January 25, 2015 – The Auditorium Theater’s 125th Season began its 2015 portion of the International Dance Series Sunday with Argentina’s Tango Buenos Aires.
Established for the “Jazmines” festival at the Michelangelo, a famous Argentine cabaret, the once controversial company has made an impressive name for itself since the 1980’s. International touring is now a main part of their season with at least one large-scale, multi-country tour per year. A mixture of African and Spanish roots make the tango a unique treat in the midst of a blustery Chicago winter and Tango Buenos Aires demonstrated that they are arguably the best in the business.
Singer Lucia Alonso began the first act in a magnificent sparkling white dress. She raised the microphone to her mouth and belted out hearty vocals in a heavy Spanish accent. Dancers entered, slithering on the floor, a surprisingly “modern dance” choice for the start of a tango production. The entrance highlighted a dramatic scope in the training of the dancers. Their outreached arms showed balletic grace, juxtaposed later with spicy and sharp legwork.
A slower start for a firecracker show, the work soon heated up with exceptionally performed music by live musicians draping the back of the stage. The tango’s signature piano and bandoneon (accordian) carried through the show creating tunes thick with the signature sex appeal of tango. Dancers showed their skills as the entire company danced in unison between solo partnerships. The audience quickly came to anticipate the final pose of each vignette as the male dipped his female partner to her lowest lunge, head flung back, each time creating a new variation on the evocative, leggy line.
The highlight of the first act came when the males of the company demonstrated their impressive skill on the Boleadoras, typical Argentinean tools used to catch cattle in the countryside. Boleadoras are comprised of hard spheres on the end of a thin rope or chain that is manipulated in wide circles, swinging wildly around the man’s body. The dance of Las Boleadoras went on for longer than expected but never grew stale as each new rhythm charged the room with yet another shock of testosterone filled tricks. The chauvinistic dance of the men is a true signature of Tango Buenos Aires as it echoes its past as an all male company.
The second act was more of the same. Bright colors of ever-changing costumes helped to keep things visually stimulating while musicians took solos to highlight their abilities. A highpoint in this act came in the form of a dancing duet of tricks and turns. The female partner flipped high in the air, above the male’s shoulders, and ended in the splits, never once losing her air of sensual Argentinean superiority.
In the final moments, the ensemble danced in unison one last time, presenting an image of tangled legs, long lines, and impeccably rehearsed patterns. The company of Tango Buenos Aires waved from stage as the curtain fell, leaving the audience already anticipating its next appearance in the Windy City.
Clef Notes Chicagoland Journal for the Arts
Tango Buenos Aires performed a sexy and dazzling production in its Auditorium Theatre debut this January (photo courtesy of Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University).