Come dance the Yid­dish tango

The his­tory and cul­ture of Ar­gentina’s Jewish com­mu­nity is be­ing cel­e­brated in Lon­don this month. DanaGloger looks at what’s in store

The Jewish Chronicle - - ARTS&BOOKS -

TANGO IS not some­thing tra­di­tion­ally a s s oci a t e d wit h Jews. Un­til now. On Mon­day, a twoweek s e a s o n of events cel­e­brat­ing the Ar­gen­tinian Jewish com­mu­nity is launched. Its grand finale will be a night of “Yid­dish tango” on Novem­ber 25, when dancer Kim Schwartz will be guest of hon­our.

Schwartz, a Bri­tish-born for­mer lawyer, first fell in love with tango 10 years ago. So moved was she when she first saw it be­ing per­formed that she gave up her job in the City and moved to Ar­gentina, home of the dance.

“It was a life-chang­ing mo­ment for me.AsIs­tart­edlearn­ing­more­and­more about it, I re­alised that there was a Jewish in­flu­ence in the mu­sic, par­tic­u­larly with the strong vi­o­lin sounds, which came partly from Euro­pean Jewry.”

She is look­ing for­ward to danc­ing Yid­dish tango — where Yid­dish lyrics are added to Ar­gen­tinian mu­sic — later this month. “It will be very spe­cial. We have never danced to that be­fore.”

Sch­warz, 32, and her part­ner David Ben­itez, 29, who is from Ar­gentina, will im­pro­vise to mu­sic sung by Lloica Cza­ckis, as well as per­form­ing one of their own dances.

The evening is one of many events tak­ing place in Lon­don to cel­e­brate Ar­gentina’s 230,000-strong com­mu­nity, the sev­enth largest in the world.

There are cur­rently around 7,000 Ar­gen­tinian Jews liv­ing in the UK, with ap­prox­i­mately 3,000 to 5,000 of them in Lon­don.

The sea­son, which starts on Novem­ber 12, has been or­gan­ised by the Ar­gen­tinian Em­bassy in Lon­don in con­junc­tion with the Jewish Com­mu­nity in Ar­gentina (AMIA).

An ex­hi­bi­tion, Jewish Life in Ar­gentina, will be held at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don, with a smaller dis­play, The Jewish Gau­chos of the Ar­gen­tine Coun­try­side, at Lon­don’s old­est syn­a­gogue, Be­vis Marks. Em­bassy of­fi­cial Carolina Pérez Col­man notes that Jewish gau­chos (SouthAmer­i­can­cow­boys) were a clear ex­am­ple of “the fu­sion of two cul­tures”.

An Ar­gen­tini­anstyle Shab­bat ser­vice will also be held at Bel­size Square Syn­a­gogue, in North- West Lon­don, on Novem­ber 16, and there will also be a se­ries of lec­tures through­out the week.

The Ar­gen­tinian am­bas­sador will host a re­cep­tion on Novem­ber 14, where he will be joined by Ale­jan­dro Gross­man, Ar­gentina’s un­der-sec­re­tary of wor­ship.

San­ti­ago Vil­lalba, first sec­re­tary at the Ar­gen­tine Em­bassy, says the ex­hi­bi­tions and events will demon­strate the enor­mous con­tri­bu­tion which Jewish im­mi­grants made to Ar­gentina.

“They made the coun­try bet­ter. You can’t ex­plain many parts of Ar­gen­tinian cul­ture, such as our theatre, cin­ema or even sense of hu­mour, with­out the Jewish com­po­nent.

“The ad­ven­ture of the Jewish com­mu­nity in Ar­gentina is an ex­am­ple of the hu­man ad­ven­ture in gen­eral. It shows how hu­mans can be­gin once again even when they have lost ev­ery­thing. It’s a his­tory of stub­born­ness.” Carolina Pérez Col­man says: “The Ar­gen­tinian Jewish com­mu­nity’s in­te­gra­tion in the coun­try has been ex­tremely suc­cess­ful and the pur­pose of th­ese events is to show the com­mu­nity’s valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the con­struc­tion of Ar­gen­tine cul­ture and na­tional iden­tity.” She adds that the ex­hi­bi­tions may go on tour af­ter Lon­don. For more in­for­ma­tion, email events@ar­gen­ti­neem­bassy-

uk.org

Lon­don bound: an ex­hi­bi­tion on the Jewish gau­chos of Ar­gentina ( above) and ( right) Yid­dish tango per­formed by Kim Schwartz and David Ben­itez

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