Director and Choreographer: Germán Cornejo
Reviewer: Scott Matthewman
Returning to the Peacock Theatre, Germán Cornejo and his long-term professional dance partner Gisela Galeassi can always be depended upon to provide an exhilarating showcase of the Argentinian Tango.
The couple’s latest show, Tango After Dark, receives its world premiere here. Stripping away anynarrative framing device, the emphasis instead is on strong pair dances that illustrate the romantic, passionate and visually striking qualities of the Latin repertoire’s most thrilling dance.
With a seven-piece orchestra under musical director Diego Ramos providing a classic soundscape of an upmarket Buenos Aires milonga, much emphasis is placed upon the sound of the bandoneon, as played by Clemente Carrascal. Indeed, both acts of this show start off with a (not entirely convincing) use of another bandoneon as a prop by the dancers. Thankfully, that device is dispensed with early on, allowing the five couples to concentrate on the true from of the Argentine.
And with a dance that is traditionally far more fluid and improvisational than some, sometimes it is hard to notice the technical quality within the routines. Lifts and spins fit so effortlessly into the couples’ routines that one has to be forced to recall that the woman’s feet haven’t touched the floor for quite some time. It is only when the sequence of lifts ends in a spectacular flourish that the craft and care that has been present throughout becomes obvious.
One of the most appealing sides of the Argentine tango is that its multitude of embellishments, from the hooking legs of the gancho to the brief lifts of the sentada and the flourishes of the boleo, can convey so many different meanings based on the pace at which they are performed. Taken slowly, it is a game of seduction; pick up the pace and it is an act of passion, the couple performing in unison for a common goal of consummation.
Of the five couples, it is perhaps not surprising that Cornejo and Galeassi impress so highly. But the four couples with which they share the stage are their equals, with Mariano Balois and Micaela Spina standing out in one of the show’s first partner dances.
But while the couples each get their turn to show off their skills as a pairing, the atmosphere of the milonga would be incomplete without some group numbers as well. Cornejo’s choreography is devoid of the homoeroticism that sometimes fuels the moves of a group of sexually charged men: here, everything masculine performed as a group is done with the sole purpose of attracting a member of the opposite sex. It’s primal, rather than carnal, but also sweet-natured: the epitome of everything that makes the Argentine Tango so watchable.
Vocal performances from Antonela Cirillo and Jesús Hidalgo accentuate the evening’s performances. Were its not for the smoking ban, one could quite imagine sitting at cabaret tables, dancers milling between chairs, the singers’ voices wafting through clouds of pungent cigar smoke.
If there’s one criticism, it may be that previous iterations of Cornejo and Galeassi’s work had more variety of staging and theme. But by focussing in on one environment, and one purpose, Tango After Dark does at the very least express everything that is joyful about experiencing the Argentine.
Continues until March 17 | Image: contributed