News / Arts & Entertainment

Yiddish Tango Reflects Jewish Life in Argentina

Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tangoi
X
August 25, 2014 2:58 PM
Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.
Elizabeth Lee

For most people, tango evokes a passionate dance form.  

For Argentine-born Gustavo Bulgach, tango is music with an attitude.  

“Tango means the blues. Tango is not just tango - it means - it’s an attitude that you want to express," he said. "In every language, in Yiddish, in Spanish - in whatever language - Tango represents that kind of attitude of losing or having your heart broken by life.”

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that was eventually mixed with Argentine tango.  

Fusion of melodies, culture

The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today.  

Bulgach is the band leader of the Yiddish Tango Club, a group that fuses a form of Jewish dance music known as "klezmer" with Argentine tango.  

“Tango is not only Argentinian. It’s a loop from Europe also. It’s like something dramatic, and it’s the count…maybe one, two, three,” says vocalist Divina Gloria.

The band pays tribute to the music of the Jewish immigrants in Argentina.  Bulgach is Jewish, and his family emigrated to Argentina from Russia.  Jewish vocalist Divina Gloria’s family came from Poland.  Yiddish tango evokes memories of her own childhood in Argentina.

 “It’s makes me come to my early years, and reminds me of my family  It’s emotional but it makes me very happy,” Gloria said.

Tango music developed in the slums of Buenos Aires.  Some scholars believe tango has African origins. Others say tango music is a fusion of the various sounds of the European immigrants.  Jews, like other old-world immigrants to Argentina brought their own music with them to the new world.

“Tango is by the history of music not an Argentine rhythm.  Tango comes from Russia, from Poland, from Germany.  It was and still is a dance beat," Bulgach said. "In the beginning, they brought it with them and they fused that with what the locals knew at a very early stage.”

Yiddish tango still evolving

The result is Yiddish tango.

“The Yiddish tango evolved in a way that, in the beginning, it was just in Yiddish, and later on they mix with some Spanish words," Bulgach said.

And it is still evolving, thanks to technology.  Seven musicians can sound like 20 on stage.

Many in the audience are Jewish, and some of the music is familiar to them.  For others who are not Jewish, they come for the dancing.

“I was interested in tango dancing. I danced tango and I like klezmer music, so it’s a combination of both," said one woman at a recent concert.

Bulgach says while elements of  Yiddish tango will continue stay true to its roots - much as its Argentine counterpart has - it will also evolve as musicians experiment and incorporate other cultures into this old art form.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Soul Lounge

"Soul Lounge" host Shawna Renee catches up with soul singer and songwriter Russell Taylor to hear what he’s been up to since winning the VH1 "You Oughta Know" title in 2013. She also convinces him to share a few songs from his album "War of Hearts."