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Vernon Hills native giving area a taste of Tango
By Lee Litas | Columnist
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Published: 6/24/2008 12:06 AM

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George Bernard Shaw once referred to dancing as a "vertical expression of a horizontal desire legalized by music." Over time, this provocative expression has become synonymous with one dance in particular, the Tango.

On July 3-7, lovers of the dance, and those simply curious to learn more, can get a taste of the melancholy of the bandoneon (special accordion used for Tango), the impassioned, soaring chords and languid rhythms of the defiant piano, viola, violin and contrabass showcased at their highest caliber with the aid of the internationally-acclaimed Parisian orchestra, TanguA­simo, which will be making a rare appearance virtually in our back yard when they headline the third annual Chicago Tango Week 2008.

The five-member ensemble and their lead singer, Jose Luis Barreto, whose voice has been called both sensual and penetrating, has received standing ovations he world over and reviews are coming in raves. Le Journal Ouest-France, a provincial daily French newspaper, called it: "A real spectacle that is too swiftly gone, like the best of dreams [which] will take you on a journey of sensuality, elegance, and seduction from Paris into the heart of Buenos Aires."

Vernon Hills native, Lily Bronfeyn, helped to organize the events of Chicago Tango Week, including TanguA­simo's appearance.

"Some [city] people think that the suburbs are a cultural void and I beg to differ. The Chicago North Shore has some of the best concerts, chamber music and events in the country, and this is just another example. We are thrilled to be bringing this eclectic mix of a European orchestra with South American sensuality to the people of Chicago," said Bronfeyn.

Adding a visual dimension to Tanguisimo's sound will be tango masters from the "Forever Tango" Broadway shown acclaim who will be performing the traditional Argentine tango, the romantic tango waltz, and the saucier "quick step" version of the tango, called the "milonga," at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts in Skokie.

"Since the beginning, our orchestra has set out on a musical journey in search of new horizons. I am extremely excited to come to Chicago for the first time to debut our show 'Paris-Buenos Aires' so we can share our compositions and music with new audiences," said TanguA­simo's founder and manager, Ludovic Michel, an award-winning guitarist and viola player in his own right.

Tanguisimo's shows will serve to heighten the excitement already surrounding the Chicago Tango Week 2008, a five-day dance and music festival which will also be offering intensive instruction and workshops for all levels of tango taught by the world-class performers.

CTW 2008 will kick off with TanguA­simo doing a set on July 3 at Chicago's SummerDance, considered the largest outdoor urban dance space in the United States taking place in the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park. Over 250 tango lovers from all over the United States, Canada and Argentina are expected to be part of the Argentine Tango floor alone; one of 43 featured dance floors and bands that will showcase everything from swing and salsa, to afrobeat and funk.

"This is a special opportunity for audiences to experience the heart and soul of the tango. The particular sound that tango music possesses is what drives us to play and compose, what inspires Jose Luis Barreto to sing, and what arouses the dancers to improvise," said Michel.

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Lee A. Litas can be reached at