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‘Puro Tango’ at Thalia offers dazzling, sexy fun

“Did that chap mean to knock his head on the streetlamp like that?” this startled reviewer wondered during the opening dance of “Puro Tango.”

Actually, he did — for tango, unlike flamenco, which was the last manner of dance this reviewer saw at the Thalia Spanish Theatre, can be funny and playful.

Indeed, tango, when danced as splendidly as it was by the three couples in this show, seems even more disciplined than flamenco — nothing seems to be left to chance on a stage that’s bare save the streetlamp stage right, and the band in the upstage area. This is good, given the scissoring feet, leg hooks, lifts and twirls performed by the dancers. No one either faltered or trampled their partner.

More, the women, like Ginger Rogers, do everything their partner does backwards and in such high heels that one wonders how they walk in them, much less dance in them with such effortless grace. While the men danced, usually, in suits which didn’t seem to restrict their movements at all, the women had to wear dresses, often decorated with lace and sequins, that had to know how and when to swirl, float and wrap and unwrap themselves around their legs, and jewels that had to sparkle under the sensuous lighting. At one point one of the dancers wore sequined stockings, which made a beautiful impact. Kudos to costume designer Soledad Lopez.

The women, of course, were tiny, as the men had to lift, carry and drag them around. The result of this precise choreography in which no dancer even broke a sweat, the costumes, the passionate musical direction of Raul Jaurena, even the way the women’s hair was slicked back into tight little buns, was a severe but energetic sort of sexiness.

The dancing couples were Carolina Jaurena and Daniel Raphael, Ana Padron and Diego Blanco and Daniela Pucci and Luis Bianchi.

The program was immensely enjoyable but brief, only about an hour or so, and the dance numbers were broken up by the singing of Marga Mitchell and Ernesto Camino, who sang together and separately — at the end of the show the audience happily participated in “Inspiracion.”

They sang in Spanish, and the reviewer, who didn’t get the words, certainly caught the mood of lamentation for lost love, though “Por Una Cabeza,” sung by Camino, seemed to lament his bad luck at the races. One could sort of tell because there was a video of a wild and crowded horse race projected onto the backdrop. Mitchell’s gowns were dazzling, and at one point Camino wore a suit reminiscent of Ricardo Montalban in “Fantasy Island.”

The musical instruments were traditional for tango music, with Avigail Malachi on the clarinet, Ali Bello on the violin, Pablo Aslan on the double bass, Octavio Brunetti (or Alon Yavai) on the piano, and band leader Jaurena on the bandoneon, an instrument of the concertina family — it looks like an accordion but doesn’t have keys. The musical numbers were played against backdrops of what looked like the streets and buildings of Argentina (and, once, the Eiffel Tower) and made one, on a rather chilly afternoon, wish to be seated in a cafe along some boulevard in Buenos Aires, where it’s warm.

The program was produced, designed and directed by Angel Gil Orrios.

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