Dallas — Making its Dallas debut this weekend at Dallas City Performance Hall in a TITAS Presents concert, Argentina’s Estampas Porteñas Tango will present its newest production, Deseos...Stories of Longing and Desire.
Deseos is a celebration of the tango, the athletic malambo of the gauchos, and the musical styles of Argentina. This new creation will include a multimedia element: projection mapping. This method of illumination and projection will allow the stage to be transformed from a train station in rural Argentina, to a milonga in an urban barrio, to an outdoor plaza in Buenos Aires. It is the most adventurous and tech-savvy work by this 14-year old dance company, and it’s one that will push the company forward into a new era.
Estampas Porteñas was founded in Buenos Aires in 1996 by distinguished dancer and choreographer Carolina Soler. In its first year, the company toured China, performing more than 60 shows, created “Music in Buenos Aires,” a commissioned work by the Argentinian government as a gift to the city, and became the standard for performing tango companies.
Since then the company has toured through Taipei, Guatemala. Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, the UK, Wales, Spain, China, Korea, Malaysia, South Africa, Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, the US, Canada, Turkey, Italy, and Thailand. They have also performed at notable festivals, include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And Soler, herself, is no stranger to Texas. The Institute of Hispanic Culture in Houston commemorated her career when former mayor Bill White proclaimed Oct. 14 as Day of Estampas Porteñas.
But how did this all begin for Soler? We interviewed her earlier this month to learn a little more about the woman behind one of the best tango companies in the world.
When did you first begin dancing, and what were you originally trained in?
I started studying classical ballet at eight years old. At 17, I began training at the School Ballet of Teatro Colón, and the next year, I entered a competition to become a member at the ballet stable at the Teatro Colón. In this audition only nine of 300 dancers were selected to get in the ballet company, and I was one of them.
Was there one particular moment when you knew that dance would be an integral part of your life?
The only particular moment was when I left my country [Peru] and came to Argentina, to the Teatro Colón. This [was] the beginning of a professional career of dance for me.
When did you make the transition to tango?
[At] this time, the things were difficult in the ballet, and I was looking to fill my heart. I saw a tango dance couple on TV and soon I knew that the tango was my way. I studied tango with the late Rodolfo Dinzel…and the process became easier than ballet, more natural in form. In the beginning, I was a dancer in my company, but later, I wanted to just work as a director.
How does dance inspire you?
Dance is my life. [But, first,] the music inspires me and gives me the forms in my mind, and after, it comes into my body. Then comes the dance, and the possibilities that can happen for a choreographer and dancer.
Who or what are you currently inspired by?
I’m currently inspired [by] the Deseos story. I wanted to tell a love story like Romeo and Juliet, and within it, situations that [are] currently happening, people traveling to seek a future elsewhere, the farewells, the disagreement, the disappointment, selling, trafficking, society, and love.
What was the motivating force or factor behind you starting Estampas Porteñas?
Only my love for the tango and my desire!
What has been one of your most memorable experiences on tour?
One day, a producer told me, after he saw my show, that it [was] as beautiful [as a] movie, but he needed all of audience to be standing up and clapping.
He wanted a standing ovation? Applauding from their seats wasn’t enough?
Yes! I couldn’t believe that he told me, I hated him, but that night, I was thinking [about his] words. After that, I worked a lot on the show. I worked hard, and the next tour in South Africa…and the tours after that, it happened, the audience clapping and standing up.
So, I guess in some strange way his words worked. Interesting. So, you’re bringing tango to new audience and in a way preserving the history of tango. How does that make you feel?
I feel very comfortable, and I’m working on delving more [into] the true essence of tango dance.
When your company comes to Dallas this month, what piece will be performed?
Deseos, [and it] is not a conventional show, it is like a musical theater/tango. It tells a love story between Charlo and Margot. We have music and songs from 1939 [and] before, [that tell a bit of] folklore [or are] Creole milonga, malambo, milonga orillera, and tangos. It is very attractive and rich. There are a variety of dances for you to enjoy. There is everything in this story.
What do you hope audiences take away the performance?
Deseos is a musical tango that the audience will feel vibrate from the stage. A real history, that happened and is happening. The audience will live, [they will feel the] uncertainty, happiness, suspense, emotion, love, and will [want to] dance with their heart.