The word "tango" conjures up scenes from Hollywood films. What self-respecting spy gets to the end of a movie without at least one prowl across a swanky dance floor with a femme fatale in a glittering high-cut dress? But that's just a watered-down pantomime. The dance as we know it comes from Argentina's bars and brothels, a cocktail of influences from African slaves and European and Latin immigrants — the physical expressions of people in love, lust and despair a long way from home. Like a martini, there are countless versions. For a while it was male-only, a little like Shakespeare when women were banned from the stage, minus the drag. (Same-sex tango is making a comeback, too: Google "queer tango" and treat yourself to some videos.)
Get a primer on the art when Tango Buenos Aires comes pivoting and gliding onstage at the Van Duzer Theatre on Tuesday, Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. ($45, $10 HSU students). Some 20 dancers and musicians take the audience on a tour of the dance's roots and evolution over the last century. The troupe serves the purist's recipe — chest-to-chest, intense and expressive, feet sweeping just above the floor to bittersweet music. Sometimes slow and deliberate, sometimes at breakneck speed, the dancers' ankles and knees whip and kick around one another and bodies bend and slide at dramatic angles. It's a dance of skill and guts as much as sensuality.
— Jennifer Fumiko Cahill