When Belgian choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui decided to make a dance about Argentine tango, he knew there was only one place to go: Buenos Aires. Losing himself in the sights, sounds and smells of the city, he set about re-creating a m¡longa (a tango dance party) on stage – but in his own unique way. This is no Strictly Come Dancing-style extravaganza, nor is it a reincarnation of a late 19th century South American dance hall, where Argentine tango was born. Instead, it’s an exciting, sensuous and tender coming together of styles. Cherkaoui’s brand of contemporary dance, which has always refused to be boxed in, still lives and breathes. But, aside from one beautiful duet performed by two contemporary dancers, most of the show is delivered by ten tango exponents.
Edinburgh Festival Theatre ****
None of which would have been possible without the expertise and passion of consultant, Nélida Rodriguez – a woman who has lived and breathed tango for over three decades. Together, she and Cherkaoui have taken the form and re-shaped it into something new and wonderful.
Once the exclusive domain of couples, the tango of m¡longa is carried out in threes, fours, fives and more. From the waist down, it’s business as usual for the genre – the quick flicks and fast, interlocking legs we know and love. But up above, everything is up for grabs.
Video footage of Buenos Aires takes us far from the theatre, cleverly-lit cardboard cut-outs create the illusion of a bustling party, and stunning footwork leaves us breathless.