Even though lyricist Alfredo Le Pera declared that “Twenty years is nothing…” – the most significant phrase from his tango ‘Volver’ – to others, twenty years can also mean the birth, development and consolidation of a process or idea.
At least, that’s Natasha Poberaj, the current art director of the 2023 Tango BA Festival and World Championship, suggests during her interview with Perfil. Over the past two decades, the traditional dance and music festival has become one of the iconic cultural events in Buenos Aires.
The popular festival, which will see people dancing for 10 days, started on August 23 and finishes on Saturday, September 2. It’s been thrilling locals and tourists alike – as well as its organisers.
“Heading this Festival is extremely emotional for me. I’m one of those people whose life was deeply marked by tango,” said Poberaj in an interview conducted on the event’s first day.
“It represents a very important part of my life. Not only at a professional level, but also at a personal level, since I won the 2006 contest in the Salon Tango category while I was nearly seven months pregnant with my firstborn, Ciro, who today is 17 years old!”
The dancer smiles as she explains how “it’s impossible not to link the growth of my son with the Tango World Championship.”
As for the championship itself, Natasha explained that “we will celebrate twenty years of this contest by reaffirming our growth year after year – although the whole thing is 10 days long, with my team we work the whole year to make it happen.”
Poberaj notes that over 1,000 artists will take part in the competition at 30 venues. A total of 590 couples will compete – a record-breaking number – as well as special presentations. It’s a great responsibility, especially because it’s a genre that represents us as dancers and people linked to tango, several of us being cultural ambassadors.”
In this vein, Poberaj added that many of her friends are working with tango worldwide. “When this date arrives we have a chance to reunite because the Tango World Championship is a real party for all tango fans. Even though it’s a big annual celebration, this year is special because we mark two decades”, said the woman brought up with tango by her grandmother. “In my house tango was always very present, I consider myself a life-long tango enthusiast, but folklore was also an important part of my life since my mother was a teacher in the genre”, said Poberaj.
Following custom, the Tango World Championship will have two categories, Salon Tango, danced at milongas, and Stage Tango, for professionals. Yet this year, the Salon Tango section has added another sub-category, Senior Couple, for dancers over 55. Then there will be a final round with the best scores from the semi-finals of that class.
“It’s a new category, and it’s a kind of homage to those dancers who have been with us since the beginning,” said Poberaj.
Round-robins started on August 25 at Usina del Arte, the event’s main venue. Semi-finals took place on August 30 and 31, also at Usina del Arte.
Aside from the championship and festival, there are also free dance classes and shows, talks, exhibits and book presentations at venues across the capital. A cinema section will be of vital importance with a record 15 national and international productions on tango culture. Documentaries, fiction, shorts and music videos, which will have their worldwide premiere, mark more milestones for the 2023 festival.
* Schedule and tickets at buenosaires.gob.ar/tangoba and via the WhatsApp BOTI (the City’s virtual assistant, at 11 5050-0147).