Tango Fire: Flames of Desire, Peacock Theatre | Dance reviews, news & interviews
Tango Fire: Flames of Desire, Peacock Theatre
Exquisite dancers, a charismatic chanteur, and an electrifying band
If by the end of a show you’ve both wowed and ouched out loud, I would declare it’s safe to say you’re getting your money's-worth. Tango Fire's new show at the Peacock Theatre, Flames of Desire, does all the above and more. In fact it could be described as the West End equivalent to a supermarket deal the average savvy consumer simply can’t resist – three for the price of one: exquisite dancers, a charismatic chanteur, and an electrifying band.
The dancers are 10 of Argentina’s best, headed by the dancer/in-house choreographer German Cornejo. The singer, Jesus Hidalgo, has the charm and subtlety of a modern-day Frank Sinatra. And the band, Quarteto Fuego, is a four-piece that communicates the wide scope of emotions one can find within tango music, from light-hearted to melancholia.
The show’s first half is set in a 1930s style speakeasy – all red velvet and low lighting, and sees the dancers flit between group and duet numbers. The ensemble pieces tend to develop from gender-orientated banter, which allows for a portal into what it might have been, or still is like in a Milonga (tango salon) nestled deep in a Buenos Aires barrio. The duets enable the couples to communicate their own personalities, which in turn makes each number feel unique regardless of there being only so many steps one can draw on.
It’s refreshing to see both men and women dancing at such a high, equal level
The second half uses a more contemporary feel throughout, fortified with less traditional choreography and more modern costuming. For me this allowed for the taste level to drop a little, which is no serious crime considering how high it was in the first half. However, at certain points there was a distinct lack of filler which needs to be edited.
The dancing throughout is (generally) breathtaking, and it’s refreshing to see both men and women dancing at such a high, equal level. The movement language varies from internal in style, to the point of almost static, before it escalates into phrases that wouldn’t look out of place in a Las Vegas show seeing the women catapulted through the air. The footwork is a deadly mix of speed and precision, and at times reads like the most intricate of football tackles, another flourishing Argentinian speciality.
Three dancers really stand out from the crowd: Louise Junqueria Malucelli with her Amazonian stature and apparent ease when darting between jubilant and grave interpretations; Sebastian Alvarez for his quintessential South American man, demanding appreciation from the audience; and Gisela Galeassi for everything she does. Galeassi has a body that could make grown men cry, and she isn’t afraid to use it as a weapon of mass entertainment. By the end of the evening the entire audience were either captivated, or deeply in love with her. Her movement quality is extraordinary and keenly highlights both the risk-tasking and languid suspension that tango can allow the dancer to incorporate, plus she simply exudes star quality... an aspect that can’t be taught.
Cornejo should be praised for the group choreography, as well as the show’s overall slickness, which allows it to run like a well-oiled machine – packing in shed-loads to the allotted two hours without feeling excessive. Two heeds of warning though – hairography is fun, but can get monotonous after the 70th whip; and facial expression, though engaging, can quickly become a parody of itself.
Flames of Desire isn’t to be missed if you love value for money – which continues after the curtain lowers with a free dance class in the circle bar. Sadly I turned down the offer as it could’ve ended with me defecting to Argentina... their fault, not mine.
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