"Tango Show at Esquina Homero Manzi" by Karlyn Gehring, Oberlin College
Being in the land of Tango, we had been dying to see a professional show since arriving in Buenos Aires. However, we were glad that we waited until we had a better grasp of the history of the dance and its music, as well as some experience engaging with tango in the city. Richelle attended several tango dance lessons at la Viruta, and I took weekly dance lessons at Rojas Cultural Center, plus played violin in the Tango orchestra at IUNA musicales, the local art university. Furthermore, tango was consistently referenced in our classes, which allowed us to further appreciate the magnificent show we saw at Esquina Homero Manzi, a famous tango café in San Telmo.
Homero Manzi was an influential composer and poet of tango and milonga. In fact, he composed “Barrio de Tango,” which I played with my orchestra at IUNA in my most recent concert. The café represented the barrio San Telmo perfectly, complete with the feeling of tradition and antiquity. Inside, the walls were covered in photos of past guests, such as Evita Peron, and the tables were set immaculately, suggesting the prestige of the café. With a friendly welcome, we were sat at a table directly in front of the stage and given the fixed menu of the night, which consisted of an “aperitivo de bienvenido” (sherry and a baby empanada) and choices of entradas, platos principales, and yummy helado for dessert.
The show alternated between dancing and singing, with a live tango orchestra to accompany. All of the dances were beautifully choreographed, although some appeared more improvised than others and more like how we were taught to tango. It was interesting to compare the different styles of music and dance—milongas, tangos, and waltzes, and because we now had some background after living in Buenos Aires for several months, we were able to distinguish these components during the show.
We also enjoyed the variety of duets, solo dances and group choreography, as well as the elaborate costumes and the use of props. I was also able to recognize many of the songs from my repertoire at IUNA and compare the differences in how they were performed and improvised, which greatly enhanced the experience. All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves celebrating the 4th of July Argentina style, empanadas and all!