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The International Language of Tango

Gardel’s Line heats up the Wildish Theatre with the sultry Argentine tango
Bruce Lundy and Kim Donahey

Tango is more than simply a dance; it is a means of seduction and romance. And while its origins are rooted in South American culture, the tango has become an international language. 

On March 21 and 22, the Wildish Theatre will host Gardel’s Line, a tango play written, directed and produced by Russ DesAulnier. “All plays have a platform; for this play, tango is that platform,” he says. But that platform is used to address contemporary issues ranging from marriage struggles to deception. “It addresses a lot about our society,” DesAulnier adds. 

Gardel’s Line is set in a bar and the characters bring their unique story lines to the dance floor using tango as their medium. Kenyon Acton, the play’s choreographer, has invested time and effort not only into the play, but into the tango culture itself. She spent a year studying in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she immersed herself in the passionate, collective dance experience. 

“Tango as a social dance is improvised whereas most performance dance is choreographed,” Acton says. “The show is portraying social dancers not tango performers.”

DesAulnier explains that the story line captures “the human imagination.” It has realistic drama complete with political jabs, struggling characters and comic relief. One character professes, “I don’t go to church anymore, but I got tango.” The play capitalizes on the idea of an engaging community. “People want to belong to something beautiful that’s engaging and that connects people,” DesAulnier says. 

The three-act play takes on a classic structure with conflict, resolution and, perhaps most importantly, a transformative narrative. The characters span various demographics, including a struggling MBA graduate who can speak two languages but can’t find a job. Another character, an Italian tango teacher, provides the play’s comic relief.

“I’m really excited for everyone involved, including the audience, to be excited about tango,” Acton says. “With social dances it requires you to have people to dance with so the more people that are excited about what you’re excited about, the better it is.”

 

Gardel’s Line runs 7:30 pm Thursday, March 21, and Friday, March 22, at the Wildish Theatre, 630 Main St., Springfield; $12.