Tango stars shine in Fusion's 'Nocturna'
WENDY LIBERATORE, Gazette Reporter 5/2008
SARATOGA SPRINGS -- There is little difference between those internationally touring tango shows and Tango Fusion Dance Company, which is based on Saratoga Springs. The energetic choreography, mostly created by the company's co-artistic directors Diane Lachtrupp and Johnny Martinez, is convivial and entertaining. The costuming, by Kim Vanyo, is both fetchingly sexy and elegant. And the dimly lit soirees, the backdrop for the all the action, are simply drawn, which is great as this leaves plenty of floor space to dance everything ballroom.
The discrepancy, between Broadway-honed and Tango Fusion, lies with the dancers. The 13, plus three guest stars, are a personable bunch who specialize in either tango, Latin or swing. But they have yet to present themselves as a cohesive package like the sleek world champions that roam the globe in the big shows.
That was evident on Sunday afternoon's showing of Tango Fusion's "Nocturna," at the Saratoga Music Hall. As expected, Lachtrupp and Martinez were tango knockouts. Fair, with heaps of wavy hair, Lachtrupp was ice to Martinez's smooth Latin heat. Together, they crackled.
There were other standouts too. Swing dancer Christopher Kilkenny was a charmer. He was well-matched with Liesl Bailey, obviously a talented actress. Depending on the scene, she came off sweetly naive or voraciously lusty. And it was impossible to take one's eyes off of Patricia Zeccola, a swarthy beauty who was able to do it all -- from swing to salsa, tango and merengue -- with conviction and vigor.
Guest artists Silvina Valtz and Oliver Kolker were also a stunner of a pair. Their flashy quick-stepping tango in the first act was one of the afternoon's highlights.
Actually, most of the dancers were aces in a specialty, even ballet and line-dancing, that brought atmosphere to "Nocturna." It just that Lachtrupp and Martinez have not had enough time with them, or the dancers with each other, to form a tight-knit, sharp ensemble. But it was only obvious in the group dances where individuality, polished in ballroom, overtook what was suppose to be synchronized moves.
Wisely, Lachtrupp and Martinez concentrated on solos and duets in which they took full advantage of the cast's strong suits. They achieved this in both acts -- the first being a fancy house party and the second, a night club. Each dancer came with a personality, or attitude, that kept the scenario ripe with entanglements -- some steamy, some humorous, others simply fun.
That's the thing about ballroom dance -- it's inherently dramatic and rich with subtext. As it involves two people, one who leads and one who conforms, narratives are not only universal but infinite too.
Hopefully, the cast can refine the ensemble pieces before Tango Fusion's next showing of "Nocturna" on Friday, May 16, at the Charles R. Wood Theater in Glens Falls.
Either way, it's a must-see for any ballroom enthusiasts and anyone else out to have an enjoyable time.
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