Polly Ferman’s Glamour Tango: A Celebration of Women in Tango
October 24, 2016
Polly Ferman has a relaxed drive, a percussive clarity, in her piano playing. Uruquayan born, New York based, Ferman introduced "Polly Ferman’s Glamour Tango: A Celebration of Women in Tango" program at The Poisson Rouge by explaining that women were once forbidden to dance tango. She created her homage to women in tango from a feminine, not feminist, perspective, she said. Projections of vintage video appear on the 2 walls behind the musicians: girls shocking their mother by dancing together, a hand pulling a net stocking up a leg very slowly, a woman pinching her side burns into a curl, applying makeup, an all female orchestra from 1934, Rudolf Valentino and his partner who clings to him as though he were the only raft on an ocean of loneliness.
Her company of ten brings enormous experience and expertise. Ina Paris, five time prizewinner in the Cuban National Competition, plays with a powerful tone, and instantly makes us feel the spirit of tango. Equally penetrating is her Argentine singer Mariela Marco, whose first notes assure you of her abilities. The dancers, Mariana Parma, Vidala Barboza, Romina Levin, Valeria Solomonoff, Karina Romero, are striking, with evident ease, effortless high battements, lunges, light, tight footwork, sharp head turns.
Ferman’s concept is to bring us into a woman’s world, and to explore tango in a world far from a bordello or a milonga. The program includes solos, duets danced with the two women on opposite sides of the stage facing the audience, duets with women holding each other’s forearms, giving them space between each other, and choreographies that mix all four combinations. Ferman also bows to the instinct of women to dance in their nightgowns, alone in their boudoir.
But lets face it, something is missing. The intense connection between two dancers - whether male/female, male/male, or female/female, is something we expect in tango. With no bandoneon, the music lacks a rough, sensual extension and drop. With many of the dances, though well danced, lacked clarity of focus.
Ferman begins her program with Daniel Binelli’s Aguellas Comparsas. Binelli is an internationally renowned master of the bandoneon and Ferman plays in his group, so it’s not as though she prefers tango without its singular sound of the bandoneon. It must be that a great, female bandoneon player, on the level of the rest of the cast, is simply hard to find.
EYE ON THE ARTS, NY -- Deirdre Towers