To foreigners, tango is the champagne of Latin dance. The steps are complex and the expression is rich. The partners must touch, embrace, extend legs and link pelvises. Expert tango dancers can make every body part erotic at once. They must be open, even ostentatious; they must have the physical discipline of a gymnast; and they must, above all, have perfect chemistry with a partner.
“Forever Tango” arrives in San José this week, and it’s a veritable wine basket of Argentinian dance: More than two hours of continuous choreography elapse before the exhausted audience is finally released into the night. The Broadway super-hit is a kind of South American “Riverdance,” a high-budget dance spectacular that sold out for 14 months in 1997 and returned for a second run in 2004. In true 21st Century form, “Forever Tango” has featured “Dancing with the Stars” winners.
Most Gringos have never heard of Luis Bravo, but the musician is now a showbiz legend, and it is his name that graces the show’s billboards. A native Argentine, Bravo is a master cellist who moved to Los Angeles and gradually assembled the elements that would become “Forever Tango.” In past interviews, Bravo has credited his childhood in small-town Argentina and formative years in Buenos Aires as the show’s emotional core.
Critics have noted – and it’s evident from promo videos – that “Forever Tango” is more than a dance showcase. Bravo’s vignettes tell distinct stories, told physically through the movements of 14-16 dancers. Elegant costumes, complex lightning and a 12-piece orchestra add to the spectacle. Not surprisingly, the premiere production was nominated for a Tony Award for best choreography.
Like seeing Cirque du Soleil or David Copperfield in Las Vegas, part of the joy of “Forever Tango” is seeing some of the finest talents in the world do their thing, live. Such a production lacks the homegrown feel of a regional troupe, but you’d be hard pressed to find so many sophisticated dancers on a single stage. The show plays only two nights, but one evening should be more than enough.
(“Forever Tango” plays Oct. 16-17. Melico Salazar Theater, San José. 8 p.m. ₡16,000-54,000 ($32-$108). Tickets: 2528-8777, www.mundoticket.com).