Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango” is back, with Anna Trebunskaya─ 6 performances, at San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial Theatre, February 14-19, 2012
Looking for some sizzle around Valentine’s Day? Luis Bravo’s Forever Tango is back for a limited run of just 6 shows at San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial Theater, February 14-19, 2012. I saw this show in 2010 when it did a holiday stint at the same venue and was mesmerized by its intoxicating music and dance. This run features a world-renowned cast of Argentine dancers and musicians and stars Anna Trebunskaya, who appears frequently on Dancing with the Stars (DWTS), now in its 14th season. Trebunskaya, a petite Russian fireball with incredible rhythm, elegance, and pizzazz, has helped create some of that show’s most memorable moments. On Season Two, she was paired with football great Jerry Rice and the duo made it to the finals, and ultimately earned a second place finish. Her other DWTS partners have included model Albert Reed, funnyman Steve Guttenberg, Chuck Liddell, Olympian Evan Lysacek, NFL Hall-of-Famer Kurt Warner, and Boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard. For the thirteenth season of DWTS, Anna was partnered with fashion expert and TV personality, Carson Kressley (“How to Look Good Naked” and “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”). The two were an instant hit. It’s reasonable to be particularly curious about how a Russian, albeit a fiery one like Trebunskaya, will interpret an art form synonymous with Argentina. Luis Bravo has a habit of headlining DWTS stars with his Argentine cast and, in 2010, the Bay Area’s Cheryl Burke was featured. Once the dazzling show starts, the headliner is usually outperformed by the Argentine cast who have tango in their DNA. Nonetheless, watching this transpire is a good part of the fun.
The Argentine cast of Forever Tango features 12 world-class tango dancers, one vocalist and an on-stage eight-piece orchestra, including several bandoneóns, the accordion-like instrument that is the mainstay of tango music. If you’re intrigued with Argentine Tango, this is the show for you: it traces the tango’s colorful history from its beginnings in turn-of-the century Buenos Aires bordellos to its acceptance into high society. The dances, all performed to original and traditional music, are the result of collaboration between each couple and director/creator Bravo.
“The tango is a feeling that you dance,” says Bravo, “a story you tell in three minutes. It’s passionate, it’s melancholic. It’s tender, violent. You dance it with somebody – but it is so internal, you dance it by yourself. More than just a dance, the tango is music, a drama, a culture, a way of life.”
While Trebunskaya may be the headliner, it is the stunning Argentine, Marcela Durán, who frequently moves the audience to tears with her evocative dancing. Durán, who has been with the show since 1994 and has won all the world’s top tango dancing awards many times over, embodies tango like no other. When I saw her in 2010, with the sensational Gaspar Godoy, she literally melded into Godoy in a pure sensual embrace, her signature version of the “tango hold” which is one of the foundational characteristics of the dance. In a flowing dress by Brazilian costume designer “Miro” (Argemira Affonso) with a sheer lace bodice that revealed her breast, Durán was mesmerizing to behold. Connected by the upper part of their bodies, often looking into one another’s eyes, or dancing cheek to cheek to the rhythm of the music, Durán and Godoy became one. The rhythm of the music which is often said to be based on the heartbeat, created a haunting and deeply melancholic tone that produced a surge of raw emotion I can still recall.
The performance schedule is as follows: February 15, 16, 17 at 8 p.m. February 18 at 2 & 8 p.m. and February 19 at 2 p.m. A special Valentine’s Day (February 14, 2012) performance of Forever Tango will take place in the beautiful and elegant Commandants Room at the Marines’ Memorial Club and Hotel, just upstairs from the Marines’ Memorial Theatre. Tickets for regular performances of Forever Tango range in price from $45 – $70. Tickets for the special Valentine’s Day Gala are $80 and include Gala performance, post-performance dancing with the Forever Tango cast and orchestra and two beverages of your choice. All tickets are on-sale now at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre Box Office, online at marinesmemorialtheatre.com or by phone at (415) 771-6900.
