Flames of Desire – Tango Fire: Peacock Theatre, London, 30 January 2013

Me and You

At last Victoria Saudelli has found a way to get rid of the crick in her back. Tango Fire's Flames of Desire. Photo by Lorenzo di Nozzi

At last Victoria Saudelli has found a way to get rid of the crick in her back. Tango Fire’s Flames of Desire. Photo by Lorenzo di Nozzi

Fans of Strictly thinking of going to watch Tango Fire’s Flames of Desire be warned; Ballroom is to Argentinean Tango what Richard Clayderman is to Beethoven. Whereas the former is generally timid and schmaltzy, Argentine Tango is fishnet legs wrapped around waists, playful flicking against the genitals and pure insistence that you deserve access to the other’s pants.

Flames of Desire had all these aspects of Tango (and, of course, the Milonga) but ultimately put the emphasis on showbiz acrobatics rather than the sensual erotic yearning upon which the dance is based, displacing the heart and soul for teeth and cleavage. This may be partly because the ten strong troupe, unusually for a dance form that sets great store on experience and maturity, was relatively young and relished in the high energy fireworks they excelled at.

Their speed of footwork, pointed precision of movement and sublime execution of partner-enveloping manoeuvres was exceptional. Jennifer Lopez favourites German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi’s early A Los Amigos routine was mind-bending in its flashy complexity and concluded with such a blast of bravura that many in the audience shot out of their seats with a roar of approval.

The pacing of the show, however, was a little wonky. Excellent though they were, we saw a little too much in the second half of the band, Quarteto Fuego, when really the dancers should have been hogging the limelight – a real climax to the show never arrived. Also, despite a nice line in sharp suits, the night’s crooner, Jesus Hidalgo, never conjured up the required smokey Buenos Aries salon atmosphere.

The real joy of Tango lies in the tug and pull, the shifting weight, the sudden changes of direction and the tight, tight hip twists and although this all got a bit lost amongst the razzle-dazzle lifts and poses, Flames of Desire is a West-End show after all and was a hugely entertaining affair.

Flames of Desire runs until 24 February 2013 and tickets are available from the Sadler’s Wells website.

Gerard Davis

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