The sounds of tango-loving Martians, empowering Latina stories and comical lyric twists, all in an exciting celebration of Hispanic culture.
On the night of Sept. 29, the Carnegie Room in the Hege Library was filled with tango tunes and a wide range of stories expressed through one encompassing genre of music.
The show was a part of the campus’s celebration Latinx Heritage Month, which occurs from September 15 to October 15. Hispanos Unidos de Guilford spearheaded coordinating these events, as a sponsor of the Tango Show.
The concert was performed by Lorena Guillen Tango Ensemble, a music group based in North Carolina that has performed all over the state and surrounding areas. Recently, they graced Guilford College with a powerful repertoire featuring pieces based on unique themes from the empowering stories of Latina immigrants to the theoretical presence of tango in a futuristic society on Mars.
The moving pieces at the show’s beginning paired delicate vocals with a resonating, vigorous background as part of the ensemble’s project “The Other Side of my Heart,” featuring the voices and journeys of immigrant Latina women woven directly into song lyrics. The collaborative collection included visual art and photography aids to the stories by Felipe Troncoso.
“Being a Latina immigrant myself, coming from Argentina, I have a unique experience on top of being an artist,” said Lorena Guillen, the ensemble director. “Knowing that there are so many experiences in living this journey of immigrating to a new place, so out of that came this idea of interviewing the group of women.”
“My personal favorite (part of the show) was the one with the ‘siempre hay un pelo en la sopa (or there is always a hair in my soup),’” said Savannah Crenshaw, an Early College junior and event attendee. “It was emotional to listen to the pieces of each woman’s story and everything they gained and all that they lost. Everyone seemed very immersed and moved by the music.”
At the premiere of the project in 2014, “magical things started to happen,” said Lorena. “There was one moment where one of (the women) during the interview was sharing some hardship. One of the other women who was in a better position said ‘you know, I want to meet this person to see if I can help.’”
Touching moments like this one have helped define the magic of expression through music.
“I believe music gathers us, unites us as human beings,” said Fernando Martinez, the ensemble’s percussionist. “It adds culture to the new generation— like tango is a very old music style, but not too known in this part of the world.”
“Celebrating our culture is especially important at Guilford,” said first-year student and active HUG member Kendra Guzmán. “The Latinx culture is not (one) many identify with, so it’s important for everyone’s voices to be heard.” A small portion of the College’s undergraduate population, or approximately five percent of the Guilford students, reports to be Hispanic or Latinx.
“I was kind of lost when I first came here,” said Guzmán, referring to before she learned about HUG from a friend. “Now HUG is my home away from home. HUG is definitely my family here.”
Organizations like HUG and celebrations such as the Tango Show have allowed for louder expression from the demographic fraction. A similar message about the importance of having voices heard and appreciated came at the beginning of the ensemble’s performance from the student president of HUG, Hector Suarez:
“We shouldn’t just be celebrating ourselves this month, we should be celebrating ourselves the whole year.”