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Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
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An Evening of Tango - A Tribute to Carlos Gardel - Created and Performed by Chris Vasquez

by Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 15, 2002
New York, NY

About the Author:

An Evening of Tango
A Tribute to Carlos Gardel
Created and Performed by Chris Vasquez

With Tito Castro, bandoneón
Pancho Navarro, guitar
Alejandra Gochez and Carlos Yannacañedo, dancers

Reviewed by Roberta Zlokower
October 15, 2002

Rattlestick Theatre
224 Waverly Place

Chris Vasquez, squez15@aol.com, in Porteño hat or full tuxedo, belted out the songs of legendary Tango singer, Carlos Gardel, at the Rattlestick Theatre in Greenwich Village on October 15. This program will be repeated on Tuesday, October 29. Chris Vasquez, of Dominican and Italian origin, sings Tango songs in NY and throughout the East, from Washington DC to Buffalo. Mr. Vasquez has written and performed two Tango shows and was seen last year at the Spanish Institute. He was also featured in The Tango Times. He created a dim and sultry effect, with a bistro table and chairs, as the old brick backdrop of the Rattlestick Theatre perfectly mimics the streets of 1930's Buenos Aires.

Chris Vasquez at the Rattlestick Theatre
Photo by Roberta Zlokower

Tito Castro, on bandoneón, is a well-known fixture in the New York Tango scene. Tito has performed at Lincoln Center and at weekly Tango Milongas, in San Juan, in Finland, and throughout the world. Tito is often seen performing with Pancho Navarro, guitarist, with whom he has collaborated on film scores and special events. In the right, front corner of the dimly lit stage, Tito, head bent over his full-throated bandoneón, and Pancho, superbly gazing at, and drawing lovely sounds from, his guitar, were both extremely effective in their solos and accompaniments. I had seen a similar production, featuring Chris Vasquez, Tito, and Pancho, last year, at the Spanish Institute. Yet, this was the proper ambiance to mount such a rich collection of Gardel songs and visually enchanting Tango dances.

Carlos Yannacañedo (www.dancesport.com) and Alejandra Gochez studied Tango in Buenos Aires and performed at the New York Tango Festival. Both teach and dance in Festivals and Dance Studios. Carlos and Alejandra were seductive and sensual Tango partners, with the proper amount of energy and ornamentation in their dancing. Whether a Milonga (faster) or Tango (slower), the music, with or without words, was brought to life by these two seasoned Tangueros.

Mr. Vasquez was well assisted by Garin Marshall, Lighting Designer and Stage Manager, Jorge Cortes. Mr. Vasquez would emerge from one of the fadeouts, that fell between songs, and always sport a new expression: of anger, of disdain, of loneliness, of sorrow, of adoring love, or of a confidant, about to let the audience in on a special secret about Carlos Gardel. In Ausencia (absence), he soulfully sings of suffering and love. In Sus Ojos Se Cerraron (Her Eyes Closed), Mr. Vasquez painfully sings of death. In El Dia Que Me Quieras (On the Day You Love Me), my favorite Gardel song, Mr. Vasquez is upbeat and ethereal. In Por Una Cabeza, (By a Head) Mr. Vasquez was most dramatic, as he chastises Gardel's gambling losses, either from Horses or women. In Adios, Muchachos (Farewell Boys), Mr. Vasquez relates a story of a family funeral in the Dominican Republic, at which he and his grandmother sang this song together.

Mr. Vasquez, in the second act, sporting the full tuxedo, deftly switched time zones, as he sang and spoke asides to the audience, in the present, and in 1920's-30's Buenos Aires. He spoke of classical Argentinean bandleaders, in addition to singing a Vals and a Milonga. Mr. Vasquez is a versatile and resourceful entertainer. His voice and persona are well suited to this most enjoyable Program. Run to or call the Rattlestick Theater, 212.627.2556, to reserve your seat/s, reasonably priced as a donation, for next Tuesday, October 29. This show will make you want to Tango or fall in love!

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