It can be easy sometimes to sneer at shows like this that are seen to be peddling tired old cultural clichés. And while it’s true that Tango Fire does nothing to dispel the notion of the macho Latin male and the feisty Latin female, where is it written that it has to? The dance form has survived commercially for over a century now by presenting it thus and choreographer German Cornejo knows whose legs wear the stockings.
Therefore we find ourselves in a nightclub with men in sharp suits and women in sparkly evening gowns split up to the crotch and beyond. The men cavort and peacock themselves about while the women flutter fans and coyly cross their legs with knowing smiles. It’s laughable really but it works, it’s what we expect and, to be honest, when the dancers are as good as this team of ten, a multitude of sins can be forgiven.
The duets are best. The dexterity and speed of the footwork was universally outstanding so the differences between couples came mainly in the choice and execution of the money-shot lifts and drops.
Definitely the best were German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi who had such a tight understanding of each other’s bodies that they seemed glued to each other whatever outlandish stunt they were pulling. Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli pulled off an astonishing series of slip-sliding shoulder-high spins and Marcos Estaban Roberts and Louise Junqueira Malucelli’s second half routine burst out into a splendid legs-akimbo climax. Although the lower-key choreography of the intermittent ensemble routines didn’t hold the same appeal, there was absolutely no questioning the authority of the dancers as a whole.
They were let down a little by the supporting band and singer. While Quarteto Fuego are clearly excellent musicians, their playing lacked life (possibly not helped by a dodgy speaker) and although Jesus Hidalgo’s vocals had a soft, rich tone, he didn’t really inspire either. Never mind, despite a disappointingly weak finale, the dancing pressed all the right buttons.
Tango Fire runs at London’s Peacock Theatre until 18 February 2017. Tickets can be bought on the Sadler’s Wells website.