Since becoming socially accepted among high-brow circles during the early 1900s, tango is now one of the most well-known art forms around the world. In 2009, UNESCO declared the dance part of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage.”
On Stage At Kingsborough (OSK) presented its second show of the 2019-2020 season Saturday with a performance of “Cumparsita: The Tango” created by Tony Award-winning choreographer Luis Bravo.
In a powerfully “meta” production, distinguished tango dancers were accompanied by Argentine music masters in bringing the story of the dance to life.
“What I love about Bravo’s work is that it’s highly theatrical,” said Anna Becker, executive director of OSK. “Whether it’s dance or music, we always look for a performance with some kind of overarching story that’s being told, because it keeps the audience more engaged and more involved in the action.”
From the brothels to the ballroom floor, “Cumparsita” traces the journey of tango as it blossomed from its earthy roots to the highly stylized dance it has become. The show shares a name with one of the most famous tango songs of all time: “La Cumparsita” written by Gerardo Hernan Matos Rodriquez in 1916.
OSK’s program brings a diverse roster of multidisciplinary arts to students and communities around South Brooklyn on Kingsborough Community College’s campus.
From October to May, world class dance, cabaret, theatre, music, and family productions are hosted in the Leon M. Goldstein Performing Arts Center. Other events, such as a yearly jazz concert series, are held at Kingsborough’s Lighthouse.
School-time shows welcome classes from local public and private schools, many of which serve economically disadvantaged and special needs populations.
This season scheduled a broad range of performances representing all corners of the world, from Siberian folk dance to Chinese circus acts to a mini Flamenco Festival.
“We have people from all over the world who have made New York, and specifically Brooklyn, their home,” explained Becker, who is celebrating her 10th anniversary season with OSK. “And I think it’s beautiful to be able to come here and see the art form of your home country.”
When Becker began her tenure at OSK, she established a vision that included a greater focus on large-scale, international productions than was previously the norm. A decade later, OSK has one of the most extensive repertoires in South Brooklyn, proving that intention transformed into a reality.
“I think there’s a certain grandeur to our program because of that,” the executive director reflected. “It’s been wonderful to work with the community, to hear what they’re looking forward to seeing and to have them build the arts center with me over the years.”
The next show to grace the stage on December 7 is “Here’s to the Broadway Ladies,” a cabaret performance saluting the great women of New York musical theatre.