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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
Performance Reviews
Argentine Tangos
The Joyce Theater
United States
New York City
New York
New York, NY

Boccatango - Ballet Argentino - Octango

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 2, 2004
The Joyce Theater
175 Eighth Avenue (at the corner of 19th Street)
New York, NY 10011

About the Author:

Boccatango - Ballet Argentino - Octango

Julio Bocca, Artistic Director, Choreographer, Dancer
Starring: Julio Bocca
Guillermo Fernandez (Singer), Cecilia Figaredo (Dancer),
Viviana Vigil (Singer), Hernan Piquin (Dancer),
Victoria Balanza (Dancer), Rosana Perez (Dancer),
Lisandro Casco (Dancer), Guillermo Gonzalez (Dancer),
Benjamin Parada (Dancer), Lucas Oliva (Dancer)

Musicians: Pablo Mainetti (Bandoneón), Pablo Agri (Violin),
Brigitta Dankol (Violin), Hernan Possetti (Piano),
Nestor Tedesco (Cello), German Martinez (Guitar),
Marisa Hurtado (Doublebass), Julian Vat (Flute, Sax)

Lighting Design: Omar Possemato
Costume Design: Orge Ferrari
Choreography: Ana Maria Stekelman
Musical Director: Julian Vat
Artistic Production: Lino Patalano
Press: Grant Lindsey, KPM Associates

With assistance from Laura Escalada and La Fundaçion Astor Piazzolla
and The Consulate General of The Argentine Republic in NY

Presented at The Joyce Theater
New York, NY

(See Julio Bocca at American Ballet Theatre)

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 2, 2004

Julio Bocca began studying ballet at age four with his mother in Buenos Aires and won the Gold Medal in Moscow at an International Ballet Competition in 1985. One year later Bocca became a Principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre (ABT), where he still stars in numerous full-length and repertory works. In 1997 Bocca became Artistic Director of Ballet Argentino, and he performs with ballet companies and in international festivals around the globe. (Program Notes) This reviewer has enjoyed Julio Bocca's performances at ABT since his debut. He garnered immediate attention in the dynamic dance of the Bronze Idol in La Bayadère. I also recall a Ballet Argentino performance some years ago that had a more classical approach than tonight's Tango genre.

I arrived at this event, as an inveterate Tanguera and fan of Tango music and history, as a longtime fan of Julio Bocca's ballet performances, and with a guest, Cecilia Saia, a Tango performer, who was in the original Forever Tango cast. I knew that this octet of dancers from Ballet Argentino would fuse Tango and ballet, perhaps with elements of modern dance, and that is exactly what happened. I knew that I would see virtuosic dancing from Bocca and his colleagues, that I would hear hypnotic scores and vocal solos, composed by Piazzolla, Canaro, Gardel, and other favorite Tango composers. I knew that there would be dark and steamy dancing, images of Buenos Aires, either visual or lyrical, both of which were presented, and I expected traditional Milonguero dancing (male with male), to which we were treated early on.

However, Tangueros and Tangueras usually desire authentic Tango dances performed to authentic Tango music, either traditional milongas (reserved for the comic pieces), traditional Tangos and Vals (reserved for the erotic or romantic pieces), or contemporary Nuevo Tango, such as the edgy Piazzolla and au courant pieces (for the intense, erotic, and daringly athletic works) now performed in the Milongas of the Tango scene (weekly dance socials) or onstage, such as in Avantango.

Yet, Julio Bocca, Ana Maria Stekelman, Julian Vat, and Lino Patalano took Argentine Tango emotions, visuals, props, some costumes, historical Buenos Aires film footage, Tango songs, orchestral Tango pieces for the bandoneón and piano, along with Omar Possemato's clever and appropriate lighting effects to create a sensational show for the Tangueros and the Tango neophytes that remains fixed in memory with elements of surrealism and sexual energy.

Julio Bocca performed one duet with Cecilia Figaredo, both nude but for black thongs, in a dimly lit ambiance of modern motif, less Tango, and certainly not ballet, with entwining limbs, lifts, and emotional/physical daring rarely seen on any stage in this city. It did not seem sensationalized for publicity, but rather pushing the envelope of the intensity of Tango passion and presence. In one solo, Bocca performed with a black table, lost in thought, until Ms. Figaredo arrived to seduce and abandon, very Tango, very connected.

The actual dancing in duets, to actual Tango music, lacked the physical gravity-balance skills so intrinsic to the Tango genre. This is best left to Argentine Tango shows, such as Forever Tango. However, in authentic Tango, one does not see the interwoven wildness of ballet gymnastics and mid-air leaps and extensions, multiple spins and potent interplay of dancer and above-stage space. Boccatango was extremely effective in combining Tango style and psychology (angst, love, loss, humor, patriotism, collegiality, and overt eroticism) with the orchestration, film, lyrics, and native performers of his beloved Buenos Aires.

Viviana Gil, a singer extraordinaire, with a voice of a canary or swallow, performed powerfully and magnetically. Guillermo Fernandez had a voice that was over-amplified and over-stated, but probably excellent in a small club or intimate stage event. The musicians were outstanding in their interpretation of Piazzolla's pieces, many of which I own, have danced to, and enjoy regularly, especially two of my favorites, Oblivion and Michelangelo 70. This music is usually performed live in smaller dance venues, so it is quite commendable that the orchestra was able to project so well at The Joyce. Especially notable were Julian Vat on flute and saxophone, a tremendous performer and one to watch. Pablo Mainetti brought maximum sound, so essential to Tango, from his brilliant bandoneón, and Hernan Possetti on piano was powerful and possessed.

Boccatango's dancing was memorable, in the end, for its daring interpretation of the sensual and striking Argentine Tango music and genre. Bocca's solo on the very tall ladder, as he athletically attacked this prop from all angles and heights, with dry ice floating across the stage, in surreal abandon, was outstanding. The male dancers in the background that gave the stage a Club effect were genuinely entertaining, in fedoras and signature black. Cecilia Figaredo is a powerful performer and one to watch, as she is accomplished at ballet, as well as in contemporary choreography and dramatic techniques. Hernan Piquin is also a dancer to watch, with class and charisma.

This US Premiere of Boccatango was hopefully the first of many re-emergences and presentations. Kudos to Julio Bocca, kudos to Julian Vat, kudos to Ana Maria Stekelman, and kudos to Ballet Argentino.

Cecilia Saia, Tango Performer, a Guest, and Stars of Boccatango
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Julio Bocca, Cecilia Saia, and Roberta
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Cecilia Saia and Julio Bocca
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Cecilia Figaredo, Boccatango Dancer
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

Viviana Vigil, Boccatango Singer
Photo courtesy of Roberta E. Zlokower

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