Between Shadows and Longing: The Zero Hour Tango Fest Brings the Sensuality of Late Night City Streets onto the Stage
A tango festival unlike any other.
Walking among dimly lit streets, a clock strikes midnight and the mythical zero hour" is upon you. It has long past since the skyline swallowed the sun, as familiar city scenes are reborn with a mysterious air. Shadows take on a life of their own, slipping between the glow of streetlights and neon signs. The seductive melancholy of a slow tango creeps into your heart, transporting you to a nostalgic dimension where memories of home, lament for lost loves, and hardships of daily life flash across your mind. The breaths of the concertina-like bandonen reverberate throughout your body as they merge with a passionate delivery of poetic lyrics and the sultry intimacy of a dancing couple, stirring a swirl of emotions within your soul.
On March 26th and 27th, 2010, a commissioned ensemble of renown all-star tango masters will descend on the byways of Bloomington, Indiana, to put in motion the Zero Hour Tango Fest, an immersive, multi-sensory theatrical experience that will reinterpret this urban landscape through the lens of tango. In addition to musical and dance performances, throughout the evening concerts, local videographers, armed with cameras, will comb the corners of Bloomington's avenues and alleyways. Projecting live video onto the screens of the theatre, they will bring the street onto the stage. As these images merge with the musical performances, it will become clear that tango is not only an art, but also a way of being in the world. Tango is a worldview that works as well in a town like Bloomington as it does in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Tango is music, dance, and poetry," explains Alfredo Minetti, musician, scholar, and producer of this event. Tango is an expression, a gaze, a walk, and a type of character-an entire moral system. It is rare to see all these things represented on stage together. Usually, people just emphasize the dance or the music." Through the course of concerts, workshops, an open dance floor, and roundtable discussions, this festival will explore the intersection of these elements, connecting the shadowy zero hour with the darker sides of the human condition.
Tango is a music of the night. It was born in the night. It doesn't matter where-in brothels or dance academies," says Minetti. It tells you that reality is harsh, that it is bad and that it is likely going to get even worse tomorrow. It is a fatalistic approach to life. Tango functions like an open wound that never quite heals. Sometimes once in a while you poke at it, and it reminds you of how things are around you."
The emotional sores that permeate tango, center around two topics," Minetti says, leaving and returning." Originating in the slums of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century, the tango tells intimate stories of the transatlantic journeys of immigrants from Europe and Africa, expressing their incompleteness -- a forlorn nostalgia for their distant homeland, an idealized past, or a broken relationship. Tango," Minetti explains, allows its participants to experience an incredible depth of emotional intensity and, at the end, a catharsis of these feelings."
As globalization marches ahead and populations diffuse throughout the world, not only has tango firmly established itself as an influential genre in the realm of world music, tango's emotive themes, associated with migration, continue to resonate with audiences today. For instance, born in Uruguay, raised in Brazil, and later living in Argentina and the U.S., Minetti embodies the transitory spirit of the tango. If there was anything that was always a constant in my life, it was tango," he recalls. Many people in Bloomington share similar stories, experiencing the emotional roller coaster that comes with relocating to this itinerant University town. Everything that we feel in tango is not foreign to people in America," Minetti remarks. Emotion is translatable across cultures. So any audience will relate to the festival."
The centerpieces of this festival will be two evening concerts at the historic Buskirk-Chumley Theater, featuring some of the most noted names in tango. Each has their own style and personality, emphasizing different elements of tango, landing them at various points along the spectrum of traditional and contemporary aesthetics. When these artists collaborate on the festival stage, therefore, their individual sensibilities will naturally strike a delicate balance between preserving the past and looking towards the future. Representing tango of the 21st century, Grammy awarded pianist, composer, and arranger Pablo Ziegler, is the future of tango," Minetti says. His constant experimentation with new sonic possibilities pushes tango tastefully into unexplored territory. He is like the legendary composer Astor Piazzolla, who experimented with classical and a little jazz," Minetti explains, except Pablo uses jazz and a little classical." Similarly, bassist, composer, and arranger Pedro Giraudo is well known for incorporating the qualities and orchestrations of big band jazz into his modern tango works. Or, as Minetti puts it, he is a tango man, but chose a different path for his own music."
Offering a counterweight, Argentinean bandonen virtuoso Hector Del Curto, is the tradition," Minetti remarks, because he is the last of the inheritors of it, having performed with Osvaldo Pugliese's great tango orchestra." His instrument has become synonymous with the tango, and gives it its distinct nostalgic and forlorn flavor. Before, flutes and accordions were used. They were too happy," Minetti explains, and that didn't reflect the reality of the Italian immigrants, so they incorporated the brooding tones of the bandonen." Del Curto's wife, Korean-American cellist Jisoo Ok, will be lending her versatile, expressive string playing to the ensemble. As one of the most in-demand tango artists, she has performed with a number of noted tango artists, including those listed here.
