Monday, January 18, 2010

Tango & "FĂȘtes de la Nuit"

One of my first Tango instructors from Buenos Aires pointed out to me that the real Tango is not about sex, or romance, or even seduction. That pervasive stereotype often includes over the top images of lovers passing flowers from mouth to mouth which has nothing to do with the original form. Tango, she told me, is about memory. When one is dancing, one is remembering--not only their past but their present and future. So, Tango is really about longing whether it is the longing for the future or the regret of the past.
I was excited to hear this for many reasons. As an actor, I'm reminded that the Theatre also plays on our memory. It is unique however in Tango that the act of remembering is both intensely private for each of the dancers while also being a sublimely shared experience. Tango is, after all, two people moving together as one--two individual events entirely connected. These contrasts (private yet shared, isolated and intimate, solitary and mutual) are rich for any performer. Tango requires a heightened sense of listening which changes the performers' presence. I completely identify with this as an actor because presence is about listening and listening is acting.
I'm so thrilled to be asked to collaborate on the upcoming production of FETES DE LA NUIT at the Ohio Theatre in New York. FETES DE LA NUIT is a joy ride through Paris by the playwright Charles L. Mee, Jr. This non-linear play challenges the audience's expectations by mixing both authentic French sensibilities as well as our American perceptions of Paris. The play is filled with lovers, music, coffee, smoking, dancing, fashion, eating, drinking, and philosophizing. The director of the production, Kim Weild, has invited me to collaborate with her in making Tango a part of this glorious world by performing with the lovely Mirabelle Ordinaire. In collaboration with choreographer Mariana Parma as well as with Mirabelle and myself, Kim Weild has integrated Tango as a kind of anchor for the entire play. FETES DE LA NUIT is largely about communication. Likewise in Tango, there is a dialogue happening in the heat of the moment. At times sexy or humorous. Or even sad and mournful. There are sophisticated politics inside the dance form. Everything is a negotiation. One must make space as well as time for the other. It is inherently dramatic. There is such a fine line between fighting and dancing, or between leading and following.
In Weildworks' production of FETES DE LA NUIT, Tango is the metaphor for the essential requirement for all of our life relationships, and that is presence. True, honest, and emotional presence. Charles Mee's FETES DE LA NUIT is about the joy and the difficulty of connecting between different worlds, whether between two lovers, two nations, or two cultures. This is definitely a play for the 21st Century.
FETES DE LA NUIT runs Feb. 8 - 27, 2010
at the Ohio Theatre in New York City
For Tickets CLICK HERE
Photo by Carol Rosegg