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Review of Tango After Dark at the Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells

Tango After DarkWell, it’s called Tango After Dark and it’s set in Buenos Aires at night. It fulfils what reasonable expectations there could be of a dance performance from that small amount of information very well. To put it another way, it doesn’t take a genius to work out what sort of show this is. It is possible, at a stretch, to eke out a storyline of sorts from this production, if one really wanted to. But in essence, it’s all about the tango, in its various forms, expressions, and levels of intensity. If you want anything else, please go and see a production that offers whatever it is you’re after, because this show is very focused in what it sets out to achieve.

I assume this is Buenos Aires in whatever passes for winter in Buenos Aires: the men, for the most part, wear jackets as well as shirts, and the women, in their gowns and dresses, could also be mistaken for heading out for the evening in London or any other major city. What sets them all apart, as I say, individually and collectively, is the Argentine tango (or, more properly, ‘tango argentino’) – and there is, thankfully, plenty of it.

This, strictly speaking, is ‘nuevo tango’ in action, which, as I understand it, refers to the sort of music that includes melodies, harmonies and musical instruments that weren’t part of Argentine tango until Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992) came along and shook things up. There’s even such a thing called ‘neotango’, distinct from nuevo tango, much broader and focusing on contemporary music, in any and all forms. That is, of course, for another production at another time.

Here, there’s not much in the way of set, with the lighting creating an appropriate atmosphere time after time. The on-stage band, led by Diego Ramos, were given several moments during proceedings to shine of their own accord, giving both performers and audience a chance to breathe easy and take in the music after seeing some incredibly skilful dancing and movement that was occasionally exhausting to watch.

While the large ensemble dances were very pleasurable, it is in the scenes with only one couple on stage that the production shines brightest. I suspect this is because of the improvisation element of tango dancing that (presumably) comes into play, as opposed to the bigger scenes, where every couple is performing exactly the same moves in exactly the same manner (which is, of course, a spectacle in its own right, especially when the speed and dexterity of the movements is taken into account).

There’s never a dull moment in this show, with a wide variety of tunes in terms of tempo and emotion – there’s a sort of passion that is pleasant, and a sort of passion that is fiery; not angry, but earnest. Both are in evidence in a production that gradually builds to a spectacular finish – the best was saved for last. It’s not like the first half was in any way lacklustre, but those who stayed for Act Two will have found an even greater display of energy and vibrancy.

There are no video projections or special effects, and no attempt to fit a fixed narrative around the musical numbers. It’s just tango, tango and more tango. And it works. A slick, streamlined and somewhat sultry production.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

As the night falls, the music of the great Argentine tango composer, bandoneon player and arranger, Astor Piazzolla, merges with the sophisticated and sensual performance of world-class Argentinean dancers to reveal tango in its most authentic and pure form. Tango superstar Cornejo, who is widely acclaimed by critics and audiences all over the world as one of the most distinguished tango artists working today, leads his outstanding cast of 10 dancers, including his long-term dance partner and collaborator Gisela Galeassi in this mesmerising new show. Accompanied by two sensational singers and seven musicians playing tango classics, Tango After Dark keeps the passion of tango burning deep into the night.

Choreographed by Cornejo, Tango After Dark follows his previous success, Tango Fire, which won Best Theatre Production in the 2015 UK Latin Awards and has been presented to sell-out audiences at The Peacock since 2007. Cornejo and his dance partner, Galeassi, are both World Tango Champions and are widely known for their performances with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Antony.

WORLD PREMIERE
Germán Cornejo
Tango After Dark
The Peacock, WC2A 2HT
Wednesday 28 February – Saturday 17 March 2018

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