Tango iconoclast Astor Piazzolla is dancing his way from Argentina to New Orleans, posthumously. The father of Nuevo Tango, a spicy subgenre of the famously sensual dance music, may have passed away 26 years ago, but his music lives on in a new theatrical concert: “That’s Not Tango- Astor Piazzolla, A Life In Music.” The production is coming to town for two days of performances as apart of Loyola University’s “Loyola Presents” music series October 26-27.
The concert was conceived by Lesley Karsten and written by Karsten and Stephen Wadsworth. The New York Times posted a feature of the production after its release in 2016, praising its “sophisticated concert music bursting with erotic energy.” “That’s Not Tango” plays around with social norms and narratives surrounding the genre, taking a gender-bending twist in choosing a woman to play Piazzolla. “Lesley’s work as Piazzolla moves quickly beyond gender into the androgyny of the soul”, says Wadsworth.” “A woman in a persona so conventionally masculine, and whose music has a bald assertiveness and violence many associate with maleness, is very tango. Piazzolla was fascinated by the quick-change animus-anima exchanges between men and women dancing tango.”
Piazzolla was born in Argentina in 1921, back when the tango was still confined to the dancehall. He grew up between Argentina and New York surrounded by a range of musical influences, from Bach to Rachmaninov to bandoneon-centered tango music. As a teenager, he moved to Buenos Aires to play in tango orchestras and later formed his own, the Orchestra Tipica. He developed what came to be known the Nuevo Tango style, a hybrid-genre of traditional tango with classical and jazz music. In the 70s and 80s, he led bands and symphonies who embarked on worldwide tours. Piazzolla globalized tango, bringing it out of the Buenos Aires dancehalls and into the world’s concert halls. He remains today the most well-known and influential among Argentina’s tango revolutionaries.
Performances of “That’s Not Tango” will commence at Loyola’s Nunemaker Hall on October 26 and 27 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 with VIPs going for $45. Admission is $10 for students and free for Loyola students. Tickets can be purchased at the Box Office, open Tuesday through Friday 1-5 p.m. in the Communications/Music Complex at the corner of Calhoun and St. Charles.