Direct from Buenos Aires, the prestigious Argentine dance troupe Tango Fire lights up the stage of the Merriam Theatre on Oct. 20 at 4 p.m.
“Tango Fire,” the genesis of young choreographer German Cornejo, incorporates new acrobatic and ballet elements into traditional tango moves.
“We feature 10 dancers — five recent world tango champions — accompanied onstage by four Argentine musicians,” Cornejo explained.
“Because the dancers are stars in their own right, the individual couples choreograph their own solos while I try to refine the steps as they would appear in the traditional world of Argentine Tango, allowing the dancers creative freedom.”
The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires was formed in 2005, holding its premiere in Singapore in April of that year, rapidly gaining in popularity as it took to stages around the world.
“Today, the tango is truly universal,” Cornejo insisted, “danced and accepted by everyone. In 2009, UNESCO (a United Nations agency that promotes culture) even recognized the tango in its cultural heritage lists.”
Although the true origins of the tango are somewhat vague, it is generally believed that it developed in the 19th century in working-class neighborhoods along the Argentine waterfront. And it didn’t come into its own until it was brought to Paris, where it caught fire among the elite. Its popularity then grew as it moved to other world capitals and finally to the United States.
“Our program is divided into two parts,” Cornejo said. “The first part tells the history of the tango, tracing its roots. The second part brings it to the 20th century, where it has become perhaps the world’s most alluring and exciting dance form.”
Cornejo, 27, began studying the tango at the age of 10 in his native Argentina. By 15, he obtained a degree with the honorable title of Master of Tango. In the following years, he broadened his skills by studying classical and contemporary ballet, jazz and acrobatic techniques, which he seeks to incorporate in the dances he brings to the public.
“But I never shy too far away from the classic tango, even as I’ve traveled around the world letting it be seen and enjoyed by many cultures,” Cornejo explained.
Cornejo is regarded as one of the best teachers of Show Tango in Buenos Aires, with many of his students reaching top positions in the finals in the Tango World Championships — a fact he’s quite proud of.
Tango Fire has been praised by critics everywhere, and Cornejo believes the tango continues to gain in popularity as time goes on.
“I think as we grow further apart from others because we work alone on our computers and so on, we do more and more solitary things. The tango allows you to come closer to your partner, to another human being.”
And that allows for a mix of emotions that cannot be denied, he adds.
“The tango is danced by two people who eventually feel like just one, with more contact than any other form of dance affords. There’s really nothing like the tango to have person-to-person contact, which is so very important.”
For times and ticket information, call 215-893-1999. ••