NUIT BLANCHE (2010) – Press review
The New York Times
“Feisty and seductive…”
“Seven dancers and four live musicians both honor and liberate the genre, taking tango to places you’d never expect to find it.”
The Village Voice
“The performers are simply wonderful. The women are glamourous and shimmering. The men are virile and debonair.”
“Nuit Blanche carves out its own inventive space between concert dance and dance theatre, honoring the many influences on tango music and dance over the past hundred years.”
“This is tango as contemporary theater, not as classic exhibition – there is also much to savor in this evening of stylized storytelling.”
“In Nuit Blanche, seduction and its components of passion, envy, friendship, and the celebration of love and its defeat, are combined with results that are sexy, hopeful, and comedic.”
“Nuit Blanche really ignites when the dancers perform the traditional duets that show these superb tango artists in their mastery of the art form in all its passion and glory.”
“Performing to an exceptional live quartet of Buenos Aires musicians on bandoneon, violin, piano and double bass, the show’s seven dancers trace the arc of a long, tempestuous evening inhabited by milongueros with movie-star glamour.”
Union Tanguera heats up Byham Theater with fancy footwoork
Welcome back to the first night of winter, a man’s voice said jokingly over the loudspeaker as he welcomed the audience to the Union Tanguera performance on an unseasonably cold Saturday this weekend. But the Argentinian-French tango company had a cure for that, at least for nearly a couple of hours. Its performance of “Nuit Blanche” (meaning “Sleepless Nights”) was a tantalizing display of fabulous footwork and electric embraces that heated up the Byham Theater as part of the Pittsburgh Dance Council’s 2014-15 season.
The close-knit cast whisked us into the intimate confines of a cabaret-milonga, or nighttime tango club. A “traditional” tango show had recently ended, so the story went, and now the performers and their audience lingered after hours to dance into the night. They slinked across the stage, mixing tango moves with more pedestrian gestures, such as passing glasses and slipping off sport coats, that made the whole scene feel authentic. Their interactions (a little flirting or clinking of glasses in a toast, for instance) gave the show its personality, plus lots of little nuggets of activity to guide the eye like something out of Twyla Tharp’s nightclub-set “Come Fly Away.”
After some initial mingling, they settled into the red bean bag chairs on the minimal set and watched as a couple performed a sultry duet while the on-stage quartet serenaded them with their instruments. It climaxed in a fast-paced series of staccato leg flicks and locks for which the Argentine tango is known. Throughout the evening the dancers took turns stepping into the spotlight. Sometimes it’s just the men — or just the women. Other times it was a romantic rivalry between a woman and a couple of men vying for her attention. In one of the sillier scenes, two male dancers — one seated on the other’s shoulders — danced with a woman, taking turns holding her hands and ponytail.
The bean bag chairs took on personas all their own, too, as the evening evolved. Dancers slung them over their shoulders, toting them like mammoth hobo bags. When they swung behind them, a man caressed and ogled the ladies’ voluptuous (faux) assets. When the men got too fresh, women used the bean bag chairs to keep them at bay, even piling them on top of one particularly frisky fellow to great laughter from the crowd.
After the elixir of heavy dance, drink and desire set in, it was time to call it a night. The musicians started to pack up. The dancers shared their final steps. Among the most memorable was a sensual, lyrical rendezvous between a couple, with the woman barefoot and her hair down. The beauty of “Nuit Blanche” is that it’s more than just dazzling dance. It has heart, soul and humor thanks to the loose stories woven throughout. It’s the kind of dance that can make you forget about your problems — or, in this case, a frozen night in spring.
By Sara Bauknecht
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – March 29, 2015
2 dancers for 1 extraordinary life-courses!
In 1992 (Claudia Codega and Estaban Moreno) meet Guy Darmet, director of the Maison de la Danse (Lyon). Thanks to him, Lyon simply became one of the world capitals of dance. Darmet also created the Bienal de la Danse. In which he assures the artistic direction.
In 2005, they create their first show. Efecto Tango coproduced with the Maison de la Danse. Surprise, they are not in the place where we were waiting for them. Let´s say, they are where they should be, with the intention of joining, mixing and fusing tango in a different way. They propose in this way a show that allies dance and theatre. They try a very contemporary dance keeping the stage in a very tango style… an ambitious and difficult show for their first experience, the mixture of these two styles, tango and modern dance, placed obviously opposing one another. Although, it is already a matter of making an evolution in the choreographic tango, of giving it an expression and modern identity.
