Billed as a tango musical Tanguera takes us on a journey through the backstreets of Buenos Aires in a time where passion and tension were at their highest. Tanguera is the story of our young heroine Giselle, a young French woman who hopes that Buenos Aires will be the start of her new life. Arriving at the port, Giselle first meets Lorenzo (Estaban Domenichini), a passionate dock worker before being thrust into the waiting arms of Gaudencio (Dabel Zanabria), a brothel owner with nefarious intentions.
The opening notes of the onstage orchestra reverberated throughout my body, leaving me filled with passion and excitement for what I was about to see. Unfortunately, this was to be the last time I would feel such passion until after the curtain call. The orchestra was accompanied by tango singing sensation Maranella, whose vocals were excellent, however, the random songs only added to the confusion of what it was I was supposed to be watching. Tanguera was full of tired, overdone tropes that I had seen thousands of times; the young woman coming to a new city hoping that her life would be vastly different and then through the lack of choice and money, she succumbs to selling her body.
The set design was beautiful, simple props and a clever use of backlighting set the scene. Reds and blacks filled the stage, the colour of passion, lust and something unseen. The dancehall scene was a sight to behold as the clever costuming and lighting showcased woman not only as objects of desire but as currency to be bought and sold.
The main cast, Melody Celatti (Giselle), Dabel Zanabria (Gaudencio) and Esteban Martin Domenichini (Lorenzo) are all award winning tango dancers and each movement was perfectly executed. However, Tanguera lacked the passion that it promised. Barring the odd timing issue between the chorus, every step was on point and executed with the expertise of years of practice. But the dancers failed to execute the passion that Tango deserves. With stony faces and little eye contact with their dance partners, the leads failed to make me feel anything for them. As an unidentified soubrette couple took the stage and danced a passionate tango, I felt that Tanguera might finally hit its stride, however, once again I was left disappointed.
It was not until the finale, which was strictly dancing between the cast, did passion arise. Smiles filled the cast’s faces, and eye contact was made with abandon. Tanguera needed to have had this passion and lust throughout for it to be anything more than a three-star production.
Review by Lisa Shaw
When Giselle, a young French woman, arrives in Argentina as one of the first waves of European immigrants, she meets Lorenzo, a port worker who falls in love with her at first sight. But as Giselle falls deeper into Buenos Aires’ seedy underworld, Lorenzo must fight to win her love.
With its award-winning choreography by renowned tango star Mora Godoy and direction by Omar Pacheco, Tanguera features a company of musicians and dance virtuosos who portray different elements of the history of tango. Leading the company for this production is tango world champion Melody Celatti, celebrated dancer and choreographer Dabel Zanabria and Argentinian dancer Esteban Domenichini, who starred in Tanguera when the show premiered in Argentina in 2002.
Wednesday 19 July – Sunday 6 August 2017