So much about 8cho, the aerial tango show playing at the Adrienne Arsht Center through June 30, sounds so seductive: live music, sexy tango dancing - sent swooping into the air with rigging. But at its Friday opening, 8cho proved to be less than compelling, a well done and moderately entertaining show with only brief flashes of excitement.
Just over an hour long, 8cho mostly doesn’t achieve either the intensity of true tango or the wild visual pleasures and kinetic adventurousness possible with aerial dance. Choreographer Brenda Angiel may be Argentine, but she didn’t intend to make a true tango dance here. Yet by taking on the style’s form but only partly committing herself to its qualities, she ends up with something that feels watered down theatrically and conceptually.
8cho sets seven fine dancers in a series of duets, solos and groups accompanied by an excellent ensemble of six musicians: a bandoneon player, violinist, pianist and guitarist, with contrabassist Juan Pablo Arcangeli and drummer/vibraphonist Martin Ghersa credited for the original music, with some trendy electronic elements, that makes up most of the score. There are also a handful of older traditional tangos and one by Astor Piazzolla.
The use of singer Alejandro Guyot seemed incongruous; his explanatory introductions of his songs broke up what would have otherwise been a smooth flow of imagery and music, and his rather teacherly presence didn’t fit the show’s theatricality. What was a guy in a tweedy jacket doing in this sequence of surreal dances?
Some of the dances were compellingly lovely and strange. The opening featured Cristina Tziouras and Maria Lujan Minguez, in old-fashioned black lingerie, suspended high above the stage, twisting around each other and linking legs in an upside down dance. In the wrenching Piazzolla song Solo, Lucas Coria swung from a cable attached to one arm, his whirling circles and sudden drops echoing the desperation of the music. When tiny blonde Viviana Finkelstein hung suspended in the air, arching and flipping amidst clouds of dry ice, she seemed a kind of fantasy. Later, she hung above partner Mauro Dann, both bare-chested, skin gleaming in moody lighting, as they performed a dreamlike and intensely sensual duet. Juan Manuel Iglesias dances with a suspended Maria Lujan Minguez in a traditional tango, swinging her into ever greater arcs in the air or down to the floor to increase the dance’s drama. There’s a stirring sequence for three couples, with the women spinning through the air around their partners.
But the qualities that make tango so exciting – the physical tension of its sharp lifts and kicks, the dramatic tension between partners, the way the back and forth physical tension is a metaphor for attraction and repulsion – mostly disappear when the dancers keep sailing into the air. While that can be thrilling, after a while the swinging becomes monotonous. And the ways in which the aerial moves increase tango’s emotional drama also seem repetitive after a while. The more purely aerial sequences, like a cute bit where we see just the legs of a man and two women flirtatiously kicking above the stage, or a quartet forming slow, interlocking patterns against a back wall, feel visually and physically limited. 8cho is a pleasant, but not a riveting, dream.