DANKO is the creation of Carlos Paredes, who, with his partner Diana Giraldo, in 2006 pulled off the first non-Argentine victory in the world championship for Stage Tango. It plays tonight at the Boulevard in Queens. I saw the show last Sunday at the Kimmel Center and was thoroughly entertained by Paredes’ charming company of mostly young and aspiring dancers from his hometown of Cali, Colombia.
The concept, which took a while to hit its stride on Sunday, is that Danko, a building custodian, is going about his work when he comes upon a group of dancers performing (or rehearsing?) their show. He is unfamiliar with the usual conventions of theatergoing and talks over the dancing, harasses the audience, goes onstage himself, breaks into the acts, and tries to imitate what he is seeing. Danko is, of course, Paredes, and in the course of the show he goes from being hilariously “bad” (only a great dancer can play a bad one amusingly rather than cringingly) to little by little assimilating himself to the higher qualities of the art. By the finale – which stirringly recaps the Colombian triumph in Buenos Aires – Paredes has shed his janitorial garb and becomes the seasoned performer, earthy and graceful by turns, that he is in life.
The dance in DANKO is not limited to tango, but includes a full panoply of styles, including salsa, jazz, hip-hop, and various fusions. Nor are the show’s media restricted to the comedic mixture of clown show and dance performance. Paredes makes remarkable use of film and video to accompany the dancers, whose onstage moves in several acts mirror those in the footage that is playing (including that of the 2006 competition). There is a good deal of wit and humor in addition to the buffoonery of Danko himself, such as dancing with mops and broomsticks, those old standbys when you need to practice without a partner.
I wish I could put all the names with the faces; there is great talent and an ingratiating potential to this visiting company, which is called Jacaranda. There is nothing in DANKO that isn’t authentic or sincere. That what I assume to be a shoestring budget shows a little, or that there are bugs still to be worked out in the concept, actually adds to the impression.
To view the trailer for DANKO, click here.