Tango Fire – Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

Choreographer: German Cornejo

While we may be facing more weather conditions in a single day than other cities across the month, a blaze is being ignited in Edinburgh this evening. It’s just a shame a few damp squibs have to be tolerated before the roaring heat bursts. Tango Fire, a passionate evening of sultry dance, principally tango, though infused with other genres, seeks to lit up the crowd with their intense physicality.

German Cornejo’s choreography is accurate to a deadly precision, tight and focused, taking to the stage himself alongside Gisela Galeassi to put his shoes where his mouth is. Focusing on movement, rather than narrative, to speak on the skill of the dancers is trivial. These are some of the world’s finest performers. Gold medal winners, with control over their form in super-human fashions. Collectively, the troupe as a whole work well enough in tandem, but the frays reveal as the duo performances become crowd favourites and raw talent is showcased clearly.

In their attempt at seducing the crowd, you don’t want flirtation to overstay its welcome, strike while the iron is hot and all that. Tango Fire sparks intense connections, which burn effervescent, but too often allows these passionate displays simmer into embers. Quite often musical interludes will cover costume changes, but they begin to feel repetitive, particularly in the second act where following individual performances we are treated with group pieces. It feels drawn out, that all the cards have been played, and they’re scrambling to fill time.

Tango should be slick, it should be seamless and provocative – just as we don’t wish to see light pass between the dancers, the audience doesn’t desire the score to grind against the movement. Now, the band of four perform a tremendous set-piece, which at times even outshines the physical performance on stage. On occasion however, the scrapes, clatters and bangs of the band’s structure, while intimate, grates against the dancers slickness. Audio issues often remove an audience, and unfortunately there is the odd occasion where the lack of a conductor means the band are unable to pick-up on errors, matching their music with the live dancers, rather than a conductor.

What Tango Fire gets right, as expected, is of course its choreographed routines. Above and beyond the mundane, the dancers engage in lifts, exquisite footwork which boggle expectation, and achieve a pinpoint accuracy of technique enviable to peers. What feels lacklustre is the storytelling. Occasionally this is self-evident, the jealous lovers, the party scene, but narrative takes a backseat to movement – which isn’t inherently a poor decision, merely limits options to connect with a wider audience.

It cannot be undermined though, how skilled the dancers are, nor Cornejo’s meticulous choreography. The troupe read the crowd, sensing the difficulties of a quieter Edinburgh audience, they work to inject energy into the theatre. By the finale, this has (thankfully) worked, as the hammering of feet echoes across the space, the blood pumping. Regretfully, this all comes a little too late into the evening, which by now has begun to drag, and while a bombastic climax may offer thrills, it cannot halt the dousing effect on Tango’s Fire.

Reviewed on February 2020 | Image: Lorenzo di Nozzi

The Reviews Hub Score

Intense Physicality

The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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