Argentine Tango: Collaborative Art & Cultural Exchange

DNCE 095 Z1 (CRN: 60608) ~ 3 credits ~ Southwick Ballroom, Redstone Campus A UVM Diversity Course (D2) MWF 5-7:30 pm Instructor: Elizabeth M. Seyler, Ph.D., 802-318-4959 or 215-432-1023 (cell) Course Description Thousands of people dance Argentine tango every week in Burlington, Montreal, New York, Buenos Aires, Paris, London, and beyond. What makes it so special? Discover tango's appeal, history, and culture. This course offers an introduction to Argentine tango for dancers and non-dancers, including how to dance tango, how to understand tango music, the importance of its lyrics, and how to interact in a tango community. The course recounts tango’s history from the 1800s to the present, including the politics of immigration and how the arts and cultures of Africa, Europe, and Latin America shaped tango’s development. The course examines how dance and music reflect and express individual and cultural identity, how current tango practice around the world affects health and wellbeing, tango’s role in the context of current cultural and economic issues in Argentina and Uruguay, and tango’s capacity to promote individual growth and cultural pluralism. Students dance, study music, read scholarly articles, write papers and poetry, create visual art, and engage in class discussions and debates. The course celebrates multiple intelligences and encourage students to take ownership of their learning. Guest dancers, musicians, and historians from nearby tango communities help students understand and connect with tango’s expression in North American society. Each time the class meets, we’ll dance, study music, and engage in class discussion. No dance experience is necessary, and people of all ages are welcome. Instructor Elizabeth Seyler, PhD, has taught tango since 2006 and creates a friendly, welcoming, playful environment for people all ages and abilities. Students should come dressed in comfortable clothing, wearing socks or clean, hardsoled shoes that pivot easily on a wooden floor. High-heeled shoes are not required or recommended.
DNCE 095 Z1 (CRN: 60608) Summer 2013 ~ Argentine Tango Course Syllabus ~ Page 1 of 7
© By Elizabeth M. Seyler 2013 All rights reserved.

Significant Learning Goals Upon completion of the course, students will: 1. be able to dance basic tango in connection with their partner and with the music, including effective collaboration and communication skills; 2. be able to identify the three types of tango music and some well-known vocalists or orchestras as well as understand some tango lyrics and the importance of lunfardo (a form of slang that evolved alongside tango dance and music at the turn of the twentieth century); 3. be able to describe the history of tango dance and music from the late 1800s to the present, including tango’s source in multiple cultures and current economic and cultural issues; 4. be able to engage in thoughtful oral and written discourse on the meaning of “dance” and “culture” and how tango reflects and expresses individual and cultural identity; 5. have a better understanding of how dancing tango embodies one’s relationship to self and other and how it can support cultural pluralism; and 6. know codes of interaction for tango events in cities in the Northeastern United States and Canada. Assignments Class Participation Active participation in class is a key part of the course and an essential part your grade, whether we are dancing, listening to music, or engaging in discussion. The quality of your contributions is far more important than the quantity. No one should dominate discussion. Rather, comments and questions that are relevant and informed will enhance everyone’s learning. Tango will come easily for some and more slowly for others. When moving and dancing, in particular, students must be respectful, patient, and compassionate with each other. A supportive, encouraging, team approach to learning is essential. Please come with a positive attitude, a curious mind, and a kind heart. Each class will build on what was covered in the previous class, so excellent attendance is important. (More on that below.) Readings Students will read one short article or chapter per week. All readings must be completed before the beginning of the class when they’re due. See Blackboard for reading assignments, discussion questions, and reminders of other assignments and due dates. Online Videos We will watch one great tango documentary in class, and I’ll assign some videos via youtube. They are short, fun, and will help you understand tango. Please view videos before the beginning of the class when they’re “due.” See Blackboard for web links and reminders. Portfolios Portfolios are intended to help you absorb, integrate, reflect on, and express your learning throughout the course. Complete a total of two portfolios during the course. Each portfolio submission must include at least two of the following three items (for example, one essay and two pieces of visual art, or three poems and two pieces of visual art), and you must submit at least one essay during the course.
DNCE 095 Z1 (CRN: 60608) Summer 2013 ~ Argentine Tango Course Syllabus ~ Page 2 of 7
© By Elizabeth M. Seyler 2013 All rights reserved.

