The Song of Eva Perón
Tango Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Artistic Director: Rosario Bauzá
Music Director: Fernando Marzán
Choreographer: Hector Falcón
Regisseur & Scriptwriter: Lucrecia Laurel

"Repeatedly crafted swirling, fast-paced tapestries of movement, laced with proud postures and sensual couplings"
– The Washington Post

Asia Première

Only the soul-searing tango fully evokes Evita’s legendary life

Born in an impoverished village in 1919, Eva found her place in the glittering world of Buenos Aires, where her beauty and charisma helped husband Juan Perón rise to be the country’s president. Evita, as she was affectionately called, also won nationwide respect for her tireless advocacy for the poor. Tragically, her rags-to-riches tale ended at the age of 33, but when her brief-yet-dramatic existence was later immortalised in a Broadway musical, and a Hollywood film, fascination went worldwide.

Direct from Buenos Aires, Argentina, Tango Buenos Aires spent two years creating this entirely new tango production, focusing on highly expressive dancers who use the language of the sultry tango to enact turning points in Evita’s life. Numbers range from the newly invented to more traditional lines, including a phenomenal rendition of Boleadoras folk dance. A top live band and vocalist add to the sizzling atmosphere, delivering original works and classics, including Matos Rodríguez’s La Cumparsita and Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion. A performance that leaves an indelible impression.

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre
MAP
16-18.10
(Fri – Sun)
7:30pm
$480
$380
$280
$180*
* Some seats may have a restricted view
*Some seats may have a restricted view


Friendly Reminder
Photo credit: Lucrecia Laurel
Trivia
Global theatrical innovations from Poland
Theatre of Death
Artist and director Tadeusz Kantor (1915-1990) refused to be guided by texts, placing the emphasis on the visual elements of theatre. Kantor combined radical props and stage design with happenings (different art forms brought together in a live performance) to manifest the absurdity and emptiness of reality. In 1975,Kantor created Dead Class, a controversial play from which he developed the Theatre of Death concept, probing such motifs as death, memory, spiritual transcendence, and the most basic human desires.
Poor Theatre
This form of theatre is derived from the ideas and work of director Jerzy Grotowski (1933-1999). Poor Theatre seeks to distil the essence of the dramatic art form. Grotowski argued that interaction between actors and spectators is the only necessary element in theatre, with lighting, sound effects and set design minimised in his productions. In his view, even the stage could be abandoned. Grotowski also developed training methods that demanded his actors constantly engage in self-exploration, fusing their inner beings into performances.
Foyer Performance
Tantalising Tango

The enticing tango is Argentina’s unofficial national symbol and an international dance phenomenon. In this demonstration, Hong Kong DanceSport Association invites notable local tango pairs to perform characteristic moves, accompanied by live commentary to introduce the dramatic dance. Also features a special demo by Tango Buenos Aires.

Moderator: George Yip (Chairman, Hong Kong DanceSport Association)
Performers: Gordon Wan, Yobilia Tang, Sam Liu, Liu Wan-hin
Special Guests: Dancers from Tango Buenos Aires

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Foyer
MAP
17.10
(Sat)
3pm-4pm
Free admission
Pre-performance Talk
Pre-performance Talk: The Song of Eva Perón

Already a highly successful musical and film, the legendary life of Eva Perón is given another brilliant interpretation in Tango Buenos Aires’ dance music production. Join cultural critic Tang Ching-kin to explore the captivating pairing of Evita and emotive tango.

Speaker: Tang Ching-kin (Cultural Critic)

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Level 4 Foyer
MAP
17.10
(Sat)
7pm
Free admission

Friendly Reminder
  • Limited seats available on a first-come-first-served basis
  • In Cantonese

Organised by the International Association of Theatre Critics (Hong Kong)
Eva in Tango

Lok Ya / Freelance writer.

The Song of Eva Perón by Tango Buenos Aires brings together two world celebrated jewels from Argentina in one evocative showcase: the story of the nation’s most eminent First Lady, Eva Perón, portrayed through the dance that is an Argentine treasure.

The life of Eva Perón, one of Argentina’s most legendary figures, was the quintessential Cinderella story. Born in rural Argentina, she left home at 15 to pursue her dreams of stardom in the nation’s capital Buenos Aires, where she rose to fame and later married Colonel Juan Perón. When her husband was elected the President of Argentina, Eva became First Lady of her land. To many, her life represented an impassioned crusade for the rights of women and the lower class (though not everyone shares this view). After becoming First Lady, Eva founded her own charitable foundation to help the underprivileged, offering them employment, healthcare and education opportunities. She also campaigned for equality for women in Argentina, such as the rights to vote. Her short life may be considered a herald of women’s involvement in politics. After her husband came to power, she became heavily involved in the work of the government; even setting her sights on running for vicepresidency later on, but renounced her ambition because of opposition from the military and her declining health.

Her colourful life has inspired countless works of art including from books, musicals and films, the best known of these works are Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical Evita, and the film adaptation featuring Madonna in the lead. Yet such artistic renditions are often glorified glimpses, or narratives tailored to fit the artistic formats they are presented in.

