The World's Belly

"The eyes that see never forget," declares Urban Tap's Tamango in Full Cycle, his ravishing new dance/music/video show (Joyce Theater, through March 29), a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds. A child of French Guiana and France, he calls New York the "belly of the world." Like our voracious city, he gobbles delectable cultures from all over. It would be enough to watch this lovely, mercurial man move and tap-dance with ease, charm, and captivating androgyny as he evokes Africa's presence in places as diverse as Harlem and Andalusia. But Tamango prefers to teach by example, creating a stage big enough for everyone's stardom. His praiseworthy collaborators include break-dancers "Cricket" Colter and Ivan Manriquez, Tunisian singer Amina, Haitian percussionist-singer Bonga (Gaston Jean-Baptiste), capoeirista-musician Cabello, Malian keyboardist Cheik Tidiane Seck, singer Vishal Vaid, Italian trumpeter Fabio Morgera, and more. "Smiling even when the world says no" is Tamango's creed. "Yes, this is possible!" —Eva Yaa Asantewaa


Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal's Queen of Spades (Joyce, February) had all the makings of an effective narrative ballet: Pushkin's story about love and gambling, Kim Brandstrup's thorny choreography, music adapted from Tchaikovsky's opera, and multimedia effects by a team of technical wizards. For most of the evening-length work, though, the production ideas were diffuse, the steps unmotivated, the characters (aside from Gabrielle Lamb's terrifying Countess) flat. The protagonist, Hermann (Mário Radacovsky), had little to do but stagger and tumble on the floor; only late in the game was lovely Anik Bissonnette, as Lisa, offered movement worthy of her gifts. The ballet's first half (as well as its Stalinist setting) needs to be tightened and rethought. When in the last two scenes the storytelling, the helter-skelter steps, and the video magic finally made a commitment to one another, the ballet found a dark, wild energy. —Alicia Mosier

 
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