In 2006, a new collaboration, but with the Bienal this time, which sees the birth of their second show, Tango Vivo. Apparently, the demand was very explicit, the Bienal wanted tango! On stage, four couples with a traditional choreography in presence of excellent musicians.
In 2010, their third creation by request of the Maison de la Danse… Unit Blanche is at first the idea of our two main characters, a creation for which they initiated a close collaboration with the company Modos Vivendi, directed by Jorge Crudo and Rolan van Loor, two modern dance dancers with a very rich professional background.
They really worked into the choreography together, with a beautiful mixture in which each of them gives what they practice and know best, maybe what is more alike to them too. The show is developed in an hour and a half in which different expressions share the stage. Tango, of course, modern dance, a very theatrical sainete and surprise! Singing performed by Esteban in a solo. I didn`t expect it and even though it wasn`t perfect, it was beautiful and surely touching… we discovered him deep and a bit grave, but fine. Then, all the female dancers dance together in a short song very cabaret.
On stage, an orchestra which plays music almost essentially composed for the show. Claudia is moved when she explains this opportunity and this luxury of being able to dance music created and inspired on her dance.
During our meeting, they gave into a free conversation; both of them more than ever continue their choreographic search, multiplying the meetings with other artists and the will of sharing, reuniting knowledge, the possibilities. They experience the pleasure of team working not only with friends but with artists chosen by mankind.
They took risks consciously to try to imagine what tango could be like today… as what happens in Buenos Aires where young artists also create shows in a much simpler way. They recognize it; they feel privileged and truly appreciate their fifteen day performance in a Maison so huge.
Faithful, they are also to Guillermo Monteleone, photographer artist and witness of the entire evolution and he is who offers us those magnificent photographs. Also faithful to France, even though Claudia makes clear that she has never left Argentina and where she has settled definitely again. At the beginning, we could have said that talent does not wait years…two decades later I dare say that talent is also built in years…
By Sylvie Krikorian
La Salida n. 68 le magazine du tango argentin – May 2010
Unión Tanguera transports its sexy Nuit Blanche to Berkeley
1913 was an infamous year in the history of music and dance, the year that Stravinsky and Nijinsky unleashed Le Sacre du Printemps on an unsuspecting Parisian audience, provoking a riot. But it was also the year that the world went tango mad. All of Europe was dancing it, although it was denounced as soul-corrupting (“Tango defeats Vatican” screamed a December headline in the New York Times: “Strenuous efforts made by the Vatican to suppress the tango dancing-mania in Italy have proved a failure.”) It was the first couple dance ever seen in Europe that invited improvisation. Legend has it that Parisian women abandoned the corset in order to dance the tango.
100 years later, the French-Argentine Unión Tanguera is keeping us up at night at Cal Performances in Berkeley with Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night), their imaginative evolution of tango into a loosely spun tale of “alcohol and isolation”, the program notes tell us. As the evening winds down at a cabaret-milonga (tango nightclub) – that would be breakfast time for Americans – the tango performers mingle with the clientele, pick fights, have sex, and ruminate on existential issues, as boredom and disappointment set in.
The stage is divided by panels of scrim that serve principally to separate the musicians from the dancers, and provide various entrance and exit points. Composer-pianist Pedro Onetto wrote the bewitching score, mostly played live, that traipses easily between generations of tango and integrates pulsating electronic sounds. Camilo Ferrero played a mean bandoneón while Marta Roca sizzled on violin and Ignacio Varchausky served up driving rhythms on double bass. The only other set element were three large, squishy beanbags that performed triple duty as seating, as stylish accessories that the women toted around, and as weapons to fling at each other when tempers flared.
Three central duets establish a clear progression, starting with Lucila Cionci and Rodrigo “Joe” Corbata, who dance as if they are devoted lovers but erupt in conflict as soon as their “performance” is over. Second are Claudia Jakobsen and Jorge Crudo, who are dizzy in love but may not have their feet on the ground. Finally to Esteban Moreno and Claudia Codega, who appear to have found that elusive, perfect communion.
These duets are offset by ensemble numbers, all in an offbeat and mostly entrancing fusion of tango styles with contemporary dance, in which traditional embraces are often abandoned, innovative grips introduced, and embellishments such as acrobatic and balletic lifts seamlessly incorporated. Gravity of a Martha Graham nature frequently pulls the dancers down to the floor. The concept of leading and following takes on new dimensions as a man crawls on the floor, his hands wrapped desperately around a woman’s ankles, or as a woman dances with two men, one of whom is perched on the other’s shoulders, experimenting with various holds, to comical effect.
