Pasión Play

Until the Brazilian dance instructors featured on an episode of The Simpsons unveil their promised "la Penetrada," the tango will remain the world's sexiest dance.

Argentina's native dance is enjoying a stirring surge in popularity, thanks in large part to Tango Pasión. The spirited musical has been igniting audiences worldwide since its 1994 inception and, this weekend, scorches the stage at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts. Though the Valley's weather has cooled down, spectators should be prepared to feel the heat.

"The tango has a history of seducing audiences," says Pasión producer Sarah Olinsky. "It's so filled with emotion that people are mesmerized."

The dance hasn't always been so glamorous. Born in the 1880s in the brothels of Buenos Aires, it originated as a retelling of the relationship between a prostitute and pimp. The tango didn't gain social acceptability until the early 20th century, when it exploded in Paris and the U.S. (where some women wore "bumpers" to avoid rubbing too closely against their partners).

Equal parts passionate and precise, Tango Pasión is performed by 12 Argentinean dancers -- legs ablur in measured movement -- backed by the renowned Sexteto Mayor Orchestra.

Spectators may be surprised to learn that it does not, in fact, take two to tango: Tango Pasión features solo and group dancing, prop dancing, and the-stuff-of-fantasies dancing (five men vying for the affections of a single woman). The beat will captivate even the rhythm-impaired.

"The audiences in America always love us. This kind of dance crosses cultural boundaries," says Olinsky.

Hey, if that's what effective communication requires, perhaps our everyday attempts at greater understanding should involve a few more attentive caresses, the occasional smoldering embrace, and lusty, lingering dips so heavy with erotic energy that the surrounding air catches violent flame. (Ahem. Did we mention the tango is sexy?)