Monday, August 9, 2010
Viter in Buenos Aires
We arrived in Buenos Aires safely after a long night of flying and many, many movies! We were greeted at the airport by Sergio Maciura from Dnipro Gold. It was greatl to finally meet this wonderful man who has planned all of our tour and who we have spent so many months conversing only on email . We were also greeted by various members of the Ukrainian Community in Buenos Aires. There was much excitement from the community for our arrival to Argentina because there has not been a Ukrainian dance company perform in their city for 20 years.
We arrived at the Hotel Grand King which was situated right in the heart of the downtown area. The location was perfect and we were walking distance to all the shops, restaurants, street vendors and “Tango” demonstrations. It was very exciting to walk out of our hotel door, hear the sound of Tango music playing and see the many sexy Tango dancers demonstrating their amazing talents. The street artists displayed their artwork with romantic city scenes and sultry tango paintings. There were many opportunities to have your photo taken with costumed dancers, which many of our group took full advantage of.
Our first meal in Buenos Aires was at a beautiful restaurant called, La Bisteca.
We had our first sample of the Argentine Malbec wine and tasted the wonderful barbq that Argentina is so well known for. The dinner was set up to offer many buffet choices including specialty bars for pasta, bar-bq and pizza made in a clay oven. We gorged on much meat!!! Many members from the Ukrainian community joined us for dinner and we got time to visit and get to know each other.
August 7, 2010
We departed for a 4-hour city tour of Buenos Aires. Highlites included the Pink Palace where Eva Peron greeted her adoring public. We saw a beautiful, lavish church called the Metropolitan Cathedral. Catholicism is a very important faith in this part of the world. We had an opportunity to visit the Boca district, which is where the immigrants first came to this city and made their homes. We went to a local street market and had some time to browse the various arts and crafts. We bypassed the poorest district of the city and witnessed truly how poor people really do survive. An eye opening experience.
Demonstrations are very popular in Buenos Aires, and during our tour we saw thousands of motor bikes drive past…not sure what it was all about, but it literally stopped all of us to watch the spectacle. We went to see the famous “Flower” a architectural landmark in the city. We drove through the rich area of the city and saw where all the embassies are located, then some of us went to visit the graveyard. This graveyard was full of beautiful stunning crypts that were so lavish and opulent….a site that we will never forget. Can’t believe that someone would spend this kind of money. Eva Peron (Evita) is also in this cemetery. They had just celebrated the anniversary of her death and there were flowers everywhere.
We had some time for shopping then went to a Tango Show at Sabor de Tango. Firstly, we all had to participate in Tango Lessons (Tangle Lessons). (Much more fun than the recent Sabor in Winnipeg!) After we all became Tango experts we were treated to a dinner and a spectacular show. We witnessed the most authentic, passionate, tango performance which also featured Argentinian folk dancing and musicians….INCREDIBLE, BREATHTAKING, SPECTACULAR! It so exceeded our expectations. So many standing ovations. The choir serenaded the audience and performers after the show and had a show of our own…to show our gratitude…we sang for our supper. The lead dancer and our tango instructor requested tickets to our show the next night. Need to mention that we enjoyed consuming more Argentine Malbec.
Back to the hotel and off to bed for the show the next day.
August 8, 2010
Showtime! Off to the theatre for set up and rehearsal for our first performance in South America. We performed at Theatre ND Ateneo, a 750 seat theatre that was very old but very intimate. What fun…Johnnie and Les had to work with the theatre crew and translate our show from English to Ukrainian to Spanish in order to get sound and lights working for what we needed. An exhausting day, but a smooth running show.
THE SHOW…we had a good show, not perfect in any means but the reception was absolutely overwhelming. We truly felt like we were performing somewhere’s in Ukraine until they starting chatting the Olé (South American Soccer Chant) and included Viter’s name as they chanted. We all started crying and laughing! It was a huge honour to have had this kind of reception and put in the same league as their football team. They loved the show and they loved the format of the interaction of the song and dance. When the curtain came down (well not really a curtain) and the applause finally settled down, they presented us with many greetings, accolades, speeches, introductions and genuine appreciation and gratitude. Many more tears.
We quickly packed up and dropped off our costumes back at the hotel, we then proceeded to a reception hosted by Prosvita at their Ukrainian Cultural Centre. As we walked in the doors of the hall, we were honoured by a presentation of traditional bread and salt. The woman from the Ukrainian Association had prepared a meal of varenyky and empanadas. It was a true cultural mix of the familiar Ukrainian cuisine and fantastic Argentine cuisine. More Malbec!
A presentation was made by the group with a Bandura and choral group. They then invited Viter to join them on the stage and sing traditional folk songs. A few more presentations were made and they presented us with memorable gifts, the entire group! A sing song began, followed by a kolomeyka, accompanied by the Viter musicians plus the bandurist from Prosvita. The Kolomeyka lasted until fingers were bloody and many blisters were formed. WHAT AN INCREDIBLY SPECIAL NIGHT, we shared with our new Argentine family and made new life long friends. It was very hard to break up the celebration but we needed to head back to the hotel to pack up for Brazil.
We have just arrived in Iguassu Falls, we will update again at the end of this next experience.