Theatre review – Tango Moderno

Tango Moderno – review for Essential Surrey website.

5 STARS, November 1-4. This is an irresistible explosion of dance, music and song, says Andrew Morris

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The tango has its dance roots in the barrios of Buenos Aires, fused with immigrant influences and rhythms from Andalusia and Africa. It thrived in Argentina in the 1930s and exploded anew into the British consciousness with the huge success in recent years of Strictly Come Dancing.

The authentic Argentine tango exudes passion and physical closeness, ‘the heat of the streets and the pulse of life.’ To the spectator, the dance steps look impossibly intricate but for the dancers, the emotion is perhaps more important than the technique. As Al Pacino says in the famous scene from Scent of a Woman, ‘there are no mistakes in the tango. Unlike life.’

Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace have become synonymous with the tango revival in this country. Multiple UK, European and World Champion dancers, they have used their Strictly stardom to move into choreographing, and performing in, innovative new shows.

Their first – Midnight Tango – was based in a moody Buenos Aires bar, weaving a story of tangled love through dazzling displays of the authentic version of the dance.

They are now performing their fourth collaboration – Tango Moderno – co-choreographed with, and directed by, Karen Bruce and I was lucky to catch it at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre. Sadly, Vincent was injured and unable to dance, but his place has been taken temporarily by two world-class dancers, Italian Pasquale La Rocca and Argentinian Leonel Di Cocco.

Tango Moderno is heavily influenced by the classic Argentine dance, but the show has been deftly constructed to be so much more.

A dynamic team of youthfully exuberant dancers perform routines influenced by ballet, hip-hop, cha-cha-cha, break-dancing and many other styles. A cleverly consistent theme of searching for love runs through each piece, with whimsical sets energising the stories. In one, would-be lovers swipe a huge mobile phone screen to deliver Tinder-matches and entertainingly danced date nights. In another, the couples introduce garden tools into a dance. Really.

The story of the show is narrated by Tom Parsons, often in comedic rhyming couplets. The epitome of cool, he wanders through the performance like a roaming troubadour, guitar slung across his shoulder and breaking into excellent voice to accompany some of the dances. His delivery of Rag ‘n’ Bone Man’s I’m Only Human will haunt me for a while yet. Rebecca Lisewski shines with voice and is also one of the dance team.

But of course the star of the show is Flavia Cacace. She floats in and out of the danced love stories, and book-ends both halves of the show with sensual performances of the authentic Argentine tango, lithe limbs wrapping around her partner in a blur of ochossacadas and trabadas.

This quality of dance and song is only achieved with the help of equally professional musicians, especially from Oliver Lewis, a virtuoso performer who was recognised as the world record speed-violinist in 2010.

The final tango number, with a sensational marriage of classic Argentinian dance and raking violin, brought the house down, sending the rapturous audience out into the Woking barrio, in search of an empanada and dreaming of a trip to Buenos Aires.

Argentina map, courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica

 

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