Milonga from the heart

Clarín Entertainments – July 17 2013

Por Laura Falcoff

On the pretext of portraying the genre, the show by Videla and Lezano succeeds in depicting atmospheres of rich intimacy.

The peculiar microcosm of the milongas of Buenos Aires has been portrayed with some frequency in recent times, particularly by documentary makers from Argentina and abroad, and to a lesser extent by stage artists. Social Tango, which has just premiered at the Teatro de la Ribera, is in its own way also a portrait of the milonga, or rather of the effect of life in the milongas on those who frequent them. In this respect, Agustina Videla and Nora Lezano, who codirect the show, have created a narrative core: a man trapped in his day-to-day routine, whose existence is transformed when he discovers friendship and even love; the character opens himself up to what we presume is a new life when he joins that loosely-knit but recognizable circle of men and women for whom dancing tango is more than a passing fad. One of the great merits of Social Tango lies in telling the story without “messages”, without scenes demonstrating that surprise is better than routine or that contact with others is preferable to shutting yourself off from the world. Just the opposite: Social Tango is a show without frills from the staging point of view, where events are narrated using the particular vocabulary of the dance. As the choreographer Agustina Videla draws on both tango and contemporary dance and links the scenes together in a fluid succession of atmospheres and situations, which include the dance pure and simple, with all the delight and joy that comes with immersing oneself in tango, and the description of broken heart in a brief choreography that is skillfully crafted and performed by just the men.

The tango vocabulary employed is devoid of flashy figures and in any case is much closer to the dance that can be seen in the milongas; the scenic power is provided by multiple attractive combinations of spatial designs.

The participation of photographer Nora Lezano has taken shape in the wonderful short films interspersed between the live scenes. The first is especially eyecatching: the record of a Buenos Aires that is at once familiar and unfamiliar, beautiful and nightmarish. The cast of dancers is excellent, as are the imaginative costumes by Renata Schussheim and the lighting by Marcelo Cuervo, which provides just the right feel for the show.

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