‘Forever Tango’ isn’t quite bringing sexy back

There is something mysterious about the art of tango. Its music, accentuated by the string pizzicato and the trembling bandoneon (Argentine accordion), seems to echo the rhythm of the heart. Its movement, riddled with embraces and acrobatics, reflects our yearning for sensuality. When done right, tango is not just a dance or a musical genre, but passion personified.

Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango,” which revived the public interest in Argentine tango and achieved Broadway fame, has been known for inspiring passion since the company’s first performance in San Francisco in 1994. But with its return to the Post Street Theatre this month, “Forever Tango” seems to have lost its spark.

The company sticks to the genre that it coined — tango musical with a mix of arias, theatrical duets, full ensemble pieces and orchestral interludes. There is no set, no narrative and, other than loosely tracing the history of tango, the pieces are not connected. The result is a full focus on the interaction of music and dance.

Yet despite the undoubtedly superb technical skills of the 13 dancers, who all choreographed their own numbers, they often lack that je ne sais quoi that makes a tango — a tango. Although they showed the diversity of styles, from languid to comic to acrobatic, the movements of the couples were often mechanical, as if they were performing just a well rehearsed routine.

Gone were the whirlwind of youthful passion and the I-can’t-take-my-eyes-off-you freshness. In fact, compared with the little noticed, but brilliant Estampas Portenas that performed a similar tango show here in September, the cast of “Forever Tango” seemed a bit … aging.

Some couples, like the talented Jorge Torres and Marcela Duran, used their many years of experience to present a mature, unhurried dance that spoke of a tamer romantic fire. Others still did those impressive acrobatic throws and twirls that earned “Forever Tango” its fame.

Musically, the arias of singer Martin de Leon were truly impressive. The 11-man orchestra, too, played a notable show with well-known favorites like “Jealousy,” showcasing a great solo by pianist Rodion Boshoer.

But looking at the four gray-haired bandoneros — the pride of the orchestra and true remnants of the old world — it was hard not to think of the countless times they have played these tango tunes.Tango, as Torres recently said before a magnificent performance in New York, is all about connection. Sadly, Wednesday’s opening performance of “Forever Tango” was missing just that.

Overall, though, the show remains solid and entertaining. If you are a steadfast fan of Bravo’s company, you may overlook what seems a lack of commitment to true feeling in the performance. But if you are hoping to get inspired by a truly spectacular evening of fire and passion, all you may get is a tango show that is technically superb, but emotionally vacant.

THEATER REVIEW

Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango”

When: 8 p.m. Mondays (except no shows Jan. 8 and 15); 8 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays; 2 or 8 p.m. Wednesdays; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturdays; 2 and 7 p.m. Sundays; closes Jan. 21

Where: Post Street Theatre, 450 Post St., San Francisco

Tickets: $65-$100

Contact: (415) 771-6900 or www.poststreettheatre.com

artsentertainmentOther Arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

A ban on smoking or vaping in multi-unit buildings has drawn opposition from cannabis advocates, who say it would leave users with no legal place to consume a legal substance. (Shutterstock)
Cannabis group slams Yee’s proposed apartment smoking ban as ‘classist’

Legislation would impose fines of $1,000 a day on repeat violators

The most dangerous behaviors by drivers include failing to yield right-of-way at crosswalks, unsafe speeding and failing to stop at red lights or stop signs. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite, which supplies water to San Francisco, is among the concerns of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is undergoing a change of leadership. <ins>(Courtesy SFPUC)</ins>
Changes in leadership at SFPUC spark concern, hope for future water policy

Will agency’s new commissioner continue to support Big Ag?

Supervisor Shamann Walton joined with community members to speak out against rising homicides, which have taken a heavy toll in the Bayview-Hunters Point in 2020. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F Examiner)
SF homicides surpass 2019 total with month left in year

Police attribute rise to COVID-19, shootings and deadly gang violence

A screenshot from SFPD body worn camera
New videos show police shooting man armed with knife, frying pan

Police say Antonio Estrada set fire to apartment building before shooting

Most Read