Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone
Director: Karen Bruce
Choreography: Karen Bruce with Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone
Reviewer: Barbara Michaels
Sultry and sexy, exotic as a hot summer evening in Buenos Aires – Flavia Cacace and Vincent Simone bring the exciting beat of the Argentine Tango to the stage of Cardiff’s New Theatre this week in Tango Moderno. Ever since they shot to the top of the leaderboard in BBC TV’s Strictly, their names have become synonymous with tango, in all its many variations and nuances. And rightly so. In their field, they are non-pareil, with numerous professional awards including becoming World Argentine Tango Show champions in 2006.
All the more pity, then, that Tango Moderno, the couple’s fourth and, according to a recent announcement by Cacace, their last production, falls somewhat short on so many counts. Not what one would expect, and way below the standard of their first production Midnight Tango back in 2011, based on the Argentine tango with an Argentinian setting. Instead, we have a wide selection of dance forms, embracing several genres from classical ballet to contemporary street dance – which would have been fine if presented in a series of individual divertissements. Instead, Cacace and Simone have opted for a narrator to link it all together.
Dance should tell its own story, with no explanation needed. Using a narrator as a vehicle gives rise to a sense of cobbling together rather than the smooth running of a work as a whole. A further irritating factor is the overuse of the gallery with an overloud singer posted there plus superfluous video projection high up at the back of the stage, resulting in at times with the eye being drawn upwards rather than focusing on the main action on stage below. Although this ploy is much in vogue at present and can have its uses, it’s hard to see why Bruce has used it here.
Which is a shame. For the dancing is great both from the award-winning couple and their team of dancers. Their legendary Tango is showcased with Flavia’s leg-flips are as incredible as ever, and Vincent is well back on form after his injury earlier in the tour. Their reputation at the top in Latin American in addition to both Argentine and ballroom tango is well known too and featured in a slick Cha Cha Cha.
Vibrant ensemble numbers are slick and professional, with outstanding performances from some of the company, backed up by a band of ten onstage musicians. And while we are on the subject of music – a brilliant performance of Rimsky Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee from talented violinist Oliver Lewis, although something of a surprise to find a concert piece included in the programme.
A packed audience on opening night in Cardiff evidenced the ongoing popularity of Cacace and Simone. As well as their individual dances, the couple whizz on stage throughout almost every number. A shame we have to wait until the end to see what we really came for. No spoilers – but worth the wait.
Runs until 17 March 2018 | Image: Manuel Harlan