Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango

Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango

“The tango is made up of three sadnesses, three memories,” said the pianist Juan Carlos Caceres in the new film, ‘Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango’.

“The immigrants’ sadness. The gaucho’s sadness, people who lived in the country. And finally the Blacks’ sadness, who didn’t come here as immigrants, but who were brought here, leaving their lives in Africa.”

Angolan filmmaker Dom Pedro was inspired to make the docu-film after watching Cameroon beat Argentina in the Soccer World Cup in 1990 during which he noticed a distinct lack of black soccer players in the Latin American teams except for Argentina and Chile. Later he met Juan Carlos who was very interested in the introduction of drums in tango and the film was born from their conversations and collaboration.

Juan Carlos Caceres was a highly respected Argentinian pianist and Tango enthusiast and composed much of the music for the film and also wrote the accompanying book, ‘Tango Negro’. Unfortunately, he died of cancer earlier this year.

Tango Negro: The African Roots of Tango shines a light on the importance of African culture upon the Argentinian dance and music. It argues that in fact, the internationally popular dance, which is one of Argentina’s most profitable and respected exports, stems from a vivid African history – a claim which is largely unknown and often ignored by those that do.

The film shows how the earliest versions of the dance were expressions of the social life of captured African slaves brought to latin America. Viewers are treated to expansive compilation of musical footage, both performances and interviews from tango enthusiasts and historians.

Tango Negro will started a one-week theatrical run from Friday, 14 August, in New York City (MIST Harlem) and Chicago (Facets Cinematheque). The film will also be screened at the 9th Annual African Diaspora International Film Festival on 23 Aug. in Washington, DC.

For more information on upcoming Tango Negro screenings, visit the film’s website here. Planetfem really hopes this film crosses the oceans to Europe. It’s a lesson we all need to learn and appreciate.

photo credit: Troango Neg

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