by Ana Abad-Carles
18 September 2007 -- Peacock Theatre, London
The Buenos Aires group Estampas Porteñas, directed by Carolina Soler, opened their season at the Peacock Theatre with a show that brought to London all the passion of tango both as a dance and as a musical form.
Tango has been described on many occasions as the “vertical expression of a horizontal desire” and, when seeing these dancers on stage, there is very little doubt about the obvious and explicit sexuality of this dance. Originating from the brothels, the gender roles in tango are as sharply defined as the passions they contain.
Soler’s show had two distinct parts, the Milonga and the Show. The Milonga (or social dance where couples join on the dancefloor) presented the different couples of dancers.
It was obvious from the start that these are really exciting dancers to watch. Their technical display in their footwork and their level of coordination was quite extraordinary. However, there is this much you can do with tango, as it is not the most versatile of dance forms. Tango’s requirements are so exacting that it does not give much room for choreographic invention. There were some attempts at giving the dancers tango based numbers, but the choreographer did not manage to create a really distinctive dance that showed real choreographic daringness. Julio Bocca has adapted tangos for his Ballet Argentino and, before him, Oscar Araiz and Van Manen arranged for their respective companies pieces based on the fiery dance. However, within the remit of its very interpreters, Tango remains (like most folk dances) a limited dance form, from the purely choreographic point of view. It is up to the interpreters to make the dance as varied in tone and dynamics as possible.
Having said that, the second part of the programme, the Show, managed to present the dancers and their musicians in a different light.
It was clever of Soler to separate each dance by at least one musical number, as this gave the eye a rest and made the tango dancers much more exciting to watch. The couples were, by now, at their best and the musicians were simply outstanding. Soon, the repertoire moved into Piazzolla’s territory and how beautiful his music is!! How evocative and, played as it was on Tuesday against such wonderful Argentinean artists, how moving!! All credit to Quatrotango, and the singer, Javier di Ciriaco, for giving such beautiful renditions of Argentinean songs.
Overall “Tango Fire” stands for its name… If you like Tango, don’t miss it, as it does not usually get any better than this. Even if you just enjoy the music, this is the show to go to!!