Something like a Latin American breeze passed through Music Hall Wednesday evening, courtesy of the Fabian Bertero Tango Quartet, temporarily transporting the audience to Argentina and setting the scene for an evening of dance.
The instrumental solo was the introduction to “Tango Nocturno,” the opening performance of The Beirut International Tango Festival. The show featured three duets: Julio Balmaceda and partner Cecilia Gonzalez; Horacio Godoy and Magdalena Gutierrez; and Mazen Kiwan with Yamila Ivonne.
Accompanied by violinist Fabian Bertero, bandoneon-player Pocho Palmer, pianist Miguel Pereiro and double bassist Nicolas Zacarias, these dancers demonstrated the sensuality and strength of the form to what seemed to be an international audience.
Created in 2009, The Beirut International Tango Festival has proven surprisingly successful among local enthusiasts. Attracting local and foreign tango aficionados, the festival reflects the interest in Latin dance all over the country.
The 2011 edition of the event hosted Argentinean professionals Miguel Angel Zotto, Daiana Guspero and Cecilia Piccini.
Having set the mood with the opening instrumental piece, the evening moved on to the dancing. The first number gathered all three duets on one floor, introducing the audience to the dancers’ varied personalities and styles. As you might expect, the ladies were nicely dressed, while the men were embodiments of what some call elegance.
With Fabian Bertero’s quartet chugging along in accompaniment, Balmaceda and Gonzalez were a hypnotizing embrace in movement. It was impressive to see the trust and coordination of the two dancers. Their movement had a fantastical lightness about it, as though they were dancing on air.
Some spectators may have seen Godoy and Gutierrez to be embodiments of sensuality. The two dancers moved as one entity, with Guterriez demonstrating outstanding control, grace and power. Ivonne and Kiwan’s performance teetered on the edge of seduction – with the impression of emotional surrender tautly constrained by physical discipline.
At one point, they performed a maneuver that tango initiates know as the “volcada” – in which the woman leans forward and back-steps. Those innocent of the form may have imagined her on the brink of falling over, but that’s the beauty of the “volcada,” which mingles delicacy with quick pacing. Later, Kiwan lifted his partner feather-like into the air.
The Fabian Bertero Tango Quartet afforded solid accompaniment, with violinist Fabian Bertero demonstrating great dexterity, as did the violinist.
Although the musicians were obviously talented, at some points in the show the accompaniment was perhaps not as literal as some would have liked, with mid-tune pauses lingering a trifle too long, running the risk of having the assemblage of Argentinean sound crash to the ground. There was also evidence of improvisation, which may have disturbed some audience members.
Overall, “Tango Nocturno” offered up a fine showcase of the sensuality and rhythmic variety of the form.
The Beirut International Tango Festival continues until April 29. For more information, please visit www.tangolebanon.com.