What the Brenda Angiel Aerial Dance Company of Argentina does in 8CHO AERIAL TANGO at the New Victory Theater is not easy. There are multiple movement vocabularies in play, a variety from the aerial arts and a huge number of steps and figures from stage and social tango. The obvious tension to be exploited is between dancing with the aid of bungees and harnesses and the basic building blocks of tango, which include the change of weight from one foot to the other and a proximate connection to one’s partner.
Some of the work is wholly off the floor, some uses a suspended dancer with a grounded partner, some permits each of the dancers to touch down from time to time, some uses a rear wall to serve as a sort of vertical floor, giving us a view of the dance as though from above. It seemed to me that the less grounded the dance, the less recognizably tango it was; I think there may be more to be done when it comes to reconfiguring of the dance’s steps, moves, and shapes for suspension rather than grounded walking. For that reason, I felt that the most fully realized numbers were those that combined aerial and floor work. As one who dances the leader’s role in social tango I found myself amused by the advantages of having a follower able to defy gravity and go this way or that with the slightest push of an arm or leg.
The show is a series of individual numbers held together by a live orchestra and runs just an hour. This meant that it built just to the point where my questions about how to resolve the formal tensions had been well answered. I would have liked for it to have gone on for a little longer, perhaps in the form of a reflective coda to the dramatic finale
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