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Sat Mar 8 09:47:39 MST 2003
NY Times, Mar. 8, 2003
A Downer of a Dance, the Tango Is In Again
By LARRY ROHTER
BUENOS AIRES, March 7 Every Argentine knows that when you're depressed
there is nothing like a well-played tango to make you even more morose. So
just imagine the effect of a nine-day tango festival that features dozens
of free concerts as well as photo exhibitions, dance classes and what is
billed as the first world championship for tango dancers.
Argentina is struggling to emerge from the worst economic crisis in its
history, and the festival here, which ends on Sunday night, is a
government-sponsored attempt to offer some solace to the population. But
the event also raises questions not only about the place of tango in
contemporary Argentine society but also about its vitality and future.
The tango, in contrast, remains more resistant both to outside influences
and innovation from within. Many fans here continue to reject the music of
the last of the style's great trendsetters, the accordionist and composer
Astor Piazzolla, who died in 1992 at the age of 71.
"That's because Piazzolla didn't play tango for the last 45 years of his
career," argued Jorge Dispari, a tango instructor and coach to some of the
dancers in the competition. "The true tango is that which was played by
orchestras in the 1940's and earlier, which was dance music. Why bother to
mix that with something else that is not tango, which is what Piazzolla did."
As a result of that attitude, Argentine musicians who want to extend the
reach of the tango have tended to go elsewhere to develop their style and
gain acceptance. So an experimental ensemble like a French-Argentine
septet, the Gotan Project, which mixes tango with Jamaican dub, house music
and hip-hop, find themselves based in Paris and more popular there than here.
Gotan Project website: http://www.gotanproject.com
Gotan Project's "Capitalismo Foreano" (Foreign Capitalism):
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