Opus Number: 106
Music: Astor Piazzolla and Jerzy Peterburshsky
Set and Costumes: Santo Loquasto
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton
Date First Performed: June 12, 1997
Notes: Neruda wrote of poetry that mirrors “the flawed confusion of human beings,” poetry “worn away as if by acid by the labor of hands, impregnated with sweat and smoke, smelling of lilies and of urine, splashed by the variety of what we do, legally or illegally… as impure as old clothes, as a body, with its foodstains and its shame, with wrinkles, observations, dreams, wakefulness, prophecies, declarations of love and hate, stupidities, shocks, idylls….” He might have been describing the predatory dance that originated in the brothels of Buenos Aires at the turn of the 20th Century: tango. The music of tango – with Spanish, Italian, Indian, African and Jewish influences – was taken to new heights by Astor Piazzolla. Without a single authentic tango step, Paul Taylor captures the essence of tango culture. In a dimly lit dive, working class men and women confront each other in sizzling sexual duets and trios: men with women, men with men and women with women. Two men too drunk for conquests perform a loopy dance as lamplights sway dizzily overhead. A woman who has searched desperately for a partner but failed to find one, collapses – as if mortally wounded by a night without passion.
“Stunning. Taylor looks at the attitudes implicit of the tango – as sexual game, as social identity – and reshapes them. Seethes and flares with sexuality and develops a huge erotic charge. One of Taylor’s most astonishing (even for him) creations.” – Clement Crisp, Financial Times of London