Re-creating Eva Perón’s life through tango and music may be the most fitting kind of rendition. Declared as part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage by the United Nations, tango is a dance beloved worldwide and the most widely known cultural activity from Argentina. Tango stresses flexibility and agility of the dancers, whose seemingly effortless movements embody fluidity and elegance. The movements of the male leader and female follower are intriguing and sensual in their close embrace, yet never overtly so. While there are various theories about the origins of this expressive and performance- driven dance, most agree that it bloomed from the influx of immigrant workers into Buenos Aires from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. Tango began as a popular activity among the working class that Eva Perón held close to hear heart, before it went on to become the social dance that captivates Argentina and the world.

The Song of Eva Perón starts with Eva’s leaving her hometown and how she meets Perón and becoming First Lady of Argentina, and does not touch on her life in social affairs and politics. In this light, the performance draws its inspirations and billing from the story of Eva Perón; in essence, it spotlights the variety and techniques of tango as well as the Argentine charm.

The choreography of Act I ‘The Rise of a Star’ features Argentine folk dances. At Eva’s departure from home, her family and friends bid a fond farewell dancing Zamba, a traditional dance from the north of Argentina, and ‘Las Boleadoras’, a masculine and dynamic dance that originated from the gauchos subduing cattle with their long ropes. Tango, the dance which symbolises the Argentine capital, sweeps in with Eva’s arrival in Buenos Aires. The ‘milonga’, a popular kind of dance party across the country, lights up the eclectic showcase of tango on stage. In Act II ‘The Rise of Love’ where Eva and Perón meet and fall in love, the tango dance reaches a mesmerising climax as the music soars. Thus, The Song of Eva Perón starts from the story of its heroine and blooms into a tango feast.

My Tango Obsession: About An Age-Old Sorrow

Tang Ching-kin / Theatre critic from Hong Kong.

“Tango is a brothel dance,” wrote Argentine literary titan Jorge Luis Borges.

At a milonga I mentioned this quote to a friend. She frowned and did not seem to believe what I had said. The historians told us long ago that this Argentine treasure, which was born at the end of the 19th century, originated from various social and cultural elements — the brothel was only one of them. Yet I knew my friend is more of a milonguera who loves the tango party, rather than a tanguero like me who probes the origins of tango culture. I said no more and invited her to dance with the cabeceo, an invitation to dance that is unique to the milonga. She nodded, her eyes beaming. I took her hand and we walked to the dance floor.

As the idiom goes, “It takes two to tango”. Tango is a dance between two persons, yet the cultural imagination of tango among most people has stemmed from the spectacle rather than the dance. Many love the classic scene from Scent of a Woman, where Al Pacino’s blind lieutenant colonel dances an impromptu tango with a beautiful young woman who is not versed in the dance. In Happy Together, Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung tangoing in an Argentine kitchen makes another portrayal of an illusory beauty. At the time, I did not know any better than to believe that tango was what it was depicted in the films — a cheap, fabricated kind of romance.

Years ago I saw a tango theatre show called Tango Una Leyenda, which was probably my earliest visual memory of tango other than what I had seen in films. The principal dancer was the legendary tango dancer Miguel Ángel Zotto. It astounded me to see a certain timbre of tango in his dance: an age-old sorrow, one that was rarely portrayed in films. Many Argentine dance troupes touring internationally feature a particular element in their shows, which is narrating the history of tango through the dance. Whether tango was once a brothel dance is beside the point. The point to ponder is that tango was indeed born in a time and space inhabited by the marginalised and the lower class. At the end of the 19th century, Buenos Aires had just entered the age of urbanisation and it experienced the influx of immigrant workers, who lived in the shadows of poverty and dangers around the city. They entertained themselves with music and sought solace in spontaneous dancing, instilling into their dance a primitive wildness from Africa and Latin America. Tango was born a passion steeped in sorrow.

The sorrow haunted me for a few years. I listened to many different versions of Por una Cabeza, the classic tango song featured in Scent of a Woman. I also learnt that Wong Ka-wai had used the music of Astor Piazzolla in the soundtrack to his film. I listened to the music with my eyes closed. Soon the vacant dance scenes faded away. Only the music — a musical form also named Tango — existed. The rich double bass followed the soaring violin, and the rhythm of the piano stirred. A dark and deep timbre intruded into my consciousness; the strange sounds of a musical instrument morphed into heart-rending vocals of an old man, singing about the past of an unknown land. I woke up from the trance as an unnameable sorrow shot up my spine. It was only when I started learning tango at a later time that I discovered the name of this essential instrument in tango: bandoneon.

Bandoneon has the power to take away the cultural backdrop of my everyday life, and replace it with the night scene from the La Boca bario from the golden era of tango in the early 20th century. I pressed my friend’s chest against mine in the close embrace that is a unique feature of tango, dancing the steps I had learned in class. I stepped into the space between her legs, led our legs to entangle in a strong beat, or simply led her to follow my steps in our slow and gentle walk around the dance floor, as a male leader and a female follower do in tango. In that moment I lived in myself, for the first time, the imagination of tango I had drawn from music and films. At last I grasped its cultural imagination. That age-old sorrow was not just a feeling. It was the god of tango making his way from a bygone brothel to my body tangoing with another’s, evoking through our dance the sorrow from the end of the 19th century.

And our passion came to a halt with the end of the four-song tanda.