artandculture Auditorium Theatre

Sizzling & sensual. Tango Buenos Aries

Sunday, January 25, 2015 tgoandco

For one performance only, the Argentinian Group Tango Buenos Aries steamed up the stage with a performance that packed the audience to the rafters at Auditorium Theater. If you didn't know about it, you certainly missed out. More than just dance, it was an exploration into Argentina with a dazzling mix of music and dance.

It was also a steal at the price as it was like getting two premium concert tickets for the price of one (one dance and another music). Led by Artistic Director Rosario Bauzá and Musical Director Fernando Marzán, the company brings its sensual passion to the Auditorium stage with “Song of Eva Perón,” a Tango dance and music performance inspired by the most important female figure in Argentinian history. While it was not an adaption of her work, politics or life, the show was more short vignettes of periods that paralleled her life as a means to show tango dance to it’s fullest.  The show reflected aspects of the dance halls where the tango originated and how tango is a source of pride.

An Dynamic Assortment of Talent

The music of the evening was as important as the dance. A five-member band was composed of piano, bass, violin and two bandoneon. The bandoneon is an instrument that is similar to the concertina but with a larger and fuller range of tones. The music well supported the dance with a musical score that was a mix of composers that included work by Argentinian Astor Piassolla. The highlight of this group was Fernando Marzan. An extremely fine musician and composer, Marzan has done work for the films Evita, The Imposters and Forever Tango. A child prodigy, Marzan started his piano training at age six and had achieved a great level of achievement by the time he was fourteen. At seventeen, he was Professor of Music from the National Conservatory of Music. Marzan has been artistic director for Tango Buenos Aries since 2003.  The opportunity to hear him play is worth the cost of admission alone. He is up and down the piano keys with great force.

Dancer Hector Falcón was choreographer of the show. Involved in dance from his youth, Falcón has danced and taught tango around the globe and at over 40 countries. He is considered to be one of, if not “the best tango choreographers of all time.” He enjoys rock star status in Argentina and is heavily revered internationally as an authority on tango. Falcón has been with Tango Buenos Aries since 2003.

Getting Touchy

Tango dance originated in the 1890s and comes from the latin a meaning of “touch”.  It is a partnered dance that came from the Rio de La Plata border region of Argentina and Uruguay.  It was a dance from the working class slums of the immigrants that populated the region. The immigrants were a mixture of Italian, polish and other Eastern Europeans. It incorporates a mixture of African and Spanish antecedents and can at times have underpinning that feel a bit like flamenco. But its growth in dance halls, brothels and slums made the dance more sensual and sexual in nature.
The ensemble that makes up Tango Buenos Aries is small — ten dancers. There are five women and five men. All had various ages and all with a solid command of the dance.  The range of dancers ages looked to be mid twenties to late fifties/early sixties. All were very adept at their craft and because it is a dance that is more couple centric, each couple had their own unique chemistry and passion surrounding them. Some couples were more acrobatic and high energy while others were more controlled and restrained as they glided across the floor. Tango is a dance that can be shared by all people of all ages — that is its strength. It is a dance of passion and love. This love of tango is exactly what Tango Buenos Aires brought to the stage.

Personally, I think the popularity of tango seems to come from the fact that tango seems to be universal in sensuality in that it is able to be performed by people of all ages. Typically, a dancers life is very short as the body stiffens as it ages. After a certain age, getting on point is just not going to happen. The amount of work it takes to keep a body in shape to do modern dance becomes overwhelming. With tango this is not the case. It is a means to keep in shape and enjoy a passion.  It is rare to see professional dancers past the age of 35. Tonight was a treat is seeing people enjoy their craft and also be mesmerizing in their skill of the craft.

Close Contact

The dance involves a very close contact embrace with the lead and follow dancing chest to chest. The chest-to-chest contact involves leg movements that either mimic or involving spiraling the leg around the dance partners leg or body. It makes for very sensual movements particularly when the taken to an art form as was at this evening performance.  Dance moves that seemed relatively simple to watch are in fact intensely complicated. The moves were executed flawlessly and showed why this dance was a predecessor to this generations’ twirking.

Tonight’s dance was all about romance and passion with each partner’s body locked in embrace. In one movement “Felicia”, the male lead had the female lead’s body completely spiraling around his neck, torso and then mopping up the floor in perhaps the most breath-taking moments of sensuality. The first act closed with a dance section called “Malambo” a dance that used Las Boleadoras. Las Boleadoras are two balls that are tied together by a cord. Used by gauchos for subduing animals or cattle, tonight they were used to keep the rhythm of the dance as the balls hit the floor. The acoustics of the Auditorium Theater were so phenomenal, one could hear the whizzing speed with which these balls were spinning. They can and will break a bone when hitting impact.  Mixed with flamenco like dancing, the men of Tango Buenos Aries provided some very powerful and sexy rhythms. This was a moment in the program where age was not a boundary. One of the male leads took center stage in some of the most complicated of the moves and was a master of his craft with his boleadoras. There was much to see and enjoy in this performance. Tango Buenos Aries was in Chicago for one night only. They will undoubtedly be back. Check them out online and find out there schedule for their next stop.

The Origins of Tango Buenos Aires

Tango Buenos Aires has become one of Argentina’s great cultural exports, known throughout the Americas, Europe and the Far East as the most authentic and uncompromising representative of the Tango. Tango Buenos Aires was created for the “Jazmines Festival” at the famous Buenos Aires cabaret “Michelangelo” by renowned composer and tango director Osvaldo Requena. The company met with tremendous success and was immediately added to the season of the General San Martin Municipal Theatre. Tango Buenos Aires has participated in the International Festival in Adelaide, Australia, and in the New Zealand Festival. The company has traveled to Southeast Asia, giving performances in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Bangkok, Thailand. Under the patronage of the President of Argentina, the company introduced the Tango to Indonesia for the first time ever. The company has toured North America to great critical and popular acclaim, appearing in cities including Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Miami, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, Cleveland, Louisville, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Lincoln, Toronto, Canada, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

“This performance is an especially rare opportunity to present both a world-class dance company and world-class musicians together in the same evening,” said Auditorium Theatre Executive Director Brett Batterson.

Part of the 125th Anniversary Season of the Auditorium Theater, this year marks a high point in the history of the Auditorium Theater. When it opened in 1889, the Auditorium Theater was the largest building in the United States and the tallest in Chicago. The theater was cutting edge with 3,500 carbon filament light bulbs (only seen publicly two years before). The theater had astounding acoustics, was one of the first to have air conditioning and 26 hydraulic lifts that could raise and lower parts of the stage. Originally designed by Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan, the Auditorium Theater was referred to as the 8th wonder of the world when it opened.

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