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UN declares tango part of world cultural heritage

world Updated: Sep 30, 2009 14:57 IST

AFP
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The United Nations has declared the sultry tango dance steps of Argentina and Uruguay part of the world's "intangible cultural heritage", UNESCO said on Wednesday.

The United Nations cultural organisation is holding a meeting of 400 experts in the Gulf state of Abu Dhabi to agree on a list of world arts and traditions that should be safeguarded for humanity.

Developed in working class city dancehalls in the cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo, tango is a deep-rooted tradition of dance, poetry and singing that is seen worldwide as the symbol of Latin romantic passion.

Argentina and Uruguay jointly submitted the "symbolic universe" of tango for addition to UNESCO's list of cultural treasures. It was the first of 76 submissions examined and approved by the Abu Dhabi meeting.

Tango culture is intimately bound up with the history of the Rio de la Plata, which separates the two countries, and the melting pot of communities who settled in the river basin in the second half of the 19th century.

"Among this mix of European immigrants to the region, descendents of African slaves and the natives of the region known as criollos, a wide range of customs, beliefs and rituals were merged and transformed into a distinctive cultural identity," says a note on UNESCO's website.

"As one of the most recognizable embodiments of that identity, the music, dance and poetry of tango both embodies and encourages diversity and cultural dialogue."

Argentina's embassy in Abu Dhabi welcomed UNESCO decision's to declare "the deepest and most vibrant expression of Rio de la Plata" a global treasure.

"Tango conquered a long time ago a universal transcendance," it said in a statement.