In Uqbartango, Pablo Pugliese, born into a family of tango pros, entertains the notion that the soul of the genre can be expressed by augmenting its vocabulary with modern dance and ballet. The piece does, indeed, echo the tango’s preoccupation with love and its troubles. But, dwelling on the neurotic bickerings typical of contemporary “relationships,” it conveys none of the tango’s traditional lust for life. Pugliese himself is an arresting dancer, capable of speed, liquidity, and fire. At his best, he lets the dance consume every part of his body, leaving nothing inert. His partner, Catherine Correa, can’t match him, though, and the choreography is banal. Inevitably, the show leans on adornments: arch costumes and quotes from Jorge Luis Borges, in whose mythical Uqbar “mirrors and copulation are abominable, because they increase the number of men.” If only Pugliese could co-opt this writer’s sly irony, his flair for mystery and drama!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 12, 2004