As October’s chill descended upon Florida State College at Jacksonville, an Argentine tango company ignited the school with South American heat. The First Tango Ballet of Bahia Blanca in Argentina performed traditional tango music and dances at the South Campus Monday, Oct. 6. It’s the latest connection between Jacksonville and Bahia Blanca, which joined in the Sister Cities program in 1967. The program, begun in 1956 under the administration of Dwight Eisenhower, encourages cultural understanding and global harmony.“If you twin cities throughout the world, they have exchanges, they meet each other, they start understanding each other, and that promotes peace,” said Diane Trifiletti, former Chairwoman of the Jacksonville Sister Cities Association’s Bahia Blanca committee.
Founded by Sergio and Adriana Katz, the dance group first came to Jacksonville in 1995 and performed at the World of Nations. Following that successful trip, Trifiletti said the performances have continued annually–except for 2001.
“Tango in Argentina is very important, It’s a part of the culture of the people,” said David Roldán, singer.
After a stirring exhibition of song and dance in the cafeteria, the performers spoke with students in Professor Luz Font’s Spanish class. The event highlighted the tango and its related folklore style, regarded as symbols of Argentina around the world. “The tango is a very passionate dance. It started in Buenos Aires, which was kind of a melting pot because they had people coming in from all different cultures,” said Trifiletti. The performance was particularly opportune because of the current interest in dance. “With Dancing with the Stars, I think more people have seen tangos than in the past,” said Trifiletti.
The performance also provided a valuable cultural enrichment opportunity for dozens of students who eagerly looked on. “It’s important for us to broaden our horizons and see the history and culture from other places,” said Trifiletti.
Roldán savored the chance to bring a slice of Argentine life to an American audience. “I like it because I have the possibility to explain it,” Roldán said. “In general, the people love tango.”