1. One typed essay (3 pages) that addresses one of the following topics or a topic that the student and professor agree on at least two weeks before the portfolio is due. a. Is learning about tango shifting your understanding of how dance and music relate to history and/or culture? If not, why not? If so, how? b. Summarize the lyrics of a tango song and explain how they relate to the period when they were written. What do the lyrics tell us about social life, identity, and values at that time and place? c. Describe how something you have learned about tango relates to your life or your community (e.g., physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, spiritually, economically, politically). Use specific examples. d. What have you learned so far about Argentina or Argentine tango that has surprised you compared to your understanding of it before this course? Please describe in detail. 2. Two original visual representations in watercolor, pen and ink, charcoal, collage, or other medium that express your understanding (to date) of tango’s history and/or culture. For each visual representation, attach a half-page description of what it means to you and how it relates to course content. 3. Three original poems in your choice of meter and style that are at least 12 lines long on any topic we are discussing in class. If you choose haiku or another very short style, the requirement increases to six poems. For each poem, attach a half-page description of what it means to you and how it relates to course content. Essays and art descriptions will be graded for relevance to course content as well as spelling, grammar, punctuation, and organization/flow. Artistic items will be graded for artistic merit, relevance to course content, and honest expression of your learning/understanding. Late Submissions: Grades on portfolios will be reduced by 10 points (out of 100) for each day that items are handed in late. Portfolio items will receive a 0 grade if handed in more than 3 days late. Important: All written assignments must be typed and double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman with 1-inch margins, page numbers, and your name and the date at the top of the page. In-class Self Critiques This activity is designed to help you practice self-celebration, self-critique, and good communication skills for social dance. It will be part of your grade in terms of class participation, not how “well” you dance. After dancing a few songs with the same partner, everyone will stop and write in response to questions I give you regarding your own facility with key elements of dancing: connecting with your partner, listening and responding to your partner, the musicality of your movement, your tango technique, your self-expression, and your internal experience (what you think and feel). You will then work in pairs to share what you wrote. Your partner will
DNCE 095 Z1 (CRN: 60608) Summer 2013 ~ Argentine Tango Course Syllabus ~ Page 3 of 7
© By Elizabeth M. Seyler 2013 All rights reserved.

share what he/she appreciates about dancing with you and will answer questions you pose regarding things you would like to improve. You will then dance with someone else and do the same exercise again. Attending a Local Milonga or Practica In the last two weeks of class, you will be required to attend one milonga (social tango dance event) or practica (social tango practice event) in Burlington. We will schedule trips together and go as a group. I’ll introduce you to local dancers, and they will be very welcoming and encouraging, as usual! One doesn’t really understand tango until seeing it “in action” in a community setting. In-class Aural Music Test You will listen to songs that we have studied in class and be asked to identify (in writing) three out of the following seven elements for each song: the title, the type of tango music (tango, vals, or milonga), the orchestra name, the vocalist’s name, the general meaning of the lyrics, the instruments being played, and/or the era when it was written. In-class Dance Test This test measures your understanding of basic steps, patterns, and codes of movement and interaction. It is not an evaluation of how “well” you dance. There will be two parts: 1) a few written questions about etiquette and conduct at milongas and practicas, and 2) an opportunity for you and your partner to identify and demonstrate steps and patterns from class. In-class History Test You will complete a written in-class test on the history of tango, consisting primarily of multiplechoice and short answer questions. We will closely review tango history before the test. Student Evaluation/Assessment Weightings of Assessment Components In-class participation 50 % Portfolios (2 total) 25 % In-class aural music test 5% In-class dance test 10 % In-class written history test 10 %

Grading Scale
A+ 97-100 A 93-96 B+ 87-89 B 83-86 B- 80-82 C+ 77-79 C 73-76 D+ 67-69 D 63-66 D- 60-62

A- 90-92

C- 70-72

Electronic Submissions/Internet Use Papers and other assignments may be submitted in printed form or via email to or before class starts on the day the assignment is due. Readings will be available on Blackboard, as will links to assigned videos and web pages.

DNCE 095 Z1 (CRN: 60608) Summer 2013 ~ Argentine Tango Course Syllabus ~ Page 4 of 7
© By Elizabeth M. Seyler 2013 All rights reserved.

Overview of Content Content will probably change slightly to accommodate student interests. I’ll remind you of upcoming assignments at the end of each class, and they’ll be posted on Blackboard. Week 1 Dance: Tango walking, partnering, turning, navigation, 6-count basic History/Culture: The cultural preparation – Africans, Europeans, and South Americans in Argentina and Uruguay set the tango stage Music: Candombe, milonga, and canyengue Assessment: none Week 2 Dance: Pivoting, leading steps with steps or pivots, parallel versus crossed walking, the molinete History/Culture: Tango Mania in Paris and Europe 1913 to 1914 Music: Early tango music, tango vals; the importance of tango lyrics Assessment: In-class Self-critique #1 Week 3 Dance: Ochos forward and backward, boleos, more on the molinete History/Culture: Tango of the Golden Age 1920s to 1940s Music: Tango of the Golden Age 1920s to 1940s; the evolution of lyrics Assessment: Portfolio #1 due Week 4 Dance: the cross, 8-count pattern, open embrace History/Culture: Tango’s dormancy and political repression Music: Piazzolla and tango’s continued evolution Assessment: In-class Self-critique #2

Week 5 Dance: traspie, ocho cortado, pauses and musicality History/Culture: Tango’s international revival beginning in the 1980s; current topics in culture, economics, health, and politics Music: Tango nuevo and other contemporary tango music Assessment: Portfolio #2 due Week 6 Dance: review History/Culture: Current tango and review Music: Review Assessment: In-class test
DNCE 095 Z1 (CRN: 60608) Summer 2013 ~ Argentine Tango Course Syllabus ~ Page 5 of 7
© By Elizabeth M. Seyler 2013 All rights reserved.