A master of delivery, singer Sandra Luna straddles the line between traditional and contemporary styles of tango. She embodies the feelings of tango in her vocals, and is able to communicate the expressive intensity of its profound lyrical themes. Every single tango is a 3-minute piece of Existential philosophy," Minetti explains. That's why tango lyricists have the status of cultural commentators and philosophers." When my grandfather wants to teach me life lessons," he recalls, he always quotes tango songs." Translations of tango lyrics will be provided as supertitles at the evening concerts, so audiences can appreciate their emotional depth and sensitivity.
Over the past several years, the featured musicians have performed together in various configurations, developing a deep rapport that will surely make the festival performances exceptionally sensitive, rich, and evocative.
When one thinks of tango, often the first image that comes to mind is of a graceful couple gliding passionately in unison across a dance floor as they perform the provocative array of elongated precise movements that comprise its repertoire. Fernanda Ghi and Guillermo Merlo, one of the most prominent couples in the world of Argentine tango, will embody the music at the festival, giving physical shape to its range of emotions -- from the profoundly tragic to the playfully comic.
In addition to the evening concerts, artists will also participate in an event called Food for the Soul: Talking Tango, Eating Tapas, open conversations between artists and with the audience revealing the intimate dynamics of tango performance, and one titled Music, Song, and Dance: Connecting the Dots, three consecutive workshops respectively on dance, music, and singing. These will be very different from your usual tango workshops where you just learn a few dance steps," Minetti explains. Through discussion and demonstration," he continues, artists will pinpoint the core of tango to touch the wound, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes." The Tango Talks feature a rare meeting between the academic and artistic tango communities. Moderated by Minetti and the festival artists, this event will provide participants with a mediated conversation about tango, offering an in-depth understanding of the linkages between the socio-cultural and performance sides of the genre.
Transforming a local Bloomington venue (the Lodge, 101 E. 6th St.) into an Argentine nightclub, after the main concerts, the festival will offer It Takes Two to Tango: Milonga and Wine Event, a chance for audiences to experience a milonga -- an informal social event in which tango takes place -- along with a taste of Malbec, an Argentine wine. After a DJ set of traditional and contemporary tango music, around midnight -- the zero hour -- Minetti's own ensemble, Tangamente, will take the stage. This seven-piece ensemble performs well-known classics of the genre as well as modern global adaptations of tango, which combine a range of personal influences. I am trying to see what I can do as a person who has lived in four different countries," Minetti remarks. His compositions infuse tango with an eclectic blend of Brazilian samba and choro, Uruguayan milonga and candombe, along with a touch of jazz and American popular music. There will be instructors onsite from 10-10:30 pm to provide informal coaching for those who would like to take their first tango steps!
Every detail of this festival has been meticulously crafted in order to create, a magical experience for the senses," says Minetti. More than performance needs to take place in the theatre," he continues, I have designed this event to produce a synergy between the performer and spectator. My goal is to touch the souls of the audience." Through the deep melancholic passion and cathartic introspection of the tango, festival patrons will come to see their surroundings with the renewed spirit that the mythical zero hour invites-feeling the world as tango.
Make the journey to the heart of tango.
Zero Hour Tango Fest (Bloomington, IN) 2010: Full Schedule
03/26/2010, Fri: Bloomington, IN: Registration @ The Lodge; 101 6th Street; Show: 9:00 am
03/26/2010, Fri: Bloomington, IN: Tango Talks: Food for the Soul: Talking Tango, Eating Tapas @ The Lodge; 101 6th Street; Tix: $27/35/40; Multi-Day Discounts Available; Show: 10 am
03/26/2010, Fri: Bloomington, IN: Tango Sensations Concert @ Buskirk-Chumley Theatre; 114 East Kirkwood Avenue; Tix: $20/22/25; Multi-Day Discounts Available; Show: 8 pm
03/26/2010, Fri: Bloomington, IN: Milongas (social dance): It Takes Two to Tango: Milonga and Wine Event @ The Lodge; 101 6th Street; Tix: $15/20/22; Multi-Day Discounts Available; Show: 10 pm
03/27/2010, Sat: Bloomington, IN: Milongas (social dance): It Takes Two to Tango: Milonga and Wine Event @ The Lodge; 101 6th Street; Tix: $15/20/22; Multi-Day Discounts Available; Show: 10 pm
03/27/2010, Sat: Bloomington, IN: Registration @ The Lodge; 101 6th Street; Show: 9 am
03/27/2010, Sat: Bloomington, IN: Workshop: Music, Song, and Dance: Connecting the Dots @ The Lodge; 101 6th Street; Tix: $57/65/75 includes all workshops; Show: 10 am
03/27/2010, Sat: Bloomington, IN: Tango Sensations Concert @ Buskirk-Chumley Theatre; 114 East Kirkwood Avenue; Tix: $20/22/25; Multi-Day Discounts Available; Show: 8 pm