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Passion and flair

Otero Dance Company stirs the imagination with history of tango, salsa and gaucho dances at the Alex.

May 16, 2007|By Joyce Rudolph

The Otero Dance Company created a spellbinding journey through time, highlighting the origin of Latin dances from the 1800s to the present on Saturday at the Alex Theatre.

Opening the show, "Rhythm and Passion," was a segment set in a 1920s tango bar in Argentina. Singing and storytelling were interspersed with dances by enraptured couples and fight scenes between the men.

The female dancers' quick and precise leg movements were made even more dramatic by the costumes — red dresses with fringed hems or black skirts with thigh-revealing slits. Timing is vital as women are either extending a leg between the partner's legs or quickly wrapping and unwrapping their calf around the partner's leg.

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Havana 1950 at the Tropicana nightclub was the next stop on the trip. Men wore crisp white suits in contrast to the women's multi-colored costumes.

Show director Gloria Otero and assistant directors Claudio Otero and Jose Santoyo created choreography that was nothing short of spell-binding, according to many in the audience.

Act one finished with a spirited look at the Argentine cowboys — the gauchos — who stomped to the beat of mesmerizing drumming.

"It was awesome," said Tara Elizer, of Orange County. "It put me into a trance, especially the last part with the drumming."

The Gaucho segment was inspiring also for Angie Leo, of Glendale.

"It's really creative, energetic and enthusiastic," she said.

The show filled the need for more diverse entertainment at the Alex Theatre, said Angie Leo's daughter, Veronica Leo.

"It's nice that the Alex offers this diversity," she said.

The show's travelogue theme allowed Therese Delobel, of Los Angeles, to reminisce about her journeys abroad.

"I love the show because it reminds me of my trips to South America," she said.

Carey Jocker, of Hollywood, was not completely impressed, however.

"The tango should be very sexy, but in this show, it's just there," he said.

The second act showcased more tango, as well as salsa, merengue dances and percussion segments featuring the gaucho drums.

Standouts in the show were director Gloria Otero, who sparkled while dancing or in the role of mistress of ceremonies, and singer Esther Segovia, who gave a dramatic delivery of "Don't Cry for Me Argentina," from the musical, "Evita."

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