Review: Milonga at Saffron Hall, musically, aesthetically and visually, this show is perfection

Argentinian Tango is at Saffron Hall

Argentinian Tango is at Saffron Hall - Credit: Archant

For Saffron Hall’s first fully staged, professional dance show, a delighted audience was transported to the sultry streets of Buenos Aires on Friday and Saturday (June 2 and 3) for Sadler’s Wells production Milonga: Tango for the 21st Century.

Choreographed by Sadler’s Wells’ associate artist, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, this production takes its name from the place where tango dancers come together to dance and combines live music.

With a backdrop of evocative projections and bold, original choreography, it explored the very essence of tango by liberating its form through contemporary dance.

Each couple crafts their own narrative on stage be it the passionate lovers who break hold to argue in Spanish as she tries to pull away, or the coquettish, yet clown-like Vivana D’attorna who desperately tries to win her man. We are taken through every emotion of the human condition, from the weighty grief of a piece where women veiled in black are mourning, to the mesmerising sensuality of German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi’s partnership.

So impressive are the projections, including life-like images of the dancers projected onto silhouette cut-outs of themselves that at one point we see a couple sat in resigned postures on either side of the stage (through projection) watching their real life selves dance. The interpretations are numerous, is this a future fantasy or cherished memory? Who knows.

Tango consultant and rehearsal director, Nelida Rodriguez, told the audience in a post-show discussion that all the dancers had brought their own personalities and individuality to the creative process and that is how the narratives had been formed.

From the lilting violin to the first chords of the bandoneon concertina, Fernando Marzon and Szymon Brzoska’s score was passionate, nostalgic and yet permitted exploration and reinterpretation of a classic form.

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The show goes beyond the strict conventions of the Argentinian dance. We see a male contemporary trio reinvent the form of tango while maintaining its strength and rhythm to create exciting original work that defies the limitations of male-female partner dancing.

Musically, aesthetically, visually and through its ingenuity and electric performances, this show is perfection.