Argentine Tango Takes New York
At 11am Saturday morning, high above the noise and bustle of Chelsea, dozens of dancers glided counterclockwise inside the wooden floor studio of Dance Manhattan. Locked in a tango embrace, the couples made their way around the room to the rhythmic sounds of violins pouring out of the speakers. Weaving between the couples was a young woman with a warm smile, who seemed to know everyone and was frequently approached by the dancers for advice.
In addition to guiding students weekly, Mariela Franganillo brings a vibrant energy to New York City’s Argentine tango scene as an accomplished dancer, choreographer, and producer. Recent highlights of her career include performing in Broadway’s Forever Tango, at the National Dance Week festival in Washington D.C., A Tribute to Astor Piazzolla at the Weill Recital Hall in New York City, and to Fernando Otero’s quintet X-Tango.
In her desire to share Argentine tango’s rich history and its mesmerizing beauty during Latin Heritage Month, Ms. Franganillo was excited to discuss the upcoming N.Y. Tango Festival, which will be held from October 4-7 at the Alfred Lerner Hall of Columbia University. “It is the first time in the U.S. that something like this is happening. We never had a tango festival here that was both educational and entertaining,” said Ms. Franganillo. Together with Barnard College, Columbia University, and the World Music Institute, Ms. Franganillo has gathered an impressive lineup of professors, dancers, and musicians who will pay tribute to the beauty and passion of Argentine culture, music, and dance.
Over the course of the four-day festival, attendees will be treated to a variety of shows, presentations, dance classes, and milongas (tango parties). The performances include: Tango Connection featuring a 13-member tango ensemble of musicians and dancers embodying the compelling art form of the tango; Roxana Fontan, “The Voice of Buenos Aires” leading musicians and dancers in an enchanting evening of tango music; and Chango Spasiuk, a virtuoso accordionist who has won acclaim as the major innovator of chamamé – folkloric music which blends native Guarani, Creole and European traditions.
Although the shows are sure to attract much attention, Ms. Franganillo quickly pointed out that the Festival is as much about the history of Argentine tango as it is about the performances. “It is the culture that makes the dance,” revealed Ms. Franganillo.
In view of what the Festival has to offer, Ms. Franganillo hopes that it will contribute to a better modern appreciation of Argentine tango. The dance’s ability to connect two people and its opportunities for improvisation – making each couple, and each dance, unique, gives it a timeless appeal. Argentine tango is not exclusively for romantic couples either. As Ms. Franganillo affirmed, “Tango can be danced with your brother, with your father, and with your uncle – for 3 minutes, it is a conversation. It could be friendly, it could be sad, it could be sensuous. It is an emotional connection; so it is very personal.” For more information about the NY Tango Festival, visit www.nytangofestival.com.#