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