Their name can be translated in English as ‘Buenos Aires Stamps’ – a fitting name for a tango company that has been transporting Argentina’s heart and soul around the world. Estampas Porteñas are the proud inhabitants of Buenos Aires – widely known in Argentina as porteños, which refers to people from a port city. And out of their port city, they have been hitting the stages of more than 20 countries over the five continents since their foundation in 1997. Now it’s Macau’s turn to feel the pulsating passions of Desires.
Award-winning Carolina Soler, whose career began and soared through classic ballet, is choreographer and artistic dancer driving this tango company. With a history of over 20 years, Estampas Porteñas have created many celebrated tango pieces, with Desires a lavish celebration of a dance that seeks to take the audience right back to the roots of the genre. As Soler puts it: “We are returning to true tango, embracing its true essence. The part of Malambo and folkloric dances is what dance was like in the past – and even today is still danced in the city of Buenos Aires.” Feelings of longing and desire embrace the audience, allowing it to participate in the story, as the cast flares up the stage in an intense series of romantic and fatalist songs, intertwined in the most seductive dance on the planet.
The origins of tango can be traced back to the African slaves, who have chiselled Argentina’s culture. By the time slavery was abolished in the country the word tango meant the place where Africans and creoles gathered to dance. Its popularity rose further when, like many other parts of Latin America, Argentina underwent massive waves of immigration from Europe and Russia at the beginning of the 20th Century. The deep sense of longing that immigrants felt was reflected in tango, in the same way that the African rhythms – together with the Argentine fast-paced polka, or milonga – provided the relaxation and distraction that these men were looking for. Tango would very soon capture the attention of the upper classes, making its way to other Latin American countries such as Uruguay before expanding globally to Paris, London and New York.
In Desires – set in the 30’s in a rural village outside the city of Buenos Aires – the culmination of Tango’s history up to the present time is celebrated with many forms of tango in a wide display of different styles. We are taken through the story of Margot, the female protagonist, who decides to leave everything behind and move to the big city. Following a farewell party thrown by her friends her boyfriend Charlo desperately chases after her to save her from the dangers of the capital.
Described by The New York Times as ‘a fresh perspective on the tango tradition’, Desires is a true time travel pod. As Carolina Soler explains: “The music we use in Desires goes back to tunes prior to the year of 1939, up until the music of (Astor) Piazolla, with live musicians. We dance to folklore, milonga creole, Malambo, milonga orillera, tangos and bass drums”.
Filled with passion, jealousy and passionate dance, Desires is a flawless production from both technical and emotional standpoints, merging interactive 3D projections, a whole cast of dancers, musicians and a singer bringing elements from the past and proving that tango hasn’t stopped reinventing itself.
As a Christmas present to Macau, Estampas Porteñas will provide the opportunity of learning and further exploring the senses of tango with a workshop and pre-performance talk that give a better insight into the show prior to it running for two days – on 26th and 27th December – in the Grand Auditorium of the Macau Cultural Centre.