Arts & Entertainment

Buenos Aires Tango Festival and World Cup kicks off this week

Buenos Aires, Sep 16 (EFE).- For the first time in more than a decade, a woman will head the Buenos Aires Tango Festival and World Cup.

Natacha Poberaj, the 2006 world tango champion, will serve as director of the event that starts on Thursday and, after last year’s virtual edition of the festival, will once again put the Argentine capital on center stage for tango lovers with international competitions, exhibitions and tributes to iconic figures such as Argentine soccer great (and tango lover) Diego Maradona.

“Embracing safety and the tango gives us this chance. The chance to once again embrace each other and be a little closer is what I applaud about this festival,” Poberaj told EFE, emphasizing the “immense responsibility” of taking reins of the event and the “challenge” of doing so during the pandemic.

With Poberaj as the artistic director, the world’s most important yearly tango event once again will have a female stamp.

“Tango is a reflection of what’s happening in our lives, there are a pile of questions that were being socially modified and tango is a dance, a completely popular genre, and starting here everything that’s been getting modified socially impacts on the tango,” the professional dancer, who for years has been familiar with the festival’s inner workings, said.

After the 2020 festival, which was held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, such shows are now returning to the streets and stages combining in-person and virtual offerings and extracting the best of both. Festival organizers are always looking to advance the sector at the same time that they will maintain health protocols, including reduced attendance at the competitions and other events to help guard the health of the public.

Organized by the Culture Ministry of the City of Buenos Aires, the festival, which will run until Sept. 26, will include more than 100 different activities, including some devoted to “queer” tango, big concerts, classes and dance exhibitions, panel discussions and workshops, along with virtual events of various kinds.

Regarding the World Cup event, more than 400 couples from 25 countries will compete in the Tango de Pista and Tango Escenario categories under the attentive eyes of an internationally recognized panel of judges.

The Usina del Arte, in the capital’s emblematic La Boca district, will host the qualifying and semifinal rounds of the competition, albeit with reduced attendance, and the finals will be held on Sept. 25 in the open air next to the capital’s Obelisk, one of the most well-known and picturesque spots in Buenos Aires.

In addition to the finals, the event, which will also be broadcast live via the Vivamos Cultura Web site, will also feature shows by prestigious tango orchestras and voices.

At this year’s World Cup event, the dancers will be able to participate in person but also virtually, those doing the latter being mainly foreigners who cannot travel to Argentina because the country’s borders are closed.

“We’re finding that people who in past years never had been able to show up, because perhaps they were financially unable to get to Buenos Aires, both last year and this year have been able to enter (the competition) and that is a great achievement and, in some way, we owe that to the pandemic, which is a big challenge. From all this, we have the chance to learn, to reinvent ourselves,” said Poberaj, who won the world championship in the Tango Salon category in 2006.

Among the tributes to be made at the festival, on Sept. 21 at the capital’s Centennial Park more than 20 artists will perform to commemorate the life and talents of Diego Maradona, who died on Nov. 25, 2020, but loved tango and even sang classics like “El sueño del pibe.”

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