Director: Karen Bruce
Choreographer: Karen Bruce with Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace
Reviewer: Dan English
Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace return for another crack at storytelling through dance in Tango Moderno, touted as the dance duo’s final theatrical tour. Tango Moderno focuses on being an expose of modern life; it’s an adventurous and ambitious attempt to combine philosophy with Latin dance featuring two of Strictly Come Dancing’s most memorable professionals. Their unique and sensuous style has dazzled audiences across a number of nationwide tours, yet a somewhat clunky structure and a jarring narrative style put this production slightly out of step.
The subject matter is the most difficult to comprehend in this production. Tinder, marriage and same-sex relationships are all explored in ways which, seemingly, are designed to be unique to their respective routines, yet the desired episodic structure appears to all clump together, loosely tied together by Tom Parsons’ narration. It adds a frustrating quality to the production and certainly juxtaposes the free-flowing and classy choreography. In addition, the stories that are projected seem to confuse the overall aims, with freedom and expression appearing to be championed within a backdrop of well-behaved housewives and sex-mad spinsters. In truth, it leaves a rather bizarre impression that the production struggles to recover from.
Simone and Cacace are the leading pair, but audiences are kept waiting for their trademark Argentine Tango. The show-stopping finale provides all the pomp you’d expect from the duo, but it is a shame that this jaw-dropping moment is left to the very last moment as it’s a routine that leaves you craving more. Their roles elsewhere seem limited to matchmakers, meddling and floating around the lives of their ensemble, but ultimately, and rightly, stealing the show at the very end.
Aside from the duo, the production’s small ensemble does well to cover the stage so successfully, attacking demanding routines. There is a clash of dance styles, ranging from a quickstep, which kicks a stumbling first half into gear, right through to some strong contemporary pieces, which highlight the power dance can have to tell a story. The ease with which the routines are performed leave a feeling of envy, with a sense of longing to tango and quickstep yourself emanating as the infectious fun from the stage pours out.
The simple set, designed by Morgan Large, is essential to enabling the quick shifts between routines, but it does offer an opportunity to present the urban atmosphere the production is clearly aiming for. As well as this, the manipulation of the set to be used as props for the routines give the stage a dynamism which helps to bring the atmosphere and passions of the choreography alive.
In a show defined by dance, there is an outstanding violinist performance from Oliver Lewis, whose accompaniment to a number of moments, including the final Argentine Tango, provide moments of real drama and suspense.
In all, the production is certainly worth a watch for the finale; there’s nothing better than seeing two dancers at doing what they do best, and this is absolutely the case with Simone and Cacace. It’s a production somewhat confused in its direction and misguided in its messages, but the beauty in the choreography cannot be beaten.
Touring nationwide | Image: Manuel Harlan