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Compañia Tango Por Dos - 'Tangos -- a Legend'

What's new, Buenos Aires?

by Patrizia Vallone

March 26, 2004 -- Peocock Theatre, London

The Compañia Tango X2, considered Argentina’s best and most popular tango company, appeared in Rome last February with this new show, Tangos – A Legend. This work was first performed in Buenos Aires last September, under the title Tangos de la Cruz del Sur, and was a smash hit. The company toured Italy before appearing in London.

The history of the Compañia Tango X2 is closely linked to the career of its founder, Miguel Angel Zotto, an Argentine dancer of Italian descent who started out as a rock-and-roll dancer. After appearing with success in some tango shows, in 1988 Zotto got together with Milena Plebs and founded the company, with which he has since toured the entire world.

The Compañia is currently made up of Zotto, his partner Soledad Rivero and another six couples. The performance also features singers Elena Roger and Ricardo Marin, and a small orchestra conducted by pianist Andres Linetzky.

The work is in two parts and narrates the history of Argentina, as a land of immigrants, from the early 1900s to the end of the ‘90s (the story is by Zotto and Leonardo Napoli). The music reflects the years we see portrayed on the stage: in the first part we hear classical tangos (including some vintage recordings), and in the second mostly Piazzolla.

In the first scenes, we see couples dancing the tango in the slums of Buenos Aires, the arrival of the first European immigrants (almost all men), and girls forced by local gangsters to sell themselves in whorehouses. In the working-class district of La Boca, Italian immigrants enjoy a birthday feast. This simple but peaceable life will be swept away by the nightmare of the military dictatorship, with its crimes and police repression.

By the ‘50s, Buenos Aires has become a large city where we see workers and baker-women having fun and smootching. As we get closer to the present, rock-and-roll arrives and fashions change, but the military dictatorship looms on the horizon.

The second part of the show is a tribute to two great figures of contemporary Argentine culture – Astor Piazzolla and the poet Horacio Ferrer. We are shown a whole series of characters they created, and their stories, their sorrows and their good cheer.
The ingenious set, designed by Tito Egurza, is on two levels. The orchestra is enclosed by two walkways on which the performers can dance. The many quick changes of scene are done with projections of suggestive images of Buenos Aires at different points in time. The elegant costumes are by Maria Julia Bertotto.

The dancers are all very good. They have temperament, stage presence and, obviously, excellent leg-work. Having a live orchestra enables the audience to enjoy Piazzolla’s beautiful music in the best possible way. The show was practically sold out throughout its Rome run (and I expect everywhere else as well), and was an enormous success.

Edited by Mary Ellen Hunt.

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