Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

August 28, 1995

Tango Music and Dance in Next Concert from the Folklife Center Concert

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress will present The New York-Buenos Aires Connection performing traditional Argentine tango music and dance on Thursday, September 21, from noon to 1 p.m. on the Neptune Plaza, west front steps of the Jefferson Building, First and Independence Ave. S.E. The event is free and open to the public. The rain location is the Mumford Room, sixth floor, Madison Building. The concert is presented in celebration of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

The tango dancers Rebecca Shulman of the United States and Jorge Udrisard of Argentina are examples of the tango's rebirth, especially among the younger generation. The other two dancers, Caty and Carlos Funes, are 40-year veterans of the dance.

The New York-Buenos Aires Connection was founded in 1991 by the band's contrabass player, Pablo Aslan, of Argentina, and its bandoneon player, Raul Jaurena, of Uruguay. The third member of the group is pianist Ethan Iverson of the United States.

The tango is the product of various peoples from various lands (Europe and Africa, as well as Argentina) who converged in the port areas of Buenos Aires at the turn of the century.

In its original incarnation, the tango was danced in bordellos and disreputable dance halls. It made its way to Europe by way of a few society men in Argentina who frequented the sleazy port areas and then showed off their newly learned dance on trips to Europe. Once the tango was acclaimed in Europe, particularly in France, just prior to World War I, Argentines became more receptive to it. The tango became more widely accepted in its own country in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. Following this period, a confluence of forces -- repressive military regimes and the popularity of rock and disco music -- overshadowed the tango. Now, as the century draws to a close, the Argentine tango might be coming full circle. In 1986, a group of professional dancers from Argentina put together a show called Tango Argentino, which met with rave reviews in Europe. Its success reverberated in the United States, where the show played to sold-out theaters.

Tango Argentino coincided with the end of military rule in Argentina. A heightened sense of nationalism, which combined with the impetus from abroad, has prompted Argentines to take another look at their tango tradition and embrace it.

The concert is part of a series of free Neptune Plaza Concerts that have been presented by the American Folklife Center on the steps of the Library of Congress since 1977. More than 120 concerts have been presented to an audience composed of tourists, school groups, congressional staff, foreign visitors, local residents, and occasionally, members of Congress. The concerts have been broadcast on WAMU-FM since 1988.

From its inception, the series has emphasized the cultural diversity of the American musical tradition, from Cambodian ballet and black blues artists to Native American dancers and Spanish flamenco. The American Folklife Center was created by the American Folklife Preservation Act of 1976. The purpose of the Center is to "preserve and present" American folklife through programs of research, field documentation, archival preservation, exhibition, publication, professional training, and live performance.

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PR 95-118
8/28/95
ISSN 0731-3527

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