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Published in U.S. 1 Newspaper on May 31, 2000. All rights
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
vocalist Barbara Wiesner accompanies the dancers onstage with soaring
improvised melody; other scenes are performed to such Argentine
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
School of Dance of Buenos Aires, performed and studied modern dance,
creative dance, and a panoply of Argentinean folk dances in the
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,
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
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
with Carolina Jaurena.
A native of Venezuela, Carolina’s earliest dance studies were in
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
and as guests at the Performing Arts Center of SUNY, Purchase, and
had a dance role in the 1999 Harrison Ford film, "Random
Attar’s husband, Ricardo Attar, on duty in the current show as
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
— Nicole Plett
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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