Tango (1905)

by popegrutch

This short dance movie by Alice Guy was no doubt shot during the same trip as last night’s “Spain.” The print which has survived is hand-tinted, which adds to the exotic color of the Spanish dance in the film, but the movie leaves some questions open.

TangoWe see what seems to be a small outdoor plaza or courtyard. There are two columns visible in the background, and before the columns are two guitarists. Between them stand two men and a woman in traditional dress. And in front of them is our dancer, a woman with a very frilly dress and a hat like a small sombrero. She dances while the onlookers clap their hands to the music. She frequently snaps her fingers or claps her hands while she dances, and there are many sudden starts and stops to her dance.

Now, I’m no dance expert, but to me this looks more like flamenco than tango. I thought, at least, that tango involved two dancers, and I guess in my mind one of them is supposed to have a rose in her teeth. Also, according to Wikipedia anyway, Tango was originally a Latin American dance, not Spanish. I was equally suspicious of the “Gypsy” dances we saw last night – I’m not sure that they weren’t traditional regional folk dances, but given a name that might sell better in the United States. If so, this shows how important the US market already was at this early time. Or it could just be that Guy didn’t know much about dancing either!

Director: Alice Guy

Camera: Unknown, possibly Anatole Thiberville or Alice Guy

Starring: Unknown

Run Time: 2 Min

You can watch it for free: here.