With audiences already discoing at Saturday Night Fever and swinging at Swing!, Broadway has made room for yet another dance style this season -- albeit one that has proved popular many times on the Rialto. Nov. 11, 1999-Jan. 9, 2000 sees the return of Tango Argentino, an acclaimed hit from the 1985 season, when it played six months at the now-defunct Mark Hellinger Theatre.
Very far from defunct are several of the dancers from that engagement, who will perform in the new edition, both in New York and on its subsequent European tour. Among the returnees: Juan Carlos Copes & Maria Nieves, Nelida & Nelson, the Dinzels, and Hector and Elsa Maria Mayoral. The latter pair, according to production spokespersons at Boneau/Bryan Brown, taught President Bill Clinton a few tango steps when he was in Argentina.
The return engagement of Tango officially opens Nov. 17 at the Gershwin Theatre, whose last tenant was a holiday return engagement of Cathy Rigby's Peter Pan. The Gershwin box office opens Oct. 10.
New additions to the line-up include Pablo Veron & Guillermina, Norma & Luis Pereyra, Carlos & Alicia (seen in the recent film "Tango"), Roberto & Lorena, Johana Copes, and Cecilica Narova.
Created by Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli, who also brought Flamenco Puro and Black And Blue to Broadway, Tango Argentino was a best musical Tony nominee in its first incarnation. The show then went on to a U.S. tour, a stint in Japan and a run in London's West End, where it won the Olivier Award for Best Musical. The current production comes off a well-received engagement in Buenos Aires that officially opened Nov. 3. Local tango aficionados noted that, unlike other current -- and numerous -- tango shows in that city, Tango Argentino uses seasoned veterans, stars in their field, who are older and occasionally a touch wider than has been the recent custom.
Spanish dance has been a perennial New York theatre favorite, from Flamenco artists at City Center to annual visits at Repertorio Espanol by Pilar Rioja. Broadway has seen such productions as Tango Passion, Gypsy Pasion [sic], Forever Tango and the Brazilian Oba Oba series.
According to a synopsis in the original Forever Tango Playbill, the dance form started in 1880s Buenos Aires, where migrants populated the outskirts of the city. The origin of tango music is less clear; possibilities include a cross between Indian rhythms and music of the Pampas, or the drumming of African slaves. Carlos Gardel became the first tango star, with the 1920s seeing an international craze develop for the form. The dance is typified by the participants looking intensely into each other's eyes while engaging in rapid, back-and-forth legwork. Milongas are a variation of tangos, generally done with faster rhythms. Many sequences in Tango Argentino are solely musical and feature just the orchestra, with the bandoneon (accordion) the most prevalent instrument.
For tickets ($25-$75) and information on Tango Argentino at the Gershwin Theatre call (212) 307-4757.