World Arts West
SF Ethnic Dance Festival


Navarrete x Kajiyama Dance Theater

First Appearance in SF EDF:

Navarrete x Kajiyama creates interdisciplinary performance works using movement, theater, art installation, multimedia, and site-specific environments. Their work has been influenced by ritual, cultural studies, and political and environmental concerns of the world in which we live. NAKA’s vocabulary has been enriched by studies of Japanese taiko drumming, Latin American social dances, and the cultural significance of these communitybuilding art forms. Their primary master tango teacher is San Francisco’s Nora Dinzelbacher, originally from Argentina.


Navarrete X KajiyamaTITLE: Amorando
DANCERS: Debby Kajiyama and José Navarrete

Amorando is an Argentine tango. The form is usually improvised, but has been choreographed for this stage. This moving and authentic performance shows why the tango is beloved in diverse communities around the world. It is a dance of intimacy, beauty, melancholy, longing, struggle, love, and passion. In tango, the dancers must pay absolute attention to another human being. Absorbed and self-contained, the couple moves as one, finding joy and epiphany in the moment.

Tango’s 2/4 rhythms and elegant movements have been traced to the habanera through the syncopated Argentine milonga (possibly influenced by polka). The roots of tango are also linked to Afro-Uruguay candombe ceremonies, French Cuban contradanza, Andalucian tango, Spanish ballroom dance, Spanish American payada ballads, and 1930s Congolese sukous (related to the rumba). The melancholy of the dance is said to come from the difficult lives of its early practitioners, many of whom danced “just to keep going.” In the late 1800s booming port of Buenos Aires, thousands of poverty-stricken porteñ—European immigrants and displaced Africans—crowded together. Tango now highlights distinct gender roles, but in a town with few women, its original couples were mostly male. As street organs played catchy 2/4 beats, men improvised steps in crowded houses and in the streets, a dancer holds his partner’s right hand in his left. The names of tango songs evoke decades of lively porteño culture: “Guy With a Wiry Build”, “Let’s Chat”, “Give Me My Pay”, “Store for Stolen Goods”, “Goodbye to My Father”, “Joe Who Carries Knives”, and “Beware the 1950s.”

In the early twentieth century, tango became popular in Europe and the U.S. The song “Amorando” is by Osvaldo Pugliese from the Golden Age of Tango (1935-1952). The music features bandoneon (tango’s instrument of melancholy) violin, piano, and double bass. The piece was choreographed by Jose Navarrete and Debby Kajiyama in 2008.

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