Argentina's Independence Day fell earlier this month on July 9. But if you didn't observe the holiday then, there's still time. Miami offers a chance to celebrate it with an explosion of tango.
This Saturday night at the Manuel Artime Theater, Miami's Tango Times Dance Company will present Tango Baroque, as 12 dancing couples glide through the history of tango. The dancers will celebrate tango's beginnings in the loneliness of the pampas; they will move on to the golden era of Carlos Gardel; and then to the renaissance that was Astor Piazzolla.
The show, however, won't stop there. The Tango Times dancers will be accompanied by the classic tango quartet -- pianist, violinist, bassist and of course, bandolin player. This quartet will be directed by Maestro Anibal Berraute, the pianist, arranger and producer behind many of the Americas most celebrated recent tango concerts and recordings. Berraute is a composer as well.
Even the most jaded Porteno would probably admit that other rhythms besides tango have a significant place in Argentina's cultural heritage. The evening's performance will include a glimpse of the country's folkloric tradition, one perhaps best exemplified by the late Mercedes Sosa's booming voice and percussion.
Anyone who knows The Tango Times Dance Company can expect that no matter the genre presented, the dances will be infused with an athleticism usually associated with modern dance and ballet. There will be moments throughout the evening when one will see the kinds of extravaganzas, including lifts, usually reserved for the best of Dancing with the Stars.
But the Tango Times Dance Company is about more than dance. Like any tango worth its salt, it is also a love story. Two tango dancers arrived in Miami in 2000. They were coming from Buenos Aires. Neither knew the other. One of them, Oscar Caballero, had visited Miami years before with an Argentine dance company, fallen in love with the air and the sea of this place and vowed he would return here to live. Fifteen years later, he did that -- just in time to meet Roxana Garber. A dancer with a bounty of classical training who had recently lost her mother, Roxana had decided it was time to move closer to her Miami relatives. At a tango performance one night, an emcee asked the two to dance together. That dance was their first meeting.
Now, 12 years later, they have three children, as well as a dance company -- Tango Times Dance Company has performed throughout the U.S.--- and even a school that welcomes everyone from those taking their first tango steps to professional dancers. Roxana puts it this way: "Oscar finished the story of tango in me."
The Tango Times Dance Company is also the story of maturing city. When Oscar and Roxana first made their home in Miami, "there were a handful of places, if that, where one could go to dance tango," according to Oscar. Now, one can attend milongas -- the seemingly endless circle of tangeros and tangeras -- every night of the week.
In the meantime, those three kids, the children of the founders of Tango Times Dancers, are having a great time dancing all around the house.
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"Tango Baroque" begins at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, at the Manuel Artime Theater, 900 SW First St., Miami; tickets range from $20-35. Call 305-266-3029, or go to manuelartimetheater.com.
--Elizabeth Hanly, artburstmiami.com