to you by
New York manufacturer of fine dance apparel for women
and girls. Click here to see a sample of our products and a
list of web sites for purchasing.
With Body Wrappers it's always performance at its best.
Review, 6-1: History
Ass-hugging Skirts, Plunging Cleavages, Crippling Stilettos -- and
Authentic Dancing from Tango por Dos
Copyright 2006 Josephine Leask
LONDON -- Tango has
had so many re-inventions and revivals world-wide, that you might
expect it to have lost some of its original Argentinean 'pizzazz'
and become a light-weight tourist attraction. Not a bit, at least
as demonstrated by Tango por Dos's "La Historia," seen May 25 during
a limited run at the Peacock theatre in central London.
Under the directorship
of Miguel Angel Zotto, tango choreographer, dancer extraordinaire
and internationally famed teacher, Tango por Dos, fresh from Buenos
Aires, traces the colorful history of tango, right up to the present.
16 dancers, six musicians and two singers showcase the movements,
dancers, teachers and musicians crucial to the development of tango
since its inception in the late 19th century. The first act of "La
Historia" consists of extracts from the company's previous shows,
while in the second Zotto pays homage to composers Astor Piazzolla
and Horacio Ferrer, and experiments with some previously unseen
modern sequences of tango.
An actor who introduces
the first act, and talks about the main players in the history of
tango, makes for a lame beginning to this otherwise dazzling and
seductive show. The first duo stars Zotto himself with the impressive
Carina Calderon, who simply move with tango inscribed all over their
bodies. In these first few minutes the intense appeal of tango is
enough to win over even the most English, cynical members of the
audience. Passion in bucketfuls is mixed with astounding technical
precision and absolute control. The satisfying shapes that are made
by the bodies of this man and woman as they hold their upper torsos
fiercely upright, while their legs move below like highly efficient
tools, make this riveting movement to watch. On these two experienced
bodies, and indeed on all the dancers, steps, gestures and emotions
are compactly performed; each partnership seems to move so perfectly
in sync, that even where the couples look physically different they
dance as one body. While the male traditionally leads in tango,
here both men and women hold the same amount of power and charisma
whatever the subtext.
trends of tango are captured through film, costume, technique and
music. For example, the original tango danced only by men to attract
the attention of women; the simple, unfrilly traditional tango of
the early 1900s; the languid glamor of the '30s style; the American-influenced
tango invented by Hollywood and performed by the likes of Rudolph
Valentino and Natasha Ramboya; the light-hearted playful tango;
'back-to-front' tango which emerged from improvisation in Buenos
Aires in the '40s; and the tango danced in Parisian nightclubs in
the '40s. Other scenes recall the 'milongas' (tango clubs) of Buenos
Aries in the '50s. Each episode seamlessly flows into the next.
Music, of course, is
the core of tango, and in this production is as sophisticated as
the choreography. Soulful or playful tangos are sung by Maria Jose
Mentana and Claudio Garces; instrumental compositions, interpreted
by pianist German Gonzalo Martinez, first violinist Alejandro Schaikis
and first bandoneon player Pocho Palmer show just how talented every
artist seems to be. During Act I, the musicians play on a balcony
above the dancers, which emphasizes the significance of their presence
and is an effective way of integrating the music with the dance.
As each dance unfolds,
the forceful character of Argentinean tango makes its impact, from
the slow, 'stalking' tango walks to the languorous leans and slides
between couples, to the awesomely fast, sharp stabbing of limbs
to the gentle enveloping of one partner's body by the other's limbs.
Legs and feet are used as knives, slicing through space, as levers
to balance on a partner or as tentacles to trap a partner. This
is the real thing. While some of the time dancers perform cheek
to cheek, at other moments they are less close but still cover an
impressive terrain of extreme emotions. From love to hatred, from
cool to impassioned, these physical conversations make for compulsive
viewing. ŠIn the more modern and experimental tangos, as the dancers
gain confidence they seem to fly through the air and their footwork
is dizzying with its tempo and articulation. As an audience member
sometimes I just want to stand up and shout because this is such
damned good entertainment.
The Act II tribute to
Piazzolla and Ferre offers many highly charged and fabulous moments
and the dancers give their best, but the look is more commercial
and for me less engaging than Act I. Some of the costumes here verge
on the ridiculous and degrade the women. For example, in an homage
to the bandoneon, one woman appears wearing nothing but a huge bandoneon,
and of course is manipulated shamelessly by her macho partner.
Tango relies on stereotypical
gender coding, men and women representing exaggerated versions of
themselves in their stance, make-up, hairstyles and costumes. At
times it looks even tacky -- the slit ass-hugging skirts, plunging
cleavages, and crippling stilettos -- but when dancers portray this
amount of expertise and chutzpah the clichés inherent to tango
merely increase its charm. No wonder middle-class professionals
in London are forsaking the gym and running to the tango dance floor