University of Eastern Illinois students can dance their way into Latin Heritage Month by attending Irene Jacobsen’s talk, “The Tango According to Astor Piazzolla.”
The lecture will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in room 1120 of Coleman Hall.
Jacobsen, a foreign languages professor, will be showing how musician Astor Piazzolla changed the way the tango was perceived and other personal achievements.
While she could have chose musicians like Carlos Gardel, Aníbal Troilo or Tita Merello, Jacobsen said she liked Piazzolla’s story the best.
“In 1987, I saw Astor Piazzolla in concert in Montreal. I asked him for an autograph, which I will show during my talk on Monday,” said Jacobsen.
Jacobsen said she admires his courage to be different, and to do what he knew he wanted to do in his heart, and added he has taught her to always follow her dreams.
Piazzolla was born in Argentina in 1921. He became a musician and traveled around the world including to the United States in the 1920s and 1930s.
In 1954, Piazzolla was in Paris being classically trained in the piano, before passing away in 1992.
“Piazzolla was above all an innovator,” Jacobsen said. “He redefined what others had been doing for decades. He didn´t care for lyrics, or for dancing,”
She added Piazzolla thought the tango could be enjoyed solely for the music.
Enrique Santos Discépolo, a 1930s lyricist, described the tango as, “A sad thought you can dance to,” Jacobsen said.
Jacobsen also mentioned students need to keep an open mind about tango.
“All tangos have not been created equal. There are instrumental tangos, tango-songs, and tangos for listening only,” she said.
Cecilia Smith, the Ballroom Dance Society president, agreed with Jacobsen.
“There’s a difference between Argentinian tango and American tango,” she added. “It’s part of their heritage.”
The society will be offering free lessons during Latin Heritage Month as well.
Smith said to her the dance itself is more important, because she is not musically talented. When teaching dances she wants to get the steps right and explain them in a way that a variety of skills can learn from. One aspect that is different about the tango from other ballroom dances is that it is dances in a counter-clockwise fashion.
Jacobsen said she remembers her mother quoting tango songs.
One phrase was “es un soplo la vida; veinte años no es nada,” which translates to, “Life is but a breath; twenty years are nothing.”
“Being Argentine, I grew up listening to my parents’ tango collection on vinyl records,” Jacobsen said.
By Emily McInerney, Staff Reporter at The Daily Eastern News