Tango Fire’s performance in April 2011 used lots of dry ice, which made for interesting lighting effects, but I like this shot best because seeing it gave me an additional insight.
The dancers were consistently fast and technically excellent but the overall impression was not one of passion, as one might expect from the theme or the dance form itself. I decided that this was due mainly to the constant frenetic pace. It was difficult to admire such superbly speedy steps when there are no slower sections for contrast, and it was difficult to relate emotionally to what’s on stage – irrespective of the story – when there was no pause to enable a consolidation of what was going on. However, this shot indicated that a different factor might also have contributed to the audience’s lack of engagement. The dancers were so intent on their more difficult moves that it seems they forgot to act (my flamenco teacher would say they’re weren’t ‘dancing with their faces’). While understandable in a way, that the performers zone out of character for the hard bits isn’t going to help draw people in, especially when others in the troupe use the same expression too.
I think you’re right, and perhaps it’s the choreographer’s error to make it *that* difficult. It’s possible to look so cool by doing things that are physically much less demanding – especially if you vary the pace and style and texture. I saw the 2009 version, which as far as I remember was only totally frenetic for the second half. And with fast tango it’s so easy to do far to much work and just look like some sort of upside-down combine harvester.
I love the image of the upside-down combine harvester. I covered the 2009 piece for Dance Today too, and think that part of my disappointment with this performance was that I had expected something more as that earlier performance seemed to offer exciting potential.