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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 31, 2000. All rights

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E-mail: NicolePlett@princetoninfo.com

Tango’s Connections

Since dancer and teacher Liliana Attar left her home

in Argentina to settle in Princeton in 1989, she has built sturdy

ties to her adopted community. As a five-year volunteer for Parents

Anonymous, a dance teacher for HomeFront’s homeless children, for

troubled teens at the Middlesex County youth shelter, for children

of the Princeton Montessori Pre-School, the Jewish Community Center

at Ewing, a regular at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Dance Improv

sessions, a wife and mother of three, Attar supplies enough energy

to fuel her own small city.

So as she stood on the stage of Taplin Auditorium last month, before

a close to full house, portraying a bereft immigrant with nothing

but a battered suitcase and a passel of troublesome memories to her

name, you could feel the audience’s heart go out to her.

"Tango, Memories of an Immigrant," choreographed by Liliana

Attar and performed by Connections Dance Theater, a dance work with

poetry and music, will be reprised at the Rider University Student

Center in Lawrenceville, on Sunday, June 4, in a benefit performance

for Parents Anonymous.

Attar tells the immigrant’s story in 18 short scenes, many of them

introduced by the figure of memory who, swathed in layers of colored

tulle, recites the poetry of the song that is to follow. In some

scenes,

vocalist Barbara Wiesner accompanies the dancers onstage with soaring

improvised melody; other scenes are performed to such Argentine

classics

as Carlos Gardel’s recording of "Mi Buenos Aires Querida,"

as well as the music of Astor Piazzolla, Mercedes Sosa, Al DiMeola,

and even Itzhak Perlman.

Attar, who trained as both a dancer and a dance teacher at the

National

School of Dance of Buenos Aires, performed and studied modern dance,

creative dance, and a panoply of Argentinean folk dances in the

three-year

degree program. Now her seven-member ensemble, Connections, features

tango duo Francisco Forquera and Carolina Jaurena. The company also

includes Paul Cerna, Olga Klushina, Isabel Meyer, Sharon Savage,

vocalist

Barbara Wiesner, and guest dancer Irsema Rivero.

As an immigrant who arrived in the United States without any English,

dance has proved a universal language for Attar. She formed her group

in Princeton in 1998, with members coming from diverse ethnic and

professional backgrounds that include a computer consultant and

a librarian. The company gave its debut production, "Feeling

Tango,"

last year.

During her early years here, Attar began to immerse herself in the

music of 20th century composer, Astor Piazzolla, author of a new tango

that fueled by jazz traditions. His music, in turn, drew her to the

tango form, which she began to study, just two years ago, at Marjorie

Duryea’s Lawrenceville studio. The match was a natural one, for the

tango was born out of the immigrant experience in turn-of-the-century

Buenos Aires, the port city that became a magnet for immigrants from

Italy, Spain, Germany, and Eastern Europe. The dance form, a hybrid

of many national traditions, flourished in the poorest neighborhoods.

While taking the tango as an icon of Argentine culture and identity,

Attar has been rewarded by her association with an extraordinary young

professional dance duo, Francisco Forquera and Carolina Jaurena. In

"Memories of an Immigrant" they are featured in four set tango

pieces, each one a show-stopper.

Francisco was born in Mendoza, Argentina, where he began his training

with Ballet Folklorico de Juaymayen. In 1989 he joined the company,

performing for five years. He represented Argentina in the Festival

of Folkloric Dance in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, in 1993, and in 1996

came to the U.S. with Ballet Alejandra Dondines. During these years

he added flamenco dance, Spanish classical dance, and Argentine tango

to his repertory. In 1998, Francisco began to dance tango

professionally

with Carolina Jaurena.

A native of Venezuela, Carolina’s earliest dance studies were in

ballet.

But tango also began early; her father, a bandoneon musician, leads

his own tango orchestra, and her mother is a tango singer. Carolina

made her professional debut in 1997 in "Tango Mundo," and

the following year danced in "Blood Wedding," choreographed

by Martin Santangelo (of "Noche Flamenca").

Two years ago Francisco and Carolina made their professional tango

debut in the show "Tango and Tango" at the Thalia Spanish

Theater. They have also performed at Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln

Center

and as guests at the Performing Arts Center of SUNY, Purchase, and

had a dance role in the 1999 Harrison Ford film, "Random

Heart."

Attar’s husband, Ricardo Attar, on duty in the current show as

lighting

engineer, is both a musician and a molecular biologist working at

Bristol-Myers Squibb. He and Liliana met in Buenos Aires when both

were working in a children’s theater production; they are now parents

of three children. Liliana was recently hired to teach dance outreach

programs for the New Brunswick public schools.

"Tango is not just a dance, it tells you who the people are,"

says Attar. "We’re a melancholic people, a people who came from

far away, who were missing what they had lost."

In "Tango, Memories of an Immigrant," Attar and her close-knit

group of artists from around the globe continue to explore the sorrows

of leaving home — and celebrate the joys of building a new

community.

— Nicole Plett

Tango, Memories of an Immigrant, Connections Dance

Theater, Rider University Student Center, 609-243-9779. All proceeds

benefit Parents Anonymous; an Argentine wine tasting follows the show.

$20 single; $35 couple. Sunday, June 4, 3 p.m.


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