Yiddish Tango Wows Ashkenaz Audience

It’s a fairly exotic blend, but it works. Add a dollop of tango to a mix of Yiddish and you’re ready to rock.

It would seem virtually impossible to integrate tango, that seductive dance style from Argentina, with Yiddish song classics from eastern Europe.

On reflection, however, they’re compatible, since both are soulful and brimming with vitality.

Zully Goldfarb, a singer from Buenos Aires with a strong, clear voice and a pleasant stage manner, magically fused these diverse art forms in a tour de force of alchemy at the Ashkenaz Festival of New Yiddish Culture last week.

In “An Evening of Yiddish Tango,” Goldfarb, accompanied by three musicians and Toronto-based tango dancers Roxana and Fabian, wowed an audience, bringing it to its feet in a tangible expression of appreciation after she finished the last of her captivating songs.

Roxana and Fabian, a couple originally from Argentina, got things started and set the tone with an enticing tango number.

Fabian, clad in a black tuxedo with his jet black hair slicked back in 1930s Hollywood fashion, swept up Roxana, a suggestive slit in her dress, after a few stylized turns on the floor.

Goldfarb, her long golden red tresses trailing down her gown, belted out a medley of nostalgic Yiddish favourites from Neshomele to Oign and Latin standards such as Los Mareados and Por Una Cabeza, always prolonging the sharp, distinctive Argentine Spanish “Rs.”

Then, in a rousing demonstration of musical excellence, Pablo Saclis on the piano, Omar Massa on the bandoneon and Joseph Phillips on the contrabass delivered a rendition of pure, throbbing tango.

Roxana and Fabian returned for an encore, their movements fluid and sensual in a whir of close encounters, entwined legs and faux kisses.

Goldfarb, singing her heart out in Yiddish and Spanish, ended her performance with a hit parade of classics that included Papirosen, Balada Para Un Loco and Yiddishe Mama.

The encounter between Yiddish and tango certainly left an impression.

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