Buenos Aires: Argentina’s annual Tango World Championships gets underway on Wednesday, but instead of hundreds of dancers competing in an arena in Buenos Aires, the pandemic means participants are competing virtually.
Coronavirus restrictions in the South American country, which reported a record daily 8,713 cases Monday, mean the judges have to rely solely on videos sent in by participants — angering tango purists.
The Buenos Aires city council decided to go ahead with the annual event even though much of the city — including its famous milongas, or dance venues — is shut down.
“We are betting on a tango festival that adapts to the situation we are going through because of the pandemic. Different, but with the same vigour as in previous years,” the city’s head of culture, Enrique Avogadro, said.
The organisers will also allow individual competitors for the first time.
The jury will sift through videos to select a shortlist, which will then be submitted to a public vote via social media. “Recording a video that you can edit is not the same thing as dancing on stage in front of a jury,” said Virginia Vasconi, a choreographer and regular member of the jury.
Nor does she back the idea of dancers being allowed to compete individually — taboo for a dance intended for couples.
In Buenos Aires, where rehearsal rooms are still closed because of the lockdown and choreographers and students can’t get together to practice, local dancers feel at a disadvantage compared to participants from other countries where there are fewer restrictions. The World Tango competition and the accompanying festival are normally an opportunity for Argentina’s tango dancing community to work. However, the online version leaves hundreds of Argentine dancers on the sidelines, who are calling for state aid to offset their losses.