Friday, November 8, 2013

Luis Bravo's Forever Tango Review

A Night of Tango

Who knew watching dancing could be almost as much fun as dancing itself? Luis Bravo's Forever Tango made a stop at the Strathmore Music Center last night... part of a successful North American tour that played at nearby Wolf Trap earlier this year. After a little more than two hours (including a 20-minute intermission) I left Strathmore exhilarated (albeit a bit tired) having seen one of the most elegant performances in recent memory.

Over two hours is a long time to tango... especially to a novice like myself. The show, which originated 20 years ago in San Francisco chronicles the history of the tango from its gritty beginnings in the local bordellos of Buenos Aries through its migration to Europe and eventually the rest of the world. The first few dances are mesmerizing... dizzying combinations of rhythmic harmony, that are equal parts sultry and seemingly impossible to duplicate. The champions on stage (14 all-Argentinian dancers) take turns wowing the audience with athletic moves that would put any pro athlete to shame.

Dancers David Leguizamon & Vanessa Villalba

Despite moments of levity (how often do you see a pimp take time out to get his shoes shined?) it's hard not to notice a level of sameness in Forever Tango, especially in the second half. The 11-person orchestra (I counted eight... where were those other three hiding?) jumps in between dances, setting the stage for each new chapter in the story. They perform their job admirably, and manage to keep things flowing; although some of the vocals tend to drag on a bit.

Each performer oozes sex appeal, decked out in tuxes & hot dresses (with slits in all the right places.) Whether it's the flick of a leg, or the arching of one's back, the dancers move slowly, tightly and almost violently with and against each other. I could have used a cold shoulder at least twice.

Dance is all the rage of late: Look no further than Dancing with the Stars, which leant two of its pros (Karina Smirnoff and Maksim Chmerkovskly) to the Broadway version of Forever Tango earlier this summer. The crowd at Strathmore couldn't have been happier, embracing the graceful participants and steamy moves with equal appreciation. For me, the night proved a welcome break from the comparative mundanity of concerts, movies and theater... further proof that you never know what's in store for you at Strathmore.