Hot tango

Given choreographer Paul Taylor's self-described "insatiable itch to communicate to the world at large," it was surely only a matter of time before he turned his seasoned eyes down south. In his newest piece, "Piazzolla Caldera," he does just that, lifting the tango right out of Argentina's back streets and working-class bars, cleaning up the intricate footwork and dropping it onto stages across the country. The critically acclaimed tour includes a weekend stop in Dallas' McFarlin Auditorium.

The show will include two other pieces: "Mercuric Tidings," a classically conceived, lyrical choreography set to Franz Schubert's music, and "Eventide," sentimental and nostalgic with its pastel period costumes and music by Ralph Vaughan Williams. All three works showcase Taylor's style, defined as "very versatile, and accessible to a lot of people" by Cyndi Shailer, dance instructor for 25 years, now with the Art of Dance studio. "The company offers a combination of artistic expression and entertainment."

"Piazzolla Caldera" allowed Taylor to use his gift for tapping into popular forms of music and dance. London's Sunday Telegraph once said Taylor's works have a universal appeal because "they are about people, about the way they feel, they way they interact, and about their social institutions." "Piazzolla Caldera" tells the story of men and women (or men and men, in one case) and how they meet, flirt, fall in love, fight in a bar over drinks, and tango.

The choreography is taut, tense, and frankly sensual; the music is by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla, whose work Pablo Neruda once described as echoing "the flawed confusion of human beings...worn away by the labor of hands, impregnated with sweat and smoke, smelling of lilies and urine, splashed by the labor of what we do, legally or illegally...impure as old clothes, as a body, with its foodstains and its shame, with wrinkles, observations, dreams, wakefulness, prophesies, declarations of love and hate..."

Taylor's charged choreography captures all of that--the red and black background, the posturing groups of men in black vests or undershirts, and the women in ruffled dresses and heels give the audience a glimpse into a steamy bar somewhere in Buenos Aires.

"'Caldera' in English means the rim of a volcano," explains the 67-year-old Taylor in an interview with Vanity Fair. "In Spanish, it means cauldron. I was hoping people would get a hot feel..."

"[This choreography] is a picture of primal urges," he adds. "It's meat."
Enough said.

--Juliana Barbassa

The Paul Taylor Dance Company will be at SMU's McFarlin Auditorium on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $7-$42 and can be purchased at the TITAS box office at 3101 N. Fitzhugh Ave., Suite 301, or by calling (214) 528- 5576.

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Juliana Barbassa