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Byline: Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

Lots of people in Eugene like to tango. But unless you're a pro, you probably haven't seen tango done quite like it is performed by Estampas Portenas, which is coming to the Hult Center next week.

Estampas Portenas brings the sexy dance of Buenos Aires to an entirely new level, suffusing a dance that was born in the brothels of South America with the classical ballet background of the troupe's founder: Carolina Soler.

The group has been making itself known around the world in the past few years, from the Sydney Opera House to last year's Fringe Festival in Edinburgh.

"The tango is really about passion," Soler said by phone from Los Angeles, where Estampas Portenas was performing during the group's eight-week North American tour. "And I like to turn that passion into perfection on stage."

"Tango Fire," as the show is called, is being presented here by Eugene Ballet as part of the ballet's new season.

"Tango is a phenomenon," explains Riley

Grannan, the ballet's managing director.

"My feeling about presenting them is based on the fact that they are the best in the world right now at what they do. They are authentic, from Buenos Aires.

`They've toured the world. And this is something that people here should see.

`It's really inspiring. And Eugene would not get this from us."

In other words, "Swan Lake" this is not.

The highly stylized moves of tango, which have evolved over a century of popular dancing in Argentina and around the world, amount to a form of theatrical sexual combat.

That sexuality hasn't been lost on reviewers who have seen "Tango Fire."

"Sex on legs!" enthused the Courier Mail in Brisbane, Australia, when Estampas Portenas toured last year.

"Seriously good fun," agreed the Sydney Morning Herald, which called the show "dance with sensuous fluency" after a sold-out performance at the Sydney Opera House.

Soler, a classically trained ballerina, founded Estampas Portenas in Buenos Aires in 1996. A dancer since the age of 6, she had been a dancer in Teatro Colon, dancing traditional repertoire such as "Don Quixote" and "Romeo & Juliet."

Although her English is less lyrical than her dancing, Soler said she had long wanted to combine the ethereal forms of ballet with the earthier steps of the tango.

"When I see the tango done, I think I would like it for my company," Soler said.

"A few of the dancers have had training in ballet, and the movements and acrobatics are based on ballet."

Soler said the show combines traditional and contemporary tango - the latter being a far more athletic version of the dance.

Estampas Portenas brings five pairs of dancers to the stage for `Tango Fire.'

Music is provided by a small traditional tango orchestra with four musicians: Gabriel Clenar on piano; Hugo Satorre, playing bandonen, a kind of accordion; Gerardo Scaglione on double bass; and Lucas Furno playing violin.

Singer Diego Fama also will perform with the group. Fama sings both on television and in a number of tango houses in Argentina.

More traditional ballet resumes in Eugene on Nov. 11 and 12, when Eugene Ballet teams up with Eugene Concert Choir, the Oregon Mozart Players and the Oregon Festival Choirs for the spectacle of "Carmina Burana."

DANCE PREVIEW Tango Fire What: Buenos Aires dance company Estampas Portenas Where: Hult Center's Silva Concert Hall, Seventh Avenue and Willamette Street When: 8 p.m. Oct. 19 Tickets: $20 to $40, 682-5000
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; A Buenos Aires troupe elevates the sexy steps to new heights
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 12, 2006
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