The heart of tango beats in Seattle

This weekend (May 13-14) Michelle Badion's 17th Tango Cabaret offers dinner and a show, with lessons and dancing, if you can't resist tango's playful, sexy rhythms.

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Guillermo Salvat and Silvia Grynt

This weekend (May 13-14) Michelle Badion's 17th Tango Cabaret offers dinner and a show, with lessons and dancing, if you can't resist tango's playful, sexy rhythms.

Seattle is a tango town. You can take a tango class or attend a milonga, a tango dance, every night of the week and sometimes even during the day. What Seattle generally lacks, however, are the big names in tango, a gap that local teacher and dancer Michelle Badion periodically addresses through tango performances she produces at Century Ballroom.

This weekend Badion presents her 17th Tango Cabaret, featuring a varied array of dancers and musicians who embody the heart and soul of traditional Argentine tango as well as new trends in the art form. Besides performances by individual couples, there will also be four group numbers featuring the full ensemble.

Headlining the show are the internationally acclaimed Guillermo Salvat and Silvia Grynt. Salvat and Grynt have starred in the tango extravaganzas of Buenos Aires and performed around the world, but this will be their first visit to Seattle. According to Badion, Salvat and Grynt bring a special playfulness and richness to their dancing, which lends the best of performance tango to the social dance form found in the tango bars of Argentina.

The other international stars on the program are Eva Lucero and Patricio Touceda. The Argentine-born pair has performed with the international tango show Forever Tango and Cirque du Soleil but has lived in Seattle for several years. As anyone who has seen Lucero and Touceda can attest, they are intensely emotional dancers with all the elegance that the word “tango” conveys. Also featured will be performances by other local tango dancers.

Badion says one of her goals with this program is to showcase different styles of Argentine tango, which is more sexy and intimate than the international tango style featured on "Dancing with the Stars," for instance. Local director-choreographer Sarah Thomsen’s troupe Tango En Vie offers “nuevo tango,” a looser, more open style, while Badion and her partner Wladimir Pino showcase tango’s improvisational nature - the male lead choosing the steps as he goes along, with the female adding her own flourishes as she follows his lead.

In light of tango’s total integration of music and dance, Badion has engaged singers Ernesto Rassi, an Argentinian who sings traditional tango, and Oregon rapper Momo Schmitt, who writes raps about tango. Also providing live music is Ben Thomas on the accordion-like bandoneon.

As part of their Friday or Saturday tango evening, audiences can enjoy a full dinner menu and bar service plus tango dances after the performances. A half-hour beginner tango class will be offered both nights between the show and the social dance.

If you go: Michelle Badion's 17th Tango Cabaret, Friday and Saturday May 13-14, Century Ballroom, 915 E. Pine. 6 p.m.-1 a.m. - depending on your tickets: $65 for dinner, show, lesson, and dance; $30 for show, lesson, and dance; $10 at the door after 9 p.m. for dance only (must be 21). Tickets available online or by calling (206) 324-7263


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