Peer Reviewed

Essay Excerpt

When they dance to tangos, Argentines contemplate themes akin to those of tango lyrics, stimulating emotions that, despite an apparently contradictory choreography, are the same as those behind the songs. The choreography also reflects the world of the lyrics, but indirectly. The dance portrays an encounter between the powerful and completely dominant male and the passive, docile, completely submissive female. The passive woman and the rigidly controlled but physically aggressive man contrast poignantly with the roles of the sexes depicted in the tango lyrics. This contrast between two statements of relations between the sexes aptly mirrors the insecurities of life and identity. (Taylor, 485) 

About the Author

Dr. Julie Taylor is Professor Emerita of Anthropology at Rice University. Her research follows political violence, politics and aesthetics, aesthetics and violence, police and justice, and Argentina. She teaches these topics and the importance of their interactions: violence, art, gender, history, and experimental ethnography. Julie Taylor will move to Argentina to research tango with funding from a prestigious Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. The fellowship is meant "to help provide fellows with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible," according to the Guggenheim Foundation's Web site. This year, 182 fellows were selected from 2,927 applicants.Professionals in all fields except the performing arts can apply. Fellowships are not available for students, institutions or organizations. She said she's spent over half of her adult life in Argentina. "Two-thirds of it I spent working on political terror and violence," she said. "While I was there, I began to learn tango. I had been trained as a dancer, so it was the natural thing to do in Argentina."Taylor learned to tango in both academies and dance halls, and she eventually she took up tango as a research subject." I do most of my research by having become a very, very good dancer and hanging out with very, very good dancers and listening to what they say," Taylor said. "I have to be a good dancer or else they wouldn't talk to me. They probably wouldn't even give me the time of day. They have some very sad stories. It's a heart-rending situation." Taylor was invited to come to teach at Rice in 1981 because of her unique specialty.

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