Friday, February 6, 2015

Tango Buenos Aires

I'm a sucker for live tango (for filmed tango too, for that matter).  I can never get over the fact that they aren't accidentally kicking each other through the whole performance.  I constantly rue the fact that I am uncoordinated and could never learn to tango - I mean, really tango.

Dance St. Louis brought us, this past weekend, "direct from Buenos Aires, Argentina" Tango Buenos Aires performing "a journey through dance and music of the life of Eva Peron".   The live dance performance was accompanied by live music (always a joy) performed by an ensemble of pianist Fernando Marzon, bandoneon players Marco Antonio Fernandez and Emiliano Guerrero, violinist Mayumi Urgino and bassists Roberto Santocono and Sebastian Noya (there was only one bass in our performance and I don't know which one was playing).

Bandoneons are like accordians - the old fashioned kind - like what the Italian waiter plays in the famous spaghetti scene in Lady and the Tramp.  Some of the music was familiar and some was composed for the performance.  All of the musicians were wonderful but I particularly liked the violinist who had a couple of extensive solos that brought huge rounds of applause from the audience.

You'll notice that I'm speaking more of the music than the dance.  That's because the music in a way seemed the center of the evening.  The dancers sometimes (not always) seemed secondary.  

The "journey" was, of course, all in dance.  If I didn't already have an idea of the biography of Eva Peron (mostly from watching Evita) I probably would have been lost.  But it wouldn't have mattered because most of the dances could have stood alone without a story.  At the end of the first act the men perform Las Boleadoras - these are dances where each man holds an Argentinian tool used to catch cattle in the countryside in each of his hands - ropes with a weight at the end.  The men would swing the two ropes and make clacking noises on the ground with them.  The combination of dance and the rhythmic sounds of the ropes hitting the ground were compelling.  Then one of the men took center stage and performed on his own for a good 10 minutes without any accompaniment other than two box drums that the other dancers drummed.  At times he swung his ropes so fast that it was hard to believe that he wouldn't hit himself with the ropes.   The audience was wowed.

The second act also had some dances between various couples that were exquisitely done.  Strangely, the program never told us the names of the various dancers so I don't know who was who.  It seemed that the female dancers especially were of varying degrees of virtuosi, one of them seemed more of a beginner than the others.  Another was perfect, holding herself straight and haughty - the way you always picture tango dancers - her arms and hands casually elegant and her footwork impeccable.

Tango Buenos Aires has visited St. Louis a number of times previously.  I always enjoy them when I get a chance to see them.  I hope they come back the next time they tour.