THEVARS is a contemporary dance theatre and film ensemble centred around the work of Canadian choreographer Gabreïl Spiegelschrift.

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Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4
  • <p>Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4</p>
  • <p>Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4</p>
  • <p>Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4</p>
  • <p>Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4</p>
  • <p>Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4</p>
  • <p>Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4</p>
  • <p>Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4</p>
  • <p>Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4</p>

Tangó na dTuaitíní uimhre 4 - 2005

le lánúin niogóideach agus banna máirseála

The Bogmen's Tango #4
for bickering couple and marching band

Late in the autumn of 2004 Leslie MacDonald, Director of Publicity for the Guelph Concert Band, approached Gabreïl Spiegelschrift about a concert scheduled for March of 2005. The performance was to include popular classical “dance music hits” and that the Concert Band was intending for dance to accompany some of the selections. Gabreïl immediately responds that he had an old idea that never came to fruition for a duet, though only designed to be filmed, about a bickering couple and a Marching Band. The duet, ‘Tango #4’, is part of a series of duets, ‘The Bogmen's Tangos’ engendered from the farmers of his youth and his adventures throughout Ireland. Specifically inspired by his maternal grandparents, ‘Tango #4’ would sadly become a memorial for Gabreïl’s grandmother who passed during the process. Having the opporitunity to perform for the first time in twenty years in the community he callled home, meant mounting a very specific piece that although strong in conception, needed to reenforce abalance between the contemporary dance style and comedic theatre that must be accessible for non-dance audiences.

Being midprocess with dancefilm ‘Caoineadh Pheirsefine’ it was a logical choice to ask Karen Rose to partake in the ‘Tango #4’ as her facility of various dance and theatre styles was an overwhelming contribution to the eclectic nature of Gabreïl’s choreography. It was Colin Clarke who suggested Jan Van der Roost’s Puszta: Four Gypsy Dances. This whimsical gypsy inspired 4 movement piece set the mood perfectly, and luckily fit the choreographic phrasing that had already been in process for several weeks.

In the mid 1990’s Gabreïl started research on a series of duets and ensemble pieces inspired by the farmers and families of his youth in the rural area outside Fergus Ontario, Canada. Exploring the “surrealism of vérité theatre”, this examination lead Gabreïl to the source, Ireland, where his many adventures added to the choreographic concept. Although a couple of the ‘Tangos’ had theatrical possibilities, the over all concept was designed for a single complete dancefilm piece. In 1996 The ‘Bogmen’s Tangos’ were shelved as Gabreïl became too involved in other productions.

Tango #4’ had its beginnings in the commedia dell’arte based tradition of the Married Couple, specifically in English speaking cultures as Punch and Judy. This sometimes aggressive or “combative” themed love duets, heightened with the signature raw brute force of strong physical dancing, were the basis of several of Gabreïl’s earlier works including ‘Fire and Water’ (1993) and ‘Luft und Erde’ (1994). In contrast to the first three duets in the ‘Bogmen’s Tangos’, with their young love themed adventures, the fourth was focused on a married couple who’s obsessive power struggle has become the forum for them to express their love for each other. A constantly tragic comedy that always ended with the Couple falling back in love, it was known for very racy, often abusive pranks and situations that mocked the day to day trials and tribulations of married couples.

The main character inspirations for ‘Tango #4’ came from two places. Firstly Gabreïl’s idol, Czech surrealist animator Jan Švankmajer, who’s short film ‘Rakvickárna - Punch and Judy/The Coffin Shop/The Lynch House’ (1966) both traumatized and gravely influenced the younger Gabreïl’s artistic direction, and secondly, the fast tongue and over-the-top antics of his grandmother Kathleen and the just as wild, though extremely brow beaten, disposition of grandfather Jack MacPherson served as living examples of the classic Married Couple. Though deeply in love, the constant bickering and often mean spirted communications created a surreal larger-then-life spectacle that could only be seen as tragically funny. In the fall of 2004 Kathleen passed away. With hundreds of people in attendance it was with great honour that Jack MacPherson was able to attended the performance to which the ‘Tango #4’ is dedicated to.

The solo ‘he misses her’ (2007) performed by Gabreïl Spiegelschrift and cellist Elinor Frey continues with the theme in a somber style of Gabreïl's grandfather coping with the death of Kathleen.


  • “Spiegelschrift's technically brilliant and extremely humorous choreography stole the show.”
    more text

    Jessica bartram
    Ontarion / Mar 17 - Mar 23 2005

  • “... the dynamic pairing of dancers Gabriel Spiegelschrift and Karen Rose ...evoked not only the typical aspects of the dancers exchange with humour, but alluded to a much higher struggle, perhaps the infighting with a culture or a nation.”
    more text

    Scott McWhinnie
    Ontarion / Mar 17 - Mar 23 2005

technical details

  • producer
    Homo Technologicus / Guelph Concert Band
  • created and choreographed by
    Gabreïl Spiegelschrift
  • developed and performed with
    Karen Rose
  • composer
    Jan Van der Roost
  • music
    Puszta: Four Gypsy Dances
  • thanks & dedications
    For my grandfather Jackie MacPherson.

    In memory of my grandmother Kathleen MacPherson
    May 28 1924 - Sept. 8 2004

    The Guelph Concert Band, Evan Cameron Clark, Raff Melito, James Malcolm, and the wonderful Leslie MacDonald.
  • premiere
    2005-03-13 RiverRun Centre, Guelph, ON Canada
  • duration
    18 mins.
  • suited for

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