Hard to see many similarities between the two extremes of the dance spectrum that opened this week - Tango must represent the sexiest, most lustful, of all the social dances while ENB's ballet Alice in Wonderland is irrepressibly innocent fun - no darker or seamier sides on display here I think.
The 'bloke' in me found Tango por dos (at London's Peacock) perhaps the greatest fun. Nothing to do with the dance on stage necessarily since some ladies in the audience had chosen to come in tango garb of (very) split skirts with stocking and suspenders/underwear all on display. In its way it was innocent fun, like the Alice, but lovely stuff and reminiscent of the NBT Dracula that usually brings out a clutch of vampires and their quarry to everybody's wider enjoyment.
If no stockings, there was rather less innocence on display on stage - this was real moody and lustful stuff particularly in the first half of the programme which was more about popular dance tango and its routes. Of course it's the incredibly speedy leg movements one marvels at - that and the trust of the men who allow 4 inch stilettoes to come whistling up to within an inch or two of some very tender parts...
So much for the mechanics, but the dancers actually believe in the power of Tango to seduce, woo and convey love and it's the expression of that commitment that comes ringing through.
While I rarely watch ballet thinking I would like to be able to do it, I see Tango and think I would give an awful lot to have the confidence to do even a little of it at the right time. However the final part of the evening is much more about tango as cabaret and the costumes and routines become much more elaborate and OTT. Fun too but not quite the same for me.
In all there are over 30 pieces of dance or singing (dance mostly if you are worried) and it all moved along at a slick pace. At the opening night one of the two singers was indisposed, but the evening did not seem out of balance or particularly the worse for it. Tango por dos were over last in 1998 and rightly got good reviews. They are here now for 5 weeks and I can't recommend a trip for a tango fix too highly.
ENB's, or rather Derek Deane's, Alice in Wonderland opened in Oxford this week - complete with lots of children out for the night. From 1995 it has been out of the rep for a little while. I'm not sure how I previously managed to miss this, but it uses a mixture of Tchaikovsky pieces - arranged by Carl Davis - together with designs by Sue Blane, who went on to do their Nutcracker. It's colourful, full of magic stage effects which all work and was a most pleasant evening's watching. I wouldn't say there were phenomenal amounts of dance in it, but there is a well known story to be told here and it was well judged for a family audience.
Monica Perego danced Alice and reminded us again of what a good actress she is. But there were many cameo roles for people to experiment with and I particularly liked Erina Takahashi as the Dormouse and Chang as the White Rabbit, though it must be a sod to dance in such a restrictive costume. The Caterpillar who dances with, and for, Alice had some charmingly inventive and slowly oozing choreography which was much more knowing and serious than the rest. I hear that Christopher Hampson used to do this and I bet he sent it up beautifully.
Not so much more to say really - a great staging and if you have kids they would love it I'm sure. Perhaps you can even get the grandparents to take them while you bunk off to the Tango?!