Miguel Angel Zotto and Milena Plebs, stars of the Broadway hit, Tango Argentino, are back in New York with Tango X 2, opening at City Center Nov. 7 and running there only through Nov. 17. (After this City Center engagement, the company moves on to Chile.)
Sixteen of "the world's finest tango dancers" will appear in Tango X 2, along with tango singer Roxana Fontan and a full band. This is the fourth world tour for TX2, which premiered in Buenos Aires in 1988.
After touring with Tango Argentino for four years, in 1991, Zotto and Plebs won the highest prize in Argentinean dance (the Premio Maria Ruanova). They've recently starred with Robert Duvall in a PBS documentary on the tango.
Tango X 2 will trace the history of the art form, from its origins in Spanish, Italian and African slums at the turn of the century to its rise as a popular ballroom dance. (The dance actually fared better in Europe than it did in Argentina, where it was considered too eroticized for polite society.)
According to stories by Jennifer Dunning in the New York Times (Nov. 7) and Robert Dominguez in the Daily News (Nov. 8), Milena Pelbs met Miguel Angel Zotto when she saw him in a Buenos Aires revue called "Jazmines." She started taking lessons from him, which soon led to a romantic relationship and nine-year marriage. Though they're now legally separated, "we never stopped dancing," Plebs noted. It's no surprise Zotto and Plebs were drawn to each other, judging from Plebs' description of the tango: "People always come back to `embrace' dances when they feel the body of another person. It's very intimate and sensual and binds people together. All the movements are in the legs, with the torsos very close and quiet."
In researching Tango Argentino, the couple researched all the different tango styles, from 1920's to modern. Asked about the difference between Tango Argentino and the new show, Tango X 2, Milena Plebs told Playbill On-Line that the cast of 2 is significantly younger and therefore have a different point of view. "More optimistic," she explained, "we have a little more fun. Also, this show has more short stories in it. We show the style through characters -- such as pimps and socialites (called "milangeros") and their stories." Tango X 2 will also pay homage to the great Tango singers Carlos Gardel and Azucena Maizani, as well as the 1930's Tango dancer, El Cachafaz.
Once the Tango troup return to Argentina after their Chilean stint, Zotto and Plebs will set to work on their latest piece, "Una Noche De Tango" (A Night Of Tango"), which will play for a six month season in Buenos Aires. Seven couples will comprise that show, along with three singers and the band from Tango X 2. Plans for a world tour (including the U.S.) are already under discussion.
For tickets and information, call City Center at (212) 581-1212.
-- By David Lefkowitz