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The vertical expression of a horizontal desire

El Tango en Africa at the Villa Pascal Sunday soirée, Durbanville
Featuring Stanislav Anguelov and The Cape Town Tango Ensemble
Sunday, 27 June 2004

Roshan Sewpersad

Tango. The word conjures up sensual images of darkened ballrooms, hypnotic rhythms, the passionate sound of a bandoneon, and the dancers. Tango. At the first sound, feet start tapping involuntarily, bodies sway enticingly.

Tango was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and evolved in the barrios, bordellos and, eventually, ballrooms of Europe and New York. And now the authentic sound has travelled to Durbanville.

Villa Pascal, home of Daniele Pascal, is the venue for a series of warming, intimate soirées perfectly suited to these winter evenings. It was the turn of Stanislav Anguelov and The Cape Town Tango Ensemble this Sunday.

The musicians traced the evolution of the tango in a stirring performance comprising a selection of masterworks, from the vals, to milongas to Piazzola and the Nuevo movement.

The quartet, featuring double bass, piano, violin, accordion and bandoneon, is very much a traditional configuration, popularised early in the development of the tango. In the early 1900s, depressing years in the history of Buenos Aires, Tango arose, blending the multiple cultures of the immigrants: Andalusians, Italians, Creole "milongas", former African slaves and Jews.

Brothels were an integral part of the social life in Buenos Aires, and the dance served as foreplay for amorous liaisons. It was not unusual to see pairs of young men dancing the tango arm in arm, as men outnumbered women by 10 to 1.

Recordings crossed the Atlantic to Paris and were instantly popular. Soon Europe was strutting and swaying to the sound of Tango.

The bandoneon, or "button box", defines the sound of the Argentinean Tango. Stanislav, having picked up the instrument only ten months ago, impressed the guests with his versatility.

As the tango was reimported to Argentina from its success and evolution abroad, the elite of Argentina was newly impressed by its charms. Astor Piazzola, the most significant evolutionist, took the tango into the realm of the concert hall and jazz club. So notable is his influence that the history of Tango is divided into Before and After Piazzola.

The quartet gave a generous taste of Piazzola, playing some of his important and recognisable works with great artistry.

In homage to our Gallic hostess, some French works were also included.

Altogether this was a captivating and transporting evening, and one looks forward to many more.

Forthcoming attractions at Villa Pascal include a musical celebration of Bastille Day, 11 July, featuring Daniele Pascal and friends; Christmas in July, "Fun Pink Shows on White Nights", featuring cabaret to Oscar Wilde; open mike sessions on Friday nights and a Diva's Weekend celebrating Women's Day.

These are well worth a visit and should be supported.

Phone 021-9752566 or 0825694147 to book.

LitNet: 15 July 2004

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