Miguel Angel Zotto's "Buenos Aires Tango"
Peacock Theatre, London
Tuesday 29 January 2008
Peacock Theatre has seen two different Tango Shows in a short time. A few months ago, “Estampas Porteñas” brought passion and fiery dance (and outstanding music) onto the stage. On this occasion, “Buenos Aires Tango” danced by Miguel Angel Zotto’s group of exceptional tango dancers and musicians delighted the audiences on their first night.
It is difficult to explain the difference between the two shows. Whereas “Estampas Porteñas” relished on the acrobatics and “showing off” aspects of the dance, “Buenos Aires Tango” was a more intimate affair. All dancers had impeccable footwork, beautiful rapport and there was passion in abundance. However, the overall effect was of a more subdued, more elegant and warmer show. This show presented the kind of Tango that I always identify with Argentina and, just to remind us all that this was indeed the cradle of the dance form, projections of the Obelisco in Buenos Aires acted as an appropriate background to most of the performance.
The show was a compilation of fragments from previous shows. Not having seen the company before, I was lucky enough to see everything for the first time. There was a hint of telling the history of tango. Indeed, the first number was a gaucho dance, reminiscing of flamenco zapateado and obviously establishing the connection between Argentinean Folklore and its Spanish roots. Soon the tango emerged, first as a male dominated dance, then slowly shifting territory to the brothels, where prostitutes acted as improvised partners in the dance. It was just a matter a time for Tango to travel in time and space from those humble and dubious origins into the salons of the upper classes in Argentina and every Western country in the world.
However, Tango never lost the passion and sadness that gave it birth in the first place and, especially the music that somehow shapes the content of the dance, is most of the times nostalgic.
The first act of the programme finished with a fragment of “Homenaje personajes de Horacio Ferrer y Astor Piazzola”. Needless to say, praise must go to the musicians who performed Piazzola’s music beautifully and the dancers who showcased, as they did throughout the show, great elegance, fabulous footwork and passion galore!
The second part of the programme was a bit shorter and this made it flow seamlessly. Funnily enough it would be difficult to find a number to criticise. Zotto’s choreography is never dull. He knows his stagecraft and also how long a dance can sustain the audience’s interest. More importantly, he knows how to make choreographic evolutions that demand the careful attention of the viewer, and his use of ensemble work is complex at times. So, repeated viewings may enhance the appreciation of the dance numbers.
His dancers understand what Zotto is trying to achieve and, the result is of a highly unified show, in spite of the fact that it is made up of fragments. It would be difficult to note some dancers over the rest, but certainly Analía Morales and Gabriel Ponce danced beautifully, passionately and their technique was simply faultless.
As the show gathered speed and momentum and the dancers showcased that difficult mixture of elegance and passion, it was interesting to think how miles apart Argentina’s national dance form stands from the rest of Latin America’s. Tango is a strange mixture of old European Ballroom tradition imbued with the passion that only South America could give to any formal social dance.
The show was tango at its best, highly recommendable for the sole pleasure of seeing and hearing such beautiful dancers and musicians.[/b]