A chance to learn the dance of romance

Esa ràfaga, el tango, esa diablura

los atareados años desafia

hecho de polvo y tiempo el hombre dura

menos que la liviana melodia

que solo es tiempo

That devilry, the tango, that wind gust

surely defies the over toiled years

made of dust and time; man endures

less than the nimble melody, which only is time.

— El Tango, by Jorge Luis Borges


An exhibition of tango dancing this weekend at the newly named Segerstrom Center for the Arts comes with a bonus: It also will allow the audience to get in on the action.

In Tango Buenos Aires' "Fire and Passion of Tango," attendees will be given the chance to learn the history, evolution and fundamentals of tango while viewing several different styles of the dance.

In addition, ticket holders will be given free tango lessons at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday in the Arts Plaza adjacent to Segerstrom Hall, as part of the Center's Free for All Series.

"The tango comes from an underground dance," company Musical Director Emilio Kauderer said. "Because of its passion and its powerful sense of rhythm, it quickly got the attention of the big ballrooms, and it became more of a crossover around the world. It's difficult these days not to think of romance without having in mind the tango."

A little more than 100 years ago, the common people of Buenos Aires developed a new dance that also was based on European and African influences. It initially was shunned by the upper classes for its physical nature, before taking Paris and the world by storm in the decades to come. Since then, it has been embraced by audiences worldwide for its technical difficulty and aesthetic beauty.

Considered the world's most authentic company of tango dancers, Tango Buenos Aires brings Argentina's top performers on world tours where they may showcase their skills.

Originally created by composer Osvaldo Requena more than 20 years ago for a Buenos Aires festival, the company now thrives under the artistic leadership of Kauderer and choreographer Susana Rojo.

Kauderer is best known in the United States for his work as a film composer, including the 2010 Oscar-winning foreign film "The Secret in Their Eyes," the Latin version of the score for Disney's "High School Musical," and American films including "Conversations with God" and "Friends & Lovers." He also composed the main title song and additional music for Showtime's "Dead Like Me" series.

Rojo was one of the first tango dancers to perform worldwide in countries like China that had never seen the art form before, and has studied with countless tango masters while developing her skills in other dance forms and disciplines.

"We have a wonderful cast of dancers, and the musicians are the greatest," Kauderer said. "We wanted to do a show that would reflect the different styles of the music and the dance, so we tried to be loyal to the old sound and also tangos that everybody recognizes. I wanted to create a story that we can tell the audience while the show is going. So I needed to create some more arrangements to create tension and then intrigue, between the songs that are regularly played."

The musicians have their own band together and play in several Argentinean venues; they just released an album on Thursday. Similiarly, Kauderer said, the dancers have their own followings.

"We have five couples that work with us, that dance together all the time professionally, and they have their own careers as stars in their medium," he said.

"It's not just a cast that was gathered for the tour; they are couples that are very recognized in Argentina. Every couple has its own approach, so given the same music and the same choreography, they would improvise, like in jazz, with their own color."

Tango Terminology

Bailar: to dance

Caminada: a walking step

Compás: musical beats

Cuartas: dramatic poses

Eight-count basic pattern: the first non-walking elements learned by a beginning student

Espejo: to mirror the other dancer's moves

Firulete: a fancy movement used to show one's skill

Gancho: to hook the other partner's leg with one's own leg

Mordida: the "little bite" in which a dancer's foot is trapped by the other dancer's feet

El Ocho: From "eight" in Spanish, a type of walking step

Parejas: a tango couple

Pista: a dance floor

Planchadora: a wallflower

Rabona: a walking step derived from soccer players' movements

Sacada: a method of displacing a partner's leg or foot

Tanda: a multi-song set of dances

Tanguero/ Tanguera: a tango aficionado

Truco: a fancy, athletic dance trick

Vals: an Argentine waltz

If You Go

What: Tango Buenos Aires

When: Friday through Sunday

Where: Segerstrom Hall, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa

Cost: $16 and up

Information: (714) 556-2787 or scfta.org

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