To launch the 7th Annual Latin American Cultural Week in NYC (November 9 – 19), an unusual and rousing all-female multi-media music and dance program, Polly Ferman’s Glamour Tango, was presented at the Society for Ethical Culture. A packed house enjoyed every moment of the performance, which salutes the role and contributions of women to this art form. Rarely seen early Tango films were shown on a large screen behind the all-female orchestra and dancers. (Photo at top, Polly Ferman, Musical Director and Pianist.)
Argentine Tango has been compared to American jazz, in that it originated in and around the bordellos of Buenos Aires in the early 19th Century and, regardless of its Spanish, African and European origins, developed into a wholly original and indigenous art form. One theory is that because immigrant men outnumbered women, men would dance with men to practice their dance steps in order to attract the few available women around. As tango increased in popularity, so did same-sex tango dancing, including women playing men.
Emblematic of the sound of Tango is the Bandoneon, an accordion-like instrument, beautifully played by Argentinean Ferrerya, who has toured the world with orchestras and as a soloist playing the repertory of Astor Piazzola and other contemporary Argentine composers.
Tango music, like the blues, combines melancholy and sensuality with irresistible rhythms. The choreographed dances, expertly performed, ran the gamut from playful to intense and were a mix of dance-theater alternating with virtuoso dance duets.
Guest singer Roxana Fontan, a renowned Argentinean tango singer, delivered dramatic, soul-wrenching solos that brought down the house.
Photos by Eleanor Foa Dienstag
To find a full calendar of cultural and musical Latin American events in New York go to Latin American Cultural Week in New York City