Argentina in L.A.

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Argentina came to Los Angeles recently with the Fiesta Argentina de Tango a Chacarera at the Ford Amphitheatre, the delightful intimate outdoor setting nestled in the hills of Hollywood.

The evening of Aug. 19 represented many facets of the culture of Argentine music, from traditional folkloric music with the band Nativa and harpist Julio Montero to the romantic and passionate tango music with singer Esther Segovia and band Pasionalmente Tango. The Otero Dance Company added the visual component of the sensual dance.

While many are content with just listening to music, there are those who prefer the visual image of performance. While Nativa’s music, traditional Argentine songs and original compositions that reflect the folk songs and rhythms of their heritage was pleasant, after an hour it became a bit difficult to stay seated. However, the audience seemed pleased by the earthy well-performed music by the group.

What spiced up the evening was the dancing. Claudio Otero and his partner, Elizabeth, received the loudest applause for their well-timed, fast-paced choreography with some flashy tricks. Gloria Otero, who, along with her brother, founded the company, performed with a new partner that evening, Daniel Ponce, and perhaps was not able to show her dancing skills to the fullest degree, but it was obvious she is a well-trained, experienced dancer. Adding elegance and grace to the evening was guest dancer Orlando Paiva Jr., whose father is a legend in the tango dance world. Paiva carries on his father’s legacy with an elegant, smooth dancing style, which draws from the romance and passion of the music.

The band, with musicians Dino Durand, direction and guitar, Luis Alvarez on bandoneon, Pablo Medina on piano and Juan Carlos Portillo on upright bass, performed the tangos El Choclo, Felicia, the famous El Cumparsita and more to great applause as well.

Singer Segovia is prolific in her work here in Los Angeles, performing at benefits, smaller local venues and festivals. She has a strong, deep voice, but for many songs, the tempo and timbre of her voice sounded the same. However, with the songs “Malena” and especially “Pasional” her true talent and passion for the songs came through and impressed.

The Argentine folkloric band Nativa is composed of Los Angeles residents Julián Córdoba, vocals and guitar; Mónica Campins, vocals, guitar, charango and harmonica; Marcelo Raner, Spanish and electric lead guitar; Guillermo Bordarampé, electric bass; and guest musician Roberto Estigarribia playing the “bombo,” an Argentine instrument derived from old European military drums.