal observations show the dance’s emotional depth and the challenges dancers face in tango venues old and new. Her investigation also demonstrates how innovation, globalization, and fusion, which many associate with nuevo, have always been at work in tango.
Combining sensuous prose, provocative images, and often heartbreaking stories, this book takes an unflinching look at the complex motivations driving the pursuit to master this intricate dance. Throughout, Merritt questions the "newness" of Nuevo through portraits of machismo, violence, and elitism in contemporary tango. The result is a volume that highlights the tensions between preservation and evolution of this--or any--cultural art form.
Members of the global tango community as well as students of dance, folklore, anthropology, and the social sciences will embrace this book. For those who are devoted to Argentine tango as dance, this book will be indispensable to understanding its most recent transformations.

Carolyn Merritt is adjunct professor of anthropology at Arcadia University.

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"Sensational…skillfully combines anthropological research and analysis with a dancer’s passion for this most contentious of styles as she seeks to answer the question of whether there is such a thing as “tango nuevo” – a distinctly separate, new version of tango with different rules and devotees." Dance-Today

"Combines powerful descriptive prose and history to make for a definitive examination of how tango is evolving and changing today." The Midwest Book Review

"Not only is Carolyn Merritt a dynamic hybrid - American-born anthropologist, writer, and dancer - but so is her fascinating 'Tango Nuevo', part memoir, part academic study of the culture of Argentina's signature social dance." Dance Magazine

"An informative, well-documented, valuable study written in a spirited style and well illustrated...The fields of dance history, anthropology, and sociology need more literature like this. Highly recommended." CHOICE

"The passionate pull of the ever popular Argentine tango and its controversial evolution and spread throughout the modern world is explored in the lover’s embrace." Florida Times-Union

“A wonderfully engaging ethnography, Tango Nuevo guides us on a journey through identity investigation, physical frustration, and cultural confusion as we encounter the nostalgic world of Tango.” Thinking Dance

“An honest journey into the tango world of the twenty-first century. The book’s truthfulness, revealing the metaphysical transformation of a dancer and a scholar by the magic of tango, makes it an important contribution to dance studies, Latin American cultural studies, and global studies, and a wonderful read for all those who love tango.” Dance Chronicle

“The author’s beautiful style, along with her use of the first person, offers a powerful narrative that successfully turns the reader into an intimate witness of her vivid experiences.” The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

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