Che Malambo are an explosive Argentinian company of 12 male performers, who thrill audiences with their mesmerising fast footwork, testosterone-boosted rhythmic drumming and a