More Than a Dance, Tango Is Forever

More Than a Dance, Tango Is Forever Through born in the brothels of turn-of-the-century Buenos Aires, the tango has grown to epitomize the elegance of high society with all its glamour, glittering evening gowns and men in tails.

Through born in the brothels of turn-of-the-century Buenos Aires, the tango has grown to epitomize the elegance of high society with all its glamour, glittering evening gowns and men in tails.

Forever Tango has enjoyed sold out audiences in London's West End, Los Angeles, San Diego, Detroit. Forever Tango played an 18-month sold out run in San Francisco, and is continuing to astound audiences in Chicago where it opened five months ago. While the dance they say is eternal, the engagement is limited, running through Nov. 24, 1996.

Immigrants from Europe, Africa and other countries streamed into Argentina, and a new music emerged. Musical historians argue its exact origins. However, it is generally accepted the tango grew from a conglomeration of many nations: the African slaves who beat relentless rhythms on their drums (known as tan-go); the local popular music known as the milonga, combining Indian rhythms with the music of early Spanish colonists; and other influences, including Latin.

Some say the word "tango" comes from the Latin word tangere (to touch). And touch they do. The original tango developed as an 'acting out' of the relationship between the prostitute and her pimp. Titles of the first tangos referred to these characters by name. The songs and dances had no lyrics, were highly improvised, and were considered obscene. Not just a kind of sexual choreography, the tango also represented a duel: man-to-man combat between challengers for the favours of a woman, usually ending in the symbolic death of the opponent.

During this time, the breathy and wailing melancholy of the bandoneon (an accordion-type instrument imported from Argentina to Germany) became synonymous with tango music. As the tango became absorbed into the society at large, when the universal suffrage law was passed in Argentina in 1912, it lost some of its abrasiveness. Soon the tango developed into a phenomenon danced throughout the world, taking Paris and high society by storm. Roberto Firpo created the typical tango orchestra, rhythm played on piano and double bass; melodies played on bandoneon and violin with strong counter melodies and variations. Tango has had its popularity in Argentina wax and wane, in synch with the politics of the times. When Juan Peron rose to power in 1946, the tango again reached the pinnacle of popularity, as he and his wife Evita embraced it wholeheartedly. Yet when Evita died in 1952, rock 'n' roll invaded the popular scene. Today this daring art form is enjoying a resurgence of popularity, especially at the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto.

In this celebration of the dance, you will see the tango danced in more ways than you can count. From sultry sensuous numbers to hot and fast rhythms, the magic of the tango is revealed. With scissor-like precision, the dancers perform, as you hold your breath watching. This is not a fox-trot, or for the weak at heart. This is dangerous dancing.

Opening night saw the likes of Karen Kain, Linda Griffith, and Dini Petty, dance lovers we know. What few realized was the post show party at the Plaza Flamingo on College Street had the pleasure of watching Griffith and Petty show off their dance technique with Salsa and Merenge. But tango? Leave it to the experts. For information or tickets: (416) 872-5555.