Partnership, the life and core of the Argentine tango, is a means of exploration for the artists of TangoMujer, an all-female dance ensemble performing in Denver as part of the 3rd Annual Memorial Day Tango Fest. "The girls alternate between leading and following," says Scarlet Antonia, manager of the New York City-based company.
Though the dancers of TangoMujer usually pair with each other, dancer and co-founder Valeria Solomonoff has partnered with her own shadow and even herself as she portrayed both man and woman. She explains that in any untraditional partnership, character motivation and development are more important than in a traditional male-female partnership.
"You can't buy the audience with romanticism," she says. "You have to be very specific in what you want to show and who you want to play."
Because tango is really a social dance, it has to be adapted to the stage. The style of TangoMujer is rooted in tango but incorporates elements of modern dance and theater to create a story for the audience. The choreography is a collaborative effort of the troupe's five dancers, who come from different cultural and artistic backgrounds but are all strong leaders and followers in Argentine tango.
"We are so different, and yet we are expressions of similar desires," says Solomonoff.
TangoMujer will perform at 7:30 tonight and at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 25, at the Cleo Parker Robinson Theater, 119 Park Avenue West in Denver. Tickets, which can be purchased at the door or online at www.tango.org, are $20 for tonight's performance and $15 for Sunday's; the Sunday show will be followed by a question-and-answer session led by the dancers. Call 303-388-2560 for information. -- Jonelle Wilkinson Seitz
Out of Africa
African Liberation Day blends cultures
Boubacar Diebate is clear about the type of music played by his band, Dialy Kounda: west African. But that description covers a lot of territory. Although he was born in Senegal, Diebate says he's influenced by Mali traditions. His musical brew cooks with different regional influences, too, since members of the group hail from various parts of the African continent. And that's not counting the saxophone player, who was born in the U.S.
Tonight this musical blend will set the tone for African Liberation Day, a forty-year-old celebration honoring freedom and unity.
"There are thousands of Africans here in Colorado, and not all of them know one another. This is a way to get together," says Boubacar, who organized a similar event last year. His group will be joined on stage by Kutandara, another African band, in support of local pan-African charities that are in dire need of donations. "Last year, several brothers died, and it was very difficult to take them back home," he points out.
Tones from Boubacar's 21-string harp and other sounds straight out of Africa will fill the Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, starting at 8 p.m.; for tickets, $10, call 303-786-7030. -- Ernie Tucker
Bang for Your Buck
If you think war is hell, a pair of productions sponsored by Denver's LIDA Project Experimental Theatre Company opening this weekend might cement your values. Promethean Theatre's adaptation of Edward Bond's apocalyptic The War Plays and Ami Dayan's one-man performance of A Tale of a Tiger, Dario Fo's political paraphrase of a Chinese folk tale, are in repertory beginning tonight and continuing through June 22 at LIDA, 2180 Stout Street. (The War Plays shows at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and A Tale of a Tiger runs at 3 p.m. Saturdays and 8 p.m. Sundays.) Admission is $15 to $16 for either performance, with a half-price package deal on the second show for those purchasing tickets for both. For reservations, call 303-282-0466 or log on to www.lida.org. -- Susan Froyd
Fusion, Not Confusion
Cordell Taylor weds art, experimental tones
Cordell Taylor Gallery will unleash a little hot fusion tonight. Starting at 6, photographer Cinthea Fiss, sculptor John McEnroe and painter Colin Livingston will be featured in an "artist talk"; that informal session will be followed at 8 by a gallery-sponsored experimental-music gathering. The pairing of events is an experiment in itself.
"We've tried different things, but sometimes the number of people who attend an experimental-music night depends on how the artists network," says gallery director Ivar Zeile. "So we decided to try this."
The talks are key to most of the gallery's exhibits, because "the art we deal with is so open to interpretation," he explains. But tonight's musical display could be, too: Avant-garde musician Jeph Jerman creates sounds from objects, not instruments. As an added bonus to this double dose of culture, gallery visitors can look for pinhole frescoes poked in gallery walls by artist Harry Walters, who will also perform unconventional music.
"We're excited, because we really don't know how it will turn out," Zeile says.
If you want to witness the experiment, take a trip to the Cordell Taylor lab at 2350 Lawrence Street, 303-296-0927. -- Ernie Tucker