September 23, 2019
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Uruguay touts tango and other traditions in bid for UNESCO council seat

By Santiago Carbone

Montevideo, Sep 9 (efe-epa).- As part of its bid for a seat on the UNESCO Executive Council, Uruguay is taking to Paris a sample of its traditional music with a display of tango, candombe and folk dancing to be staged by a group of four dancers from the Artistic Training Schools of the Sodre auditorium.

"It's a great opportunity, a privilege that they've picked us. We're very proud of what we do and it also speaks to the quality level we have reached through our many years of work," Martin Inthamoussou, director general of the schools, told EFE.

Inthamoussou said the invitation to join the event was announced by the Direction of Cultural Affairs of the Foreign Relations Ministry, which asked his institute to prepare a show as a background to the South American country's application.

In that regard, Inthamoussou said it was "very clear" that whatever they did would have to represent Uruguay's identity, which is why they chose the tango and candombe, each named an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

"We also added the folk dance category, which we are also advocating to be recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Uruguay," Inthamoussou said.

About the dances, the director noted that the choice was made "thinking of an audience that is perhaps not very close" to Uruguay.

"What we put on display must interest that very diverse audience," Inthamoussou said.

After their UNESCO show, the four youths will give another exhibition at the embassy of their country in France for the Uruguayans living there, something that Inthamoussou described as "very beautiful."

"This approach to the diaspora is very beautiful, because there are people that haven't been here for a long time but are still full of memories and emotional ties. When our young people dance the dances, it will bring the audience a little closer to Uruguay," Inthamoussou said.

Finally, the director said that the dancers taking part in this event were chosen "by means of an audition of students, in which great importance was given to the institution's teaching."

The chosen ones were Kevin Cal, 26, a metalworker; Camila Roche, 24, dance instructor; Ivan Basan, 26, software tester; and Deborah Menciones, 29, dancer.

Basan told EFE that their upcoming trip "is very important" because they have a "tremendous commitment" to representing their country."

He also said that on the day of the audition they gave their all to be chosen from a group of students "who dance very well."

Rocha, for her part, added that what they are doing "is an incredible experience."

"We're still not perfectly ready, but we're very happy and working hard at doing our best," Rocha said.

Among the numbers the Uruguayans will dance is "La Cumparsita," a tango to be interpreted by the four.

That tango premiered on April 19, 1917, at Montevideo's La Giralda candy store, one of the city's most emblematic buildings.

The composition by Uruguay's Gerardo Hernan Matos Rodriguez in 1997 was declared a Cultural and Popular Anthem of the South American country by the National Assembly, the Uruguayan legislature made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

For Rocha, dancing to that rhythm will be "an enormous responsibility" and even more so doing it in front of an audience at UNESCO. However, she said, doing what she likes best, which is dancing, and doing it "to represent the schools," will be "an incredible opportunity."

"When it comes time, what we have to do is enjoy ourselves and try to communicate all that we feel when we're dancing," Rocha said.

The Uruguayan delegation will make its artistic presentation this Wednesday and Thursday in France, where it traveled this Monday. EFE-EPA scr/cd

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