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We are currently running a fundraising campaign to support our mission.

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Goal: To fund the Community Tango Orchestra Project in its work to preserve and develop the music and dance tradition of Argentine Tango.

A Community Tango Orchestra is a volunteer orchestra where amateur and professional musicians and tango lovers join together to recreate the dance music of tango’s golden era.

Argentine Tango: A 60-second history

Argentine Tango enjoys over a century of development as a social dance, a form of personal expression, and a collective cultural experience. The form flourished in the 30s-40s in Buenos Aires where dancers gathered by the thousands to dance every night to live music. The music of this period developed symbiotically with the dance, a magic of texture and timing provoking the expression and connection that the dance thrives on. 80 years later, recordings from this era continue to be musical foundation of the dance. The dance tradition all but died out in the 50s with repressive practices of a military regime and the growing popularity of Rock & Roll. Meanwhile, tango music continued its own evolution away from the dance hall to the degree that professional musicians in tango currently have very little connection to the dance tradition. In the late 1980’s tango as a social dance experienced a revival. In the decades following, tango dancing spread around the world (again) and as the dance community grows, there is once again the opportunity for the dance and music to live and develop together.

Challenges in preservation

Two substantial obstacles obstruct the development of this reunion. First, there are extremely few resources (scores, educational materials) for musicians interested in playing for dancers. Tango music arrangements in the style of the 30s and 40s are generally not commercially available, and creating/commissioning these arrangements is prohibitively costly and time consuming. Second, the dance economy is still too small to support full-size professional orchestras on a regular basis. To address these challenges, Ko-Arts (a 501c3 devoted to supporting community arts) developed, the idea of a community tango orchestra, a volunteer orchestra made up of dancers and dance enthusiasts that creates music in the style of tango’s Golden Era. (Here is a recording of one of the first incarnations of this project – the Orchesta Tipica Mundial performing Tigre Viejo at Salon Canning in Buenos Aires)


Berlin Community Tango Orchestra (click to view a video of the performance).


What progress has been made?

The project has met with tremendous support and success. In 2006, Ko-Arts began a project to create scores for dance orchestras and initiate and support community tango orchestras around the world, with the support of Tango Mercurio (a DC based 501c3 organization) and Project Tango (a 501c3 based in San Francisco), Ko-Arts has made freely available a small catalog of scores and transcriptions for use by community tango orchestras. Currently, there are tango orchestras in Washington DC, San Francisco, Boulder, Ashville, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, Hawaii, as well as Buenos Aires, Berlin, Bremin, Geiseltal, Totnes, Manchester, Cardiff, Utrecht and Nairobi that are using Ko-Arts’ materials to create music in the Community Orchestra model. In 2011, the project received support from Avid, makers in an industry standard musical notation software, Sibelius, allowing for more efficient collaboration in creating these materials. In most cases these orchestras were initiated in workshop weekends or extended residencies with the program’s founder, Korey Ireland. However, as the network expands, its no longer practical for Korey to visit each orchestra. It becomes necessary to create materials for orchestras to facilitate their own development, as well as continuing to expand the repertory offered to these groups.


Community orchestra rehearsal in Buenos Aires (in the living room! 2009)


How much cash do you need?

Our current fundraising goal is $3200. With this money we will:

  • make available transcriptions/arrangements of 5 additional tango dance hits
  • supplement existing repertory with additional parts, revisions/improvements based on the last years of rehearsals, and simplified parts for beginning bandoneon players.
  • create a website to make these resources more publically accessible, and allow us to better interface with those using the resources

Additional funding will make possible further goals:

  • to create educational resources for tango teachers and dancers to better appreciate the music;
  • tools to facilitate remote coaching and support for ensembles in areas without access to experienced tango musicians;
  • professional quality recordings of the repertory for use as a learning/teaching tool, as well as a source of copyright cleared tango music for other educational and artistic uses. (The cost of licensing commercially recorded tango music has been a prohibitive factor in creating and distributing educational material for tango dancers, there are several wonderful initiatives that never saw the light of day due to licensing costs).


Music class for dancers at Stanford University (using materials developed through the community orchestra project 2011).


Can I help without donating cash?

Amongst the urgent needs of the project is a new website; legal, accounting and fundraising support are also extremely useful. Helping us connect with tango teachers, musicians and organizers in your local neighborhood is also extremely helpful. This project benefits from broad involvement. Tango is a richly varied community and the talents, resources, and imaginations of this group are our greatest asset.


First meeting of the DC Community Orhcestra (2010)