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Flash Review 2, 9-24: Letting 'Pasion' Get the Best of You
Seeing Tango in a New Light with "Tango Pasion"

By Tara Zahra
Copyright 2001 Tara Zahra

DETROIT -- The Tango was ripe for consumption this past week. The controlled, gliding circles of the dancers in Argentina's "Tango Pasion" only highlighted the movement's underlying emotional explosiveness -- passion, anger, anxiety. It was this that I could relate to -- the feeling that calls to unity and smooth nationalist rhetoric, collective performances of God Bless America (before the curtain opened Thursday night at the Detroit Opera House) could barely submerge an underlying and imminent explosiveness.

And so "Tango Pasion," choreographed by Hector Zaraspe, worked for me as metaphor and distraction. The performance's strength was in its range, which never tetered too far into the realm of incoherence. The production motifs ranged from seedy 40s lounge, to Starry Night, to Argentinian Western, and the dancers were surprisingly diverse in body type and training (ballet, modern, and flamenco influences were all put to good use). I left feeling that the Tango is a far more versatile and exciting dance then I had believed.

Sex was everywhere. This most frequently took the form of an exaggerated, 3-inch heel, female sexuality, complexly empowered. Graciela Garcia, sex goddess extraordinaire, toyed with four men as she chose between them and they obligingly serviced her. Claudia Diaz and Alberto Morra performed a stunning sequence of fast and furious kicks between the legs, a power struggle and an exhilarating kind of play. Viviana Laguzzi's ballerina elegance and long legs made for a beautiful and passionate adagio. And most interesting of all was the coupling of Juan Corvalo and Omar Ocampo, their shadows projected onto a screen behind them, in a segment which was violent and intense, subtly breaking heterosexual codes simply through fleeting touch and intense eye contact.

"Tango Pasion" takes you out of time and place. Modern computer tricks combine with an orchestra of tiny old white men, who seem to come from another century. A Tony Bennet look-alike sings the occasional (slightly misplaced) greasy lounge song. At the same time, it was a feel-good, clap your hands spectacle. As a spectacle which disorients in a time of profound disorientation, it succeeded in capturing the moment.

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