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Tango por Dos - 'Una Nocha De Tangos'

by Stuart Sweeney

April 2000 -- London

Today I went to see "Una Nocha De Tangos" by the Argentine company Tango por Dos and it was a real treat. This is the third time that I have seen this company and this show is their best to date. The last outing suffered the misfortune of the two leads falling out a month before the opening in London and some hasty last minute subs had to be brought in that were not in the same class.

This time everything went to plan and the dancers were uniformly good with some exceptional. If you haven't seen Argentine Tango do go and see it some time - it really is a daredevil display with life, limb and much else out at risk in the vicious kicks and forward and backward flicks cutting the air, usually at break neck speed, making the area from the waist down a serious health hazard zone.

The problem with these shows is how to keep our interest as we see a variety of the different dances that make up the Tango and Milonga family, with a bit of singing and a few instrumentals thrown in. Here, in the first half we have a setting in a Buenos Aires Milonga Bar with more traditional dance with some character development and some nice humour to show that the dancers are not taking themselves too seriously, although the Tango itself is always taken very seriously. In the second half we move to a glamorous art-deco night club with the performers wearing exquisite black and white evening wear, and we see the more modern interpretations of the form -- more dramatic with higher kicks and swings.

The company leader, Miguel Angel Zotto is a hell of a dancer, although here he was sometimes putting in lots of little embellishing steps that were very clever in their way, but seemed to detract rather than enhance the overall effect. Nevertheless, his lightness of step was enough to make you believe he could walk on water. His partner for most of the evening, Mora Godoy, is ballet trained, as are an increasing number of the women in these shows. She danced with flair and precision throughout. I have to say that the one who stole my heart was Erica Boaglio, a Simone Simon look-alike. She made it all look so easy with amazing speed and neatness and then, as her partner lifted her gently in the air, would slowly lift her leg backward at the knee with a grace and sensuality to make you swoon.

At the times when I managed to tear my attention away from the long-legged women in skirts invariably cut to the waist, I was always impressed with the quality of dancing by the men. They have a softness and a deftness that defies the macho origins of the form, developed by the gangsters dancing together as they waited for the women in the Buenos Aires brothels.

The often melancholy accompaniment by the orchestra of seven, featuring piano and two bandoneons, provided powerful rhythms for the dancers to weave their magic and reached the heights in a section devoted to the music of the fine composer, Piazzola.

The skill and sizzle held my attention to the end and it's good to think that any occasional dance audience members were having a great time seeing high quality dance in an accessible format. I shall look forward to their return. An annual fix of the Tango suits me very well -- more often might be bad for my blood pressure.

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