QuinTango began their 10th year of appearances at Piccolo Spoleto with a program focusing on the contributions of women to the music and dance of this dramatically sensual, yet complexly controlled form. Phil Hosford, the pianist and sole male member of the group, welcomed the audience and jocularly introduced the four other members as the women he "knows." Founder and violinist Joan Singer then began the program with "Gran Hotel Victoria," an urbane and flowing piece with a hefty dollop of humor thrown in for good measure.
Where was the fire? Where was the raw, naked sensuality? Ah, like a first glance caught from across the room of a crowded club, the intent needs naming before the fire consumes, and building that longing sense of desire must come before the sparks fly. Our second tango, "Gricel," did just that with its restless plea. Two dancers appeared for the next work, and it became apparent that while our show would delve into all aspects of women in tango (heartbreak, mother figures, and the unattainable), its programming would itself play out as the rising heat of seduction.
"Los Mareados" (The Tipsy Ones), a rumination of the heartbreak of lovers becoming a part of each other's past featured some wonderful interplay between Joan and her counterpart on violin, Jennifer Rikard. And the heat was starting to rise. Flowing urbanity gave way to staccato pops and syncopation of a decidedly hip-moving nature in "Ojos Negros," in spite of (or was it because?) its sorrowful nature. Two more dancers took the stage for "Desde el Alma," and by its end the audience was decidedly more vocal in its appreciation.
We moved into tango's "Golden Age" with Carlos Gardel's "El Día Que Me Quieras," featuring cellist Kerry Van Laanen and Libby Blatt on the bass. This classic tango elegantly summed up all that had preceded while further stoking the fire, and funneling attention toward what was to come. The rapid fire of "La Puñalada" left no doubt that twining limbs and the flush of Eros incarnate lay at the bulls eye of this target!
With intent laid bare and pulses rising, "Historia de un Amor" featured three dancers in a tango inspired by the legend of Eva Perón's love triangle. This sense of complexity and heat only grew as Astor Piazzolla's "Fuga y Misterio" and "Canaro en Paris" closed the show and brought the audience to its feet.
Brandy and Stephen Rozier, Erin Bolshakov and Harby Gonzalez, our dancers, all performed with the group during the encore. Again the audience leapt to its feet.
QuinTango's sound draws from nearly all forms of tango while creating a unique and accessible look at tango's continuing evolution. Act II of this performance focuses on the men. There are still several showings of both left, so if your pulse needs a good raising, grab your partner and let this slow cooker work its magic on you both! —Robert Bondurant