General Course Information Course Policies/Expectations To successfully participate in this course, one must be in good physical condition – that is, able to walk, do gentle torso twists, and balance for 30 seconds on one foot. One must also be willing to move through space in close physical contact with fellow students. Attendance Expectations We will learn new dance moves and discuss new concepts in every class, so good attendance and arriving on time is the best way to keep up with material, enjoy the course, and contribute. Any absence or tardy arrival will put you behind, much of which cannot be made up since it involves group participation. A one-class absence is allowed, but you must inform me via email or phone three hours ahead of time, including the reason for your absence and a note from your doctor for any medical absence. You must also interview at least one class member to find out the specifics of what you missed (to be written up in your portfolio). Every absence after the first absence will lower your FINAL grade by 5 points (that is, an A becomes an A-, or a B- becomes a C+). If you arrive 10 or more minutes after class has begun, you are considered tardy, with three tardy arrivals equaling a one-class absence. After a sum of three class absences without written medical documentation from your doctor, you will be asked to drop the course or receive a failing grade. Religious Observance The official UVM policy for excused absences for religious holidays: students have the right to practice the religion of their choice. Each semester students should submit in writing to their instructors by the end of the second full week of classes their documented religious holiday schedule for the semester. Faculty must permit students who miss work for the purpose of religious observance to make up this work. Academic Honesty & Professionalism All students are required to be familiar with and adhere to the “Academic Honesty Policy Procedures” delineated in the following website. ). Accommodations Accommodations will be provided to eligible students with disabilities. Please obtain an accommodation letter from the ACCESS office and see one of the instructors early in the course to discuss what accommodations will be necessary. If you are unfamiliar with ACCESS, visit their website at to learn more about the services they provide. ACESS: A-170 Living Learning Center, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405. PH: 802-656-7753, TTY: call 711 (relay), Fax: 802-656-0739, Email:, Instant Messenger: UVMaccess. General office hours: 8:30am – 4:30pm Monday through Friday. Call to make an appointment.

DNCE 095 Z1 (CRN: 60608) Summer 2013 ~ Argentine Tango Course Syllabus ~ Page 6 of 7
© By Elizabeth M. Seyler 2013 All rights reserved.

Resources Students may be asked to purchase a tango music CD on the first day of class for $5. We will read portions of some of the following documents and view some of the videos during the course. “An Anthropologist Looks at Ballet as a Form of Ethnic Dance” by Joann Kealinohomoku in Impulse (1970): 24-33. ¡Bailemos Tango!: A Century of Tango on the Dance Floor, Rhino Records 2000. “Effect of a Community-Based Argentine Tango Dance Program on Functional Balance and Confidence in Older Adults” by Patricia McKinley, et. al. in Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, vol. 16, issue 4, 2008. “Five Premises for a Cultural Sensitive Approach to Dance,” by Deidre Sklar in Moving History / Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader, edited by Ann Dils and Ann Cooper Albright. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001. The Meaning of Tango: The Story of the Argentinean Dance by Christine Denniston. Anova Books, 2008 Paper Tangos by Julie Taylor, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1998 Tango: The Art History of Love by Robert Farris Thompson, New York, NY: Pantheon Books, 2005. "Tango Bar" (movie) featuring Carlos Gardel, Paramount 1935. Tango!: The Dance, the Song, the Story, edited by Simon Collier, New York, NY: Thames & Hudson, 1997 Tango: The Obsession (documentary) by Adam Boucher, Adam Boucher Films LLC, 1998. “The Tango Philadelphia Story: A Study of Community, Age, Health, and Argentine Tango” by Elizabeth M. Seyler in Tango, body to cultural body: Dancing together for better life, Québec: Presses de L’Université du Québec, 2009. (Published in French as “L’Histoire du Tango à Philadelphie: Étude sur la communauté, l’âge, la santé et le tango argentin” in Tango, corps à corps culturel: Danser en tandem pour mieux vivre.) “Dance, Music, and Spirit: A Phenomenological Study” by Elizabeth M. Seyler; scheduled for publication in 2012 by Presses de L’Université du Québec in French as “Danse, musique et ésprit : une étude phénomenologique.” Tango and the Political Economy of Passion by Marta E. Savigliano Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1995. Tango Voices by Donald Cohen, Music Sales America, 2007.
DNCE 095 Z1 (CRN: 60608) Summer 2013 ~ Argentine Tango Course Syllabus ~ Page 7 of 7
© By Elizabeth M. Seyler 2013 All rights reserved.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful