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Forever Tango

Sexy is too bland a word for what happens in "Forever Tango," an evening of dance, music and song that has played Chicago and Los Angeles, and now taken Toronto by storm. (Next March this company moves to Broadway.)

Sexy is too bland a word for what happens in “Forever Tango,” an evening of dance, music and song that has played Chicago and Los Angeles, and now taken Toronto by storm. (Next March this company moves to Broadway.)

Perhaps the attraction is “Tango’s” fulsome emotion so openly expressed, or perhaps it’s that these dancers do things with their bodies that leave little wonder about why the pope banned the tango in 1914. Legs slide up into crotches, male hands flit and drag across female breasts, and skin-tight dresses show off every body line.

Six hot couples spin, kick, stretch and shimmy, capturing the different stages and traditions of a dance that began in the bordellos of Buenos Aires around 1880 and has since moved into international mainstream culture.

Carlos Gavito, for example, dances the dignified milonga, an indigenous folk dance from a bygone era, while Karina Piazza exemplifies the new generation of classically trained dancers with extensions and spins. Ballet skills are incorporated throughout the show, with some spectacular lifts. In fact, what makes “Forever Tango” so fascinating is its balance of styles.

Creator Luis Bravo wants to do much more than merely heat up his audience: He has set out to showcase the history of tango, and through that, the history of Argentina.

That’s why “Forever Tango” offers as much music as dance, all of it overlaid with the haunting sound of the bandoneon. The 11-member orchestra stays onstage throughout and performs with passion and precision. Popular singer Carlos Morel, a kind of Argentine Frank Sinatra, turns in two solos.

But it is the dance that gets audiences to their feet. Like the gypsy-born flamenco, the archly erotic tango reaches deep into the soul, embodying strength, freedom and self-expression.

Forever Tango

Winter Garden Theater, Toronto; 1,000 seats; C$59.50 top.

Production: A Hugo J. Bandi, Interamerica F.C. Inc., Follows Latimer, Jam Prods. and Baci Canada presentation of a music/dance performance in two acts, created and directed by Luis Bravo. Musical direction and arrangements by Lisandro Adrover.

Creative: Choreography and lighting, Bravo; sound, Tom Craft; costumes, Maria Del Carmen Spingola and Argemira Affonso. Opened Oct. 24, 1996. Reviewed Nov. 9. Running time: 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.

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