Choreographer: German Cornejo
Reviewer: Maryam Philpott
There are few dance styles more beautiful to watch than the Argentine Tango; ballet can be lovely, even moving but without decades of training it is out of reach for most people whereas the earthy sensuality of the Argentine Tango makes you want to rush out to the nearest dance school. German Cornejo’s latest version of Tango Fire with its shifting tones, fluid movements and intense, emotional storytelling might just convince you to get dancing.
Arriving at the Peacock Theatre for a brief run, Tango Fire is everything you need from a dance show, six skilled couples led by Cornejo, inventive choreography, changing rhythms and lots of great music. There’s no overarching narrative as such but the first half, comprising 13 separate numbers, follows the couples as they meet for the first time on a sunny afternoon, before heading for a formal evening event and eventually to a more sensual and intense after dark celebration.
It’s a light and flirty start as the Company dance a Tango Foxtrot together as they chose their partners, finding a syncopated rhythm between them as they enjoy a casual meeting. After a brief parting, the lovers are reunited at an evening dance, the men fighting with one another before they form a chorus line to El Firulete / La Tramperato which they dance a milonga. Dapper in waistcoats and hats, it has a cheeky Guys and Dolls feel while couples perform a variety of Company and solo pieces using circular shapes to create a precise ballroom feel.
Just before the interval – which occurs abruptly a mere 40-minutes into the show – Cornejo and his partner Gisela Galeassi up the ante with a dramatic and sexy tango that takes on a much slower, more intimate style, eventually joined by the other couples all dressed dramatically in black. Across the first half, the energy shifts as the technical display is enhanced, the easy romance of the early numbers transforming into spikier shapes and a growing sense of something at stake between the couples.
Act Two abandons the half narrative to showcase the skill and variety of the individual pairings, with each getting their own solo number which they have choreographed full of acrobatics, while performing in increasingly daring group numbers. Opening with a dance full of slow and creeping movement performed by Julio Jose Seffino and Carla Dominguez, the Company then reunite for a Tango Cabaret to Quejas De Bandoneonusing chairs to create height and variety in the arrangement.
The solos become increasingly daring, and while a romantic and fluid dance performed with changing speed by Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre unites tango with influences from contemporary dance, it is German and Galeassi who steal the show again with their Tango / Adagio that borrow some of the basic presenting and fan-shapes of a romantic and wistful Rumba and builds the intensity with intricate step patterns and a couple of outstanding tricks including a one-armed lift above the head, showcasing German’s impressive strength, and a moment in which he cradles Galeassi before spinning her in one full rotation in his arms.
Tango Fire isn’t just concerned with dance, and also gives plenty of stage time to the musicians with a number of instrumental sections to cover costume changes. Pianist and Musical Director Matias Feigin clearly demonstrates the importance of the rhythm in creating the shape and tone of the dances, with the final section Adidos Nonino offering solos to each instrument starting with a contemplative piano piece, before a soaring violin section for Gemma Scalia and a twiddly bandoneon played by Clemente Carrascai, all supported by Facundo Benavidez on contrabass.
The interval and eventual conclusion do happen a little too abruptly while dancer Victoria Saudelli looks less comfortable in the group pieces than her fellow dancers. Yet, throughout the evening, the Company’s absolute precision and responsive to the music is incredible, and this exactness extends to the show’s timing, finishing on the dot of two hours as advertised including multiple curtain calls and a mini-encore. Tango Fire is so beautiful to watch and a real celebration of the Argentine Tango.
Runs until 16 February 2019 | Image: Contributed