Luis Bravo’s “Forever Tango” –Authentic Tango with one exception: Headliner Cheryl Burke wouldn’t make the cut in Argentina– at Marines’ Memorial Theatre through January 12, 2011
Forever Tango by Luis Bravo has added two additional dates to its run at San Francisco’s Marines’ Memorial Theater, and now goes through Wednesday, January 12, 2011. The show headlines Bay Area native Cheryl Burke of Dancing with the Stars as well as 12 world-class Latin American tango dancers and master Argentine vocalist Martín de León. A wonderful 8-piece on-stage orchestra features three bandoneóns, the accordion-like instrument that is the mainstay of tango music. If you’re intrigued with Argentine Tango, this is the show for you: it brings an intoxicating display of passion and prowess to the stage as it traces the tango’s colorful history from its beginnings in turn-of-the century Buenos Aires bordellos to its acceptance into high society. If you’re expecting to see a lot of Cheryl Burke’s exquisite dancing, be warned Burke makes only three appearances and is out of her league amongst these Latinos who dance the tango with the intensity, passion and precision that it demands. It was a shrewd marketing move to use Burke’s name to draw in a wider Bay Area audience but ultimately Burke who is usually a very technically impressive performer, falls short.
Created and directed by Luis Bravo who plays the cello in the orchestra, Forever Tango features 19 dances, 14 of which are full tangos danced by six couples, each displaying a unique style. The dances, performed to original and traditional music, are the result of collaboration between each couple and Bravo. The ensemble numbers are not as emotionally charged or as enjoyable as the couples’ numbers. The show is performed in two acts and runs 2 1/4 hours with intermission.
The original production was a hit San Francisco in 1994 where it played for 92 weeks. In June of 1997, Forever Tango opened on Broadway where it played for 14 months and earned rave reviews. The show garnered Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations, and became the longest-running tango show in Broadway history, a record that still stands. Forever Tango has since toured the U. S., Europe and Asia.
It is the striking and technically stunning red headed Argentine Vanessa Villalba whose two solos and three duets with partner David Leguizamón laid down a standard which few matched. Villalba, who joined the Forever Tango cast in 2007, delivered a sultry combo of sensuality and mental chess— she began with a series of very staccato and dazzling quick leg movements around her partner, Leguizamón, which drove the audience wild and ignited him. In touch with each other, the floor, the music they entered a prolonged state of intimacy that was at times charged and at times meditative, their bodies and psyches in complete synchrony.
Marcela Durán, a Forever Tango icon who has been with the show since 1994, spoke a different, softer more sensitive language in her two duets with the sensational Gaspar Godoy. In a flowing dress by acclaimed Brazilian costume designer “Miro” (Argemira Affonso) with a sheer lace upper bodice that revealed her breast, Durán was mesmerizing to behold. She literally melded into Godoy in a pure sensual embrace, her signature version of the “tango hold” which is one of the foundational characteristics of the dance. Connected by the upper part of their bodies, often looking into one another’s eyes, or dancing cheek to cheek to the rhythm of the music, Durán and Godoy became one. The rhythm of the music which is often said to be based on the heartbeat, created a haunting and deeply melancholic tone which moved many audience members to tears.
Details: Forever Tango runs through January 12, 2011 at Marines’ Memorial Theatre. The 650-seat Marines’ Memorial Theatre, 609 Sutter St. (at Mason) near Union Square, is on the second floor of a 12-story Beaux-Arts-style building built in 1926 as the “Western Women’s Club” and bought by the Marines Memorial Association in 1946. The main floor lobby contains a display of military memorabilia, most notably the bell from the USS San Francisco. The second-floor lobby bar serves refreshments before the show and during intermission. Tickets: $55 to $100. Marines’ Memorial Theatre Box Office, second floor, 609 Sutter St. (at Mason), San Francisco. Purchase by phone at (415) 771-6900 or online at www.marinesmemorialtheatre.com.
Napa Performance: Friday, January 14, 2011, 8 p.m. at Lincoln Theater Napa Valley, Yountville. Tickets: $49 to $69. Box office: 100 California Drive, Yountville, (707) 944-9900 or http://www.lincolntheater.com/