Forever Tango, Forever Hot
Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango opened in 1994 and has run on and off ever since, through a couple of generations of dancers. I saw it in 1995 on the last night of its Broadway run and thought Forever Tango was the hottest thing ever. I saw it again Thursday night at Marcus Center Uihlein Hall; it hasn’t cooled off.
Being of a certain age myself, I adored the arch elegance of Laura Marcarie and Carlos Vera, who might be in their 50s. She is long with slender arms that typically lend an airy finish to phrases that begin with substantial force in her body. He is taut and broad-shouldered and thick-necked, and would be bullish were it not for his wry expression and deft, nonchalant, utterly secure partnering.
Virginia Porrino and Cristian Horvath were the comic couple. In two numbers, they exaggerated the already stylized conventions of tango. He lunged to kiss or grope; she dodged and blocked, until she turned the tables and turned out to be just as randy as her fellow.
They most closely parodied the dead-serious passion of the gorgeous, ballet-trained Romina Levin and Claudio Villagra. He was avid and she was wary as they sized each other up, circling and feinting, clinching suddenly and slipping the clinch, until her desire welled up and overflowed into an explosive, turning leap. She landed not in Villagra’s arms, but arched and sprawled backward in delerious abandon across his chest and over his shoulder.
Another refugee from ballet, Victoria Galoto, joined Juan Paolo Horvath in a late number that brought high-powered, Bolshoi-type acrobatic lifts into the picture. The overhead spins are foreign to tango style and didn’t make much choreographic sense, but fun is fun and the crowd loved it.Vanessa Villalba’s flaming red hair was the icing on a very hot cake she formed with David Leguizamon. This was the couple in wildly athletic heat. They laced and unlaced legs in the most sensual ways, and did it fast and in rhythm. They established enormous impetus in just a step or two, then whipped each other into reverse with startling force. All of this was by way of metaphor for uncontrollable mutual desire.
Music from a furiously intense and virtuosic eight-piece band, which included three howling bandoneons, violin, viola, cello (that was producer-director Luis Bravo on cello!) and piano, drove the dancing and paced the show, which also included a little ensemble dance drama of thugs and prostitutes and a number of suave romantic songs sung by Martin de Leon.
On Wednesday, Bravo and some of his dancers worked with MPS students from Danceworks’ Mad Hot Ballroom program. (Click here to see Brian Jacobson’s photo gallery of that session.) He put five kid couples on stage during the overture Thursday night. They nailed the steps and absolutely got the tango attitude. They were a joy to behold.