Performing Arts… And Everything In Between

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From a young age, I took particular interest in performing arts, participating in dance and theater and also attending theatrical, dance, and musical performances. Today, my interest is just as strong, if not stronger. I continue to be fascinated by the wide variety of performing arts not only from my own country, but also from around the world. 

expectations vs. reality

Before arriving in Buenos Aires, I had taken a Spanish class at my home university that explored music and culture in Central and South America. The class opened my eyes to the diversity of musical styles in these regions and how they have both influenced and been influenced by music from regions such as Africa, Europe, and the United States. Although I had taken this course on Latin American music and culture, my knowledge about performing arts in Buenos Aires was still limited. 

After living in Buenos Aires for almost 6 weeks, the reality of performing arts in the city has far exceeded my expectations. My time here has been filled with experiences that range from ballet and opera at Teatro Colón, to reggaeton and cumbia at boliches, to Caribbean and African style percussion at Ciudad Cultural Konex.

teatro colon and “classical” art forms

Teatro Colón is one of the most famous opera houses in the world, known for its spectacular acoustics. My experience at Teatro Colón was astonishing. The architecture of the theater, both inside and out, is beautiful and ornate. The colossal size of the theater is also impressive, as it seats more than 2,000 spectators. The ballet that I saw was one of the best I had ever seen. 

View from Upper-Left Balcony Inside Teatro Colon.

The ballet, called  La noche clásica y contemporánea (Classic and Contemporary Night), was a three-act performance. The first act being traditional ballet, then a more contemporary/modern style ballet, and finally a mixture of ballet and musical theater. In truth, I was not expecting to see such a performance at this theater. What I appreciated most was the combination of such different types of ballet to make a cohesive story. It was refreshing and intriguing to see such a unique combination of dance and performance styles in a classical theater like Teatro Colón. 

Dome on Ceiling of Teatro Colon (Used for Acoustics)

ciudad cultural de konex: 

One Monday night, a few of my friends and I went to a cultural center in Buenos Aires known as Ciudad Cultural Konex. There, we saw a performance by a percussion group called La Bomba del Tiempo. This experience was completely different than my experience at Teatro Colón, but equally as amazing. 

Group Members – La Bomba del Tiempo

The design/layout of the cultural center is smaller than Teatro Colón, but much more spacious. There is an open-air area with hammocks, abstract art and structures; there is a bar area; and there is an area that houses the performance stage. The performance itself was exhilarating. The center was filled with all kinds of people dancing, clapping, singing along. The performers played Caribbean-style percussion with a wide variety of instruments. They would often improvise and involve the audience in their performance. 

Open-Air Space at Ciudad Cultural Konex

performing arts for all 

After attending both of these performances and the different venues in which they took place, I find it fascinating how such a wide variety of art forms are able to coexist and thrive in the city. Art styles like opera, ballet, theater, and classical music performances have retained their value over centuries in Buenos Aires. At the same time, new art styles and performance spaces, such as La Bomba del Tiempo at Ciudad Cultural Konex, have emerged and have grown increasingly popular.

The same types of people that go to see a ballet or an opera at the Teatro Colón are the same kinds of people that go to see groups like La Bomba del Tiempo at the Ciudad Cultural Konex. This is because all types of performing arts are culturally significant to porteños and easily accessible to all types of audiences. Thus, allowing for both traditional and contemporary art forms to flourish among young and old, rich and poor, and everything in between.