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It's a `Tango Fire' that doesn't have blazing heat

The dancers are faultless, but there's little passion in a linear and formulaic show.

October 10, 2006|Sara Wolf | Special to The Times

Ending a three-venue Southland visit at the Wilshire Theatre on Sunday afternoon, "Tango Fire" sizzled and smoldered more than ignited the promised blaze of its title.

This was through no fault of the five couples comprising the Buenos Aires Estampas Portenas troupe, whose competence at the demands of the form -- an olio of languid suppleness and quick-fire precision with more than a dash of sensuality -- was indisputable.

Added to this were entrancing musical interludes by the impeccable Quatrotango (Gabriel Clenar, Hugo Satorre, Gerardo Scaglione and Lucas Furno) and the wistful serenading of Diego Fama, crooning into a circa-1940s oversized nightclub microphone.

Indeed, nary a note was heard, or hair seen, out of place in a formulaic production that segued from coy, playful early 20th century nightclub milongas in the first half to increasingly impassioned, acrobatic displays of contemporary show tango, concluding with the 1980s Tango Nuevo of composer Astor Piazzolla.

Opening and closing ensemble acts highlighted an interplay of unison and counterpoint that evidenced artistic director Carolina Soler's background in classical ballet. Yet this linear regimentation ran contrary to the delights of tango dancing: the swirl of continual motion in which a couple is suspended, on the edge of spinning out of control while oscillating across the stage -- an apt metaphor for the volatility of romantic love.

Along with parsimonious apportioning of partnering fireworks, ensemble work also impinged on the intimacy (some may call it identification) audience members cultivate with the amorous games of specific couples, whether it be the glancing kisses of Ezequiel Hudyma and an elegantly sultry Paola Rodolfo or the caresses and trust displayed by Luciano Capparelli and the lithe Rocio de los Santos.

Ultimately, the ability to sustain high temperatures remains to be developed as the company (also including Nelson Celis and Yanina Fajar, Pablo Sosa and Mariela Maldonado, Mauricio Celis and Ines Cuesta) continues its U.S. debut tour.

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