The tradition of cabeceo, the courtly non-verbal invitation to dance, is quickly tossed out the window, as the four men and three women pair off restlessly in various permutations on speed dating. Men occasionally dance with men and women with women, but the same-sex partnering – powerful and athletic – seems to banish intimacy; the partners size each other up, perhaps as rivals for the same woman, or man’s, affection. (A reminder that tango was often danced by men with men, at a time in history when European men immigrated in droves to build the nation’s infrastructure, and competed for scarce women by showing off their mastery of the dance form.)
Passions ignite, couples start rolling on the ground, and the men bounce off the women in decidedly uncourtly fashion, sending tango aficionados in the audience scrambling for their tango rule books. We’re thinking this is perhaps not a high-class nightclub, but one of the seedier variety.
The fire engine red bean bags are deployed to hilarious effect in one episode, as the women sling them over their shoulders like giant handbags. The men fondle the bean bags, as if they were inflated extensions of the women’s anatomy. The bean bags get in the way of a close embrace, however – one of several gags underscoring men and women’s inability to connect – and by the end of the number, the women peevishly flatten the men underneath a three-bean-bag pile-up. Claudia Jakobsen and Jorge Crudo dance a lyrical, balletic duet with many swirling lifts, Jakobsen in bare feet. Echoes of Pina Bausch come through in Jakobsen’s obsession with shoes: she insists on trying-on a reluctant friend’s shoes, and jabbers on like a Valley girl about her love for shoes, in one of several spoken segments (difficult to make out given the lacklustre acoustics at Zellerbach Hall).
Onetto’s evocative piano ushered in the final, fluid tango of the evening with a dignified, melancholy Despedida, the sound of falling rain – or someone running a bracing cold shower – in the background.
Brainchild of Unión Tanguera artistic directors Claudia Codega and Esteban Moreno, who collaborated with Jorge Crudo and Rolan Van Löor on the choreography, Nuit Blanche carves out its own inventive space between concert dance and dance theatre, honoring the many influences on tango music and dance over the past hundred years. On a dance form structured simply on an embrace, a walk and a stop, they spin a modern tale of dancers who cannot fully separate their lives on stage and off, who fuel their fantasies with alcohol, and invent a nostalgia for a time and place that never really existed.
by Carla Escoda
Bachtrack – November 20, 2013
In ‘Nuit Blanche,’ Union Tanguera dancers give the tango a 21st century makeover
Tango, the “dance of seduction,” and an historically transgressive one at that, gets a 21st-century makeover in “Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night),” the latest work by celebrated French/Argentinian company Union Tanguera. Performing to an exceptional live quartet of Buenos Aires musicians on bandoneon, violin, piano and double bass, the show’s seven dancers trace the arc of a long, tempestuous evening inhabited by milongueros with movie-star glamour.
The curtain rises to an after-hours nightclub party in full swing, the women slinking in shimmering cocktail dresses and sky-high stiletto heels, the men debonair and festive. The orchestra is jazzy and up-tempo, the wine abundant. This is tango as contemporary theater, not as classic exhibition, and if the miming and carousing are essentially broad-brushed comedic devices, there is also much to savor in this evening of stylized storytelling.
Fits of pique, broken hearts, dangerous attractions, boozy camaraderie – the mood of “Nuit Blanche” is uninhibited, raw libido one moment, slapstick buffoonery the next. And somehow it works, largely because this technically gifted ensemble, under the co-artistic direction of Claudia Codega and Esteban Moreno, doesn’t take itself too seriously.
The choreography plays to the dancers’ strengths: Claudia Jakobsen is feisty and seductive, blessed — as is Rolan Van Loor — with a gift for physical comedy. Van Loor also heads a modern tango company with fellow dancer Jorge Crudo, and their intricate, contact-heavy duet of forbidden love speaks to years of partnering and intuitive chemistry on the proscenium stage.
Lucila Cionci and Rodrigo “Joe” Corbata are stunningly paired in floor-skimming slides, footwork scissoring with lightning speed and lush wrapped-legs dips. Cionci knows how to slowly draw out a phrase to extreme tension, then whip into a furious trill of slicing feet. Corbata, especially in the jealousy scenes, has the brooding charisma of a young Marlon Brando.
