“TANGO MEANS TOUCH”
By: Hal de Becker
That’s what Jenny Care told the audience the word “tango” means in Latin. Jenny is president of ‘Friends of Winchester Cultural Center’ and served as mistress of ceremonies for a rousing fundraising performance of tango music and dance at the center’s intimate theater.
Tickets to the event included a pre-performance outdoor reception amidst the center’s lush, shaded green gardens. Food and beverages were provided. Among the latter some Argentinean wine may have been served since that country is the birthplace of Tango.
The venue seats about 300 and appeared to be full. Among the many luminaries attending were Congresswoman Dina Titus, Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, Assemblyman Elliot Anderson, tango afficioanado Brigid Kelly and the popular ballroom dance team of Larissa Solovieva and Ricardo Mondio. Larissa’s son Ivan was also there; once a high flying ballet dancer, he’s now soaring in the USAF.
The Firenze Tango Band, a superb quintet, not only accompanied the dancers but also provided concert hall level performances of works by Argentine composers Astor Piazolla, Carlos Gardel, Mariano Mores and Ernesto Mendez. Tango music’s international appeal was evidenced in other selections by Poland’s Jerzy Petersburski, Denmark’s Jacob Gade and Uruguay’s Gerardo Rodriguez.
Especially memorable were dramatic renderings of “Revolucionario” and a Polish tango “Burnt by the Sun” by violin virtuoso Laraine Kaizer-Viazovtsev. Her lone violin captured the complex orchestral dissonances called for in the works. She also produced captivating tango rhythms by skillfully employing pizzicato technique (plucking) and by striking her bow percussively against the strings and body of her violin.
Pablo Gadda too brought special rhythms to his outstanding guitar performance by playing the cajon or Flamenco drum. Hubert Gall’s expert accordion playing provided full and totally satisfying tango sound in every number even without the customary bandoneon concertina. A rendition of the haunting “Intermezzo” by Granados was sensitively performed by cellist Moonlight Tran and pianist Damaris Morales.
A tango show wouldn’t be complete without dancers and the Winchester production gave us four of the best with two Los Angeles based couples, the purists Carlos and Mayte Barrionuevo and the innovative Jordi Caballero and Ekaterina Fedosova.
They made handsome couples: the ladies in long gowns split up the thigh, allowing freedom for high leg moves, and the men in alternating white and black suits.
In authentic tango style Carlos and Mayte moved in long strides, lithe and sensual like two graceful jungle cats ready to spring. At times the intricate interplay of their legs appeared impossibly fast. They projected an impression that beneath their elegance lay burning impulses.
Their performances of the familiar favorites “La Cumparsita” and “Jalousie” drew especially enthusiastic response from the grateful audience.
Although tango technique was a clear influence on Jordi’s and Ekaterina’s dancing it was the acrobatic lifts and spins, resembling an adagio dance act, which dominated their numbers.
Their overhead lifts and throws were perfectly timed and the preparations smoothly concealed. Many moves came as exciting surprises. In several instances Jordi threw her from above and as she spun down caught her at the last moment, her face only a fraction of an inch above the floor. The gasps from the audience were followed by sustained applause.
Whether performing as a tango team or an adagio act the audience loved them.
At the show’s end the dancers and musicians drew cheers and standing ovations proving that good tango is always appreciated – and touching.