Cuarteto Latinoamericano + Tapage
Juan Arturo Brennan
Once more, for our eyes’ and ears’ rejoicing, and for the singular benefit of our atrophied skeletons, Tapage came to Mexico to perform, in complicity with Cuarteto Latinoamericano, their attractive show, Dansaq. Who are Tapage? They are choreographers and dancers Mari Fujibayashi and Olivia Rosenkrantz. What does Tapage do? As their name partially indicates, they dance tap, but that is only part of the story. Tapage’s work is informed by old Japanese theater, Indian classical dance, various currents of contemporary dance-theater, gestures from silent-film comedians and many other things.
On the stage of Mexico City’s Teatro de la Danza, Tapage and the CL offered a music-and-dance program which included pieces by Piazzolla, Lee, Cardona, Álvarez, Revueltas, Sawai, Sierra, Vali, Torres Sáenz, Ibarra and Del Águila. The general format of Dansaq is quite simple: Cuarteto Latinoamericano plays and Tapage dances, and the combined result is very attractive, basically due to the fact that the dancers and choreographers have a very good feeling and intuition to reinterpret through movement the essence of the music. Throughout Dansaq, one can appreciate, among many other things, the fact that Fujibayashi and Rosenkrantz conceive and realize their choreographic composition and dance performance without recourse to the simple transliteration of the titles or the evident contents of the pieces, approaching each score instead in a flexible, varied and intuitive fashion. In other words, it’s true that they do not fully reject categorically emphasizing with their bodies and tap shoes some of the music’s accents, but they do not fall into rigid imitation by coincidence, that ugly vice that both in film and dance is known as mickeymouseing.
Time and again it’s been remarked (I myself commented on the subject a few years ago in this column) that one of Tapage’s greatest assets is their unfailing intuition to select the music to which they apply their choreographic and performance work. In the case of their collaboration with Cuarteto Latinoamericano, there is an evident joint effort in the process of musical selection, a process that in this particular version of Dansaq has resulted in an impeccable musical continuity. This session of Dansaq with Tapage and Cuarteto Latinoamericano began on the right foot (actually, two right feet), with a playful version of Ástor Piazzolla’s Four, for tango, subjected to bodily solfège by Tapage alongside the musicians. From then on, an interesting combination of musical works of Latin American, Iranian, Chinese and Japanese origin, for each of which Fujibayashi and Rosenkrantz created highly individual choreographic versions, with specific, well defined dynamic and expressive features.
The high point of the performance was, undoubtedly, a very attractive performance of Silvestre Revueltas’ Sensemayá, in collaboration with percussionist Ricardo Gallardo, danced with a fascinating combination of ritual, magical and sinuous elements, without ever falling into the tropical picturesque or the temptations of decorative magical realism. Actually, some of the images created by Tapage for their version of Sensemayá become unforgettable visual icons. These performances of Dansaq only confirmed the excellence, both in music and dance, of the Tapage-CL collaboration.