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Tango takes a step forward in new show

New musical brings old tangos and a modern woman together onstage in Aventura. #tango

Think of Argentine tango, and the image of a couple sensually dancing may come to mind. But local singer and producer Humberto Fortuna wants to show South Floridians that tango goes beyond tight dresses, red roses and provocative steps.

His new production, "TANGObsession," debuting this weekend at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, will feature tango through poetry, visual arts and music.

"Tango didn't begin with the dance," says Fortuna, the show's director and producer. "Tango begins with the music. And then, after the music, they put the lyrics. And then, after the lyrics, came the dancing."

In the show, Fortuna, who's from Argentina, will sing in Spanish tango songs that were written from the 1930s to 1980s. Lyrics will be displayed on a screen and translated to English. The screen will also show animation, poems, paintings, film and photography, all inspired by tango or Buenos Aires. Throughout the show, two dancers will go through different styles of tango, from its popular origins to the elaborate ballroom technique.

The story begins when the Traveler, played by Fortuna, leaves Buenos Aires searching for love. He comes across a woman dancing tango, and she becomes his obsession. There's no dialogue. The lyrics tell the story.

"Once you understand the lyrics, it will touch your heart," Fortuna says. "Also, it's to show how these lyrics that were written so many years ago, they're still current. That's how I was able to create the whole show."

The Traveler struggles to grab the attention of the woman, who dances with another man. His obsession leads him to drinking, loneliness and depression.

"The role of the female in this play is to present a woman who's very independent, and very secure of herself. It's a woman from 2015," Fortuna says. "The reason that we do it like that is because it's totally reversed of how the woman is seen in typical tango shows, or tango stories, that the woman usually is more submissive."

The production combines two of Fortuna's passions: his Argentine roots and Broadway. Fortuna left Buenos Aires when he was 21, but the similarities between him and his character end there. Living in Hollywood, he taught private music lessons, sang at private parties and worked as a geriatric specialist.

About one year ago, he started the production company HumSa Cultural Events with local photographer Laura Sapir. They say "TANGObsession" is the first of many musical productions the company will produce in the future.

"I'm obsessed with quality, that's why I'm so harsh, and that's why I waited so long," says Fortuna, 46. "Because it's part of being prepared, of being ready, feeling ready. Today, I can tell you, I feel 100 percent ready to do it."

"TANGObsession" will be performed Oct. 3-4 at the Aventura Arts and Cultural Center, 3385 NE 188th St. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $42.06. Call 305-466-8002 or go to AventuraCenter.org.

bduarte@sunsentinel.com, @babicorb

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