Codega and Moreno’s duets are regal, almost balletic, and deeply attuned to the music even at blistering speeds. Where much of “Nuit Blanche” traffics in swagger and overwrought emotional cliches, their faces are cool and formally elegant. It’s their movement that embodies all the fury and passion and melancholy of the score.
To their credit, Codega and Moreno are reimagining the traditional tango as a dance that goes beyond the frisson of a couple’s close embrace to one that can be danced on the floor or barefoot, in trios or even as a company darting and weaving in fast, intricate knots. For all the graphic sexuality and prop-heavy silliness of “Nuit Blanche,” there is sweetness and a feeling of mutual support as the band members leave the stage one by one, the party fades away, and one dancer contentedly remains, sending wine glasses lazily rolling across a now-empty dance floor.
By Catherine Thomas
Special to The Oregonian November 18, 2013
Union Tanguera’s Sleepless Night
A nuit blanche, (sleepless night in English), is something many of us may have recently experienced at SFTM this past weekend. A night of which we do not sleep, is apt to be full of surprises and unexpected twists, much like a good story.
Thus I expect the latest production by Union Tanguera (directed by Claudia Codega and Esteban Moreno), shall be equally intriguing. The show is only one night here in the Bay Area… this weekend at Cal Performances, UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Hall. At this posting, tickets are still available. One can’t help but be enticed by this description:
“Nuit Blanche is a tangueran exploration about night. An exposure of its demons, fears, desires, instincts and fantasies…A club, one night, a crowd: a sleepless night. A sleepless night to light the night, when alcohol and isolation bring people together…and tango as the only way to let the bodies express themselves.”
Nuit Blanche or Sleepless Night, first performed in 2010, is the third creation of Union Tanguera. The music is a combination of traditional tango recordings with live original compositions. Both acoustic and electronic sounds converge to create a unique soundtrack performed by some of Buenos Aires’ finest musicians and featuring a quartet of violin, bandoneon, piano, and double bass.
I’m sure most of you have heard of Claudia and Esteban. They are globally recognized teachers and choreographers. For those who don’t know, here is their bio: Claudia and Esteban first met in the early 1990s in Buenos Aires and have been dance partners for over 20 years. They are part of the generation that is credited with recovering the tango and creating the conditions for its current popularity. Inheritors of the greatest Tango Maestros of the 80s and 90s, between the pure tango inheritance and search of evolution of this dance, they have created a style which has been transformed into a reference for the new generations of dancers and teachers of tango. Their dance unites the essence and the heritage of the “tango de salon“ with the evolution and the fantasy of the “new tango“. Claudia and Esteban interpret styles in a transversal way, analyzing the possibilities of movement and the communication, in the logic of the improvised tango. They continuously tour cities around the world and return regularly to Buenos Aires where they dance and teach workshops in festivals such as CITA or World Tango Festival.
They formed Union Tanguera in 2002 in Lyon, France. Union Tanguera has been supported by Tango de Soie, a school and home for tango in Lyon, since 2006 and has formed many important partnerships with various funding institutions in France, including La Maison de la Danse de Lyon.
Their first first full-length piece, “Efecto Tango” in 2005, was born out of an investigation of how to reformulate the theatrical expression of tango while respecting the purity of the traditional social dance. Their next full-length work, “Tango Vivo” toured France, Italy, and Switzerland in 2006 and 2008. Both productions were co-produced with Lyon’s Maison de la Danse.
Their third full length performance, also co-produced with Lyon’s Maison de la Danse, is “Nuit Blanche” which toured throughout France and Italy in 2010 and 2011. This is the first time the show is performed here in the U.S. The work is performed by 7 dancers and 4 musicians. The 7 dancers include: Lucila Cionci, Claudia Codega, Rodrigo Joe Corbata, Claudia Jakobsen, Jorge Crudo, Esteban Moreno and Rolan Van Loor. I’m sure many of you must remember Joe and Lucila’s performances here at Antipanico last year, filled with drama, passion and technical precision. Plus, they are both fun and sweet. It will be great to see them on stage in this show.
Along with top notch dancers, the music will also play a large role in the show. Original Music composition are by Pedro Onetto. Orchestra musicians incude: Pedro Onetto, Nicolas Rainone, Marta Roca Alonso and Camilo Ferrero.
SF Love Tango – November 12, 2013