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Friday, Jul 25, 2014
Arts & Music

Tampa stage heats up with ‘Tango Fire’ at the Straz


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The passion of the tango has flowed through Germán Cornejo’s veins most of his life.

The Argentine native grew up in a house where tango was the music of choice and bolero-heavy soap operas aired on television.

“There are similarities between tango, bolero and some salsas and those usually have to do with the fact that the themes are dramatic, always talking about lost loves and melancholy,” said Cornejo, 27.

His grandparents noticed his love of tango and enrolled Cornejo in classes. By age 15, he was considered a tango master.

“I dedicated my life to dancing tango because it became an instant passion for me,” said Cornejo. “From the second class, I went crazy with the movements, the contact.”

Sunday, the choreography director and principal dancer of “Tango Fire: Flames of Desire” will take the stage in an all new production at the Straz Center.

“The show has been redone for this new tour,” said Cornejo. “We’ve redone everything including the costumes, not just the choreography. There’s a new cast with dancers who are superstars and we’ve also redesigned the set.”

“Tango Fire” made its debut in 2005 in Singapore. Cornejo joined the production in 2006, a year before he was crowned World Tango Champion.

When he’s not touring with “Tango Fire,” Cornejo trains dancers for the World Tango Championship. “I’m very strict in the Russian school style,” he added.

Cornejo’s tango skills also earned him a spot last year on “Q’Viva!” a reality show starring singer Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez.

On the reality show, he danced with Gisela Galeassi, a 2003 tango champion and his current dance partner in “Tango Fire.”

The pair was later invited to be part of Lopez’s show on its world tour as it made its way last year through Argentina.

“I’ve known Gisela for a long time and it just so happened that we were both single, in dancing terms, and the movements flowed well,” he said of his partner. “With time, we’ve developed good chemistry, which is something that happens through the years.”

Though Cornejo has danced on stages around the world, he said he learned a lot from his appearance on the reality show.

“It was a difficult process living in one house,” he said. “The show had dancers from throughout Latin America with contestants from Colombia, Mexico, Brazil, Honduras. ... We were about 100 people living in the house and spent hours rehearsing.”

Cornejo said anyone can learn to dance tango as long as they have a passion for it.

“There’s no age limit to learn how to dance the tango,” he added. “Every age adds different flavor, warmth and nostalgia. Tango is a dance about connection and not necessarily of the sensual or sexual kind. Tango is about communication and, of course, love for what you are doing,”

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