Paper Tangos

Paper Tangos

Public Planet Books

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Book Pages: 160 Illustrations: 89 b&w photographs Published: July 1998

Author: Julie Taylor

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies, Theater and Performance > Dance

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.


“[Taylor’s] anthropology of tango guides us beyond an excursion through the traditional lore of one particular cultural community towards an understanding of how cultural phenomena and the practises of everyday are in general ways of expressing and confronting experience.” — Richard A. Young , Canadian Review of Comparative Literature

“Based upon her years of experience living in Argentina and dancing, Taylor’s remarkable opus confirms that contemporary dance writing can be at once moving, personal, and profound.” — Thomas DeFrantz , Dance Critics Association News

“Taylor binds together the teror of events under military dictatorships, the role of violence, Argentine identity, male/female roles, and the tango as an expression of these elements in a unique, personal way. . . . Recommended. . . .” — James E. Ross , Library Journal

“Those readers who . . . follow the author’s lead in the intricate and often painful steps of her tango will be enthralled, though breathless, by the time the bandoneon intones the song’s last mournful notes.” — Melissa Fitch Lockhart , Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies

"Taylor's book is a refreshing read: evocative, intimate, and with a real ability to effect a transfer of the ethos of music and the physicality of the dance from the page into the reader's mind." — Peter Wade , Latin American Research Review

“Julie Taylor has written a wonderful, brilliant book about the poetics of the tango in Argentina. . . . While its theoretical perspective is very sophisticated, it is also very clearly (though poetically), directly, and succinctly presented in a sparse, elegant, suggestive prose.” — Kathleen Stewart, University of Texas at Austin

“This is a highly unusual work, an allegory of violence and civil war through reflections on the tango by an unusually honest writer with an intimate knowledge, as insider and outsider, of Argentinian history and culture.” — Michael Taussig, Columbia University


Availability: In stock
Price: $23.95

Open Access