Dancing La Cumparsita with Frida

The Fellowship  |  February 4, 2019

Close up image of two pairs of hands embracing each other.
Dancing La Cumparsita with Frida

Sergey Kanovich, Vilnius born poet and essayist, shares what it was like to dance with Frida, a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor and one of the survivors he met on his journey to interview, retell, and preserve Holocaust stories from the Lithuanian Jewish community.

“Let’s dance,” she said, and softly embraced me.

Ta-ta-ta-ta, tarim-tararam-ta-ta-ta-ta, the old orchestra played. My whole life I dreamt of learning to tango, lordy, my whole life.

I danced with Frida.

We turned slowly, and I felt I wasn’t dancing with her, I was dancing with all of her memories, I was dancing, embracing not her – I was embracing her wedding, when secretly, from the Soviets, the rabbi blessed them both, I was dancing with her murdered grandfather, with the well from which she drew water for the Shabbes tea, I was dancing not with an elderly and attractive woman, but with her husband, hurrying to her in Germany after four years of not knowing what happened to her and her not knowing what happened to Shlomo, I was dancing with Shlomo who was going to Šiauliai, where he had returned from Dachau to wait for his wife, with her husband who, after coming back to Lithuania in 1947 was wondering if Frida was alive …

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