Anyone who's suffered through the gaucheries and distortions of tourist tango in Buenos Aires looks forward to new editions of Luis Bravo's familiar revue "Forever Tango" knowing that Argentina's most internationally celebrated music and dance tradition is in safe hands.
Choreographed by the dancers, the current version at the Wilshire Theatre features the usual gymnastic nonsense involving a giant bandoneon, but on this tour it's performed with more than the usual grit by Claudio Gonzalez and Valentina Villarroel, new to the revue in Los Angeles.
Indeed, on Thursday, Gonzalez plunged so deeply into the doomed, obsessive sexuality of tango that he sometimes winced when taking Villarroel's hand, as if she were hot enough to scald him.
However, nobody combined expressive heat and technical fireworks more impressively than Fabio Narvaez and Lorena Yacono, who seemed to bring a whole history to each move yet could still deliver twisty, high-velocity tango kicks with spectacular force. In one duet, she danced heroically to break down his icy resistance and triumphed when, on the last note, he buried his head in her shoulders.
Several of the other fine couples unseen on previous "Forever Tango" visits danced strongly Thursday, but without any dramatic agenda other than displaying the man's brusque dominance and the woman's tense resistance. Francisco Forquera and Natalia Hills, for example, explored a very fast, clipped style (sudden changes of level and direction) accented by flashes of unison kick-steps. They continually challenged one another but never let down their guard.
Carlos Vera and Laura Marcarie danced as if they'd just had a fight and were struggling to regain civility -- with their daring, horizontal stretch-dip playing as a sudden flare-up and perhaps even an act of public subjugation.
In contrast, Cesar Coelho and Melina Brufman emphasized youthful charm and balletic lightness, he showing off crisp air turns, she sleek kneeling spins. Carlos Gavito, Marcela Duran, Marcelo Bernadaz and Veronica Gardella completed the roster.
Now directed by Victor Lavallen, the 11-piece band played with deep authority and, as always, Carlos Morel made an impassioned, stylish balladeer.
Where: Wilshire Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills
When: Today, 3 and 8 p.m.; Sunday, 3 p.m.; Tuesday- Thursday, 8 p.m.; Friday, 7 p.m.; next Saturday, 5 and 9 p.m.; Feb. 16, 3 p.m.
Ends: Feb. 16
Contact: (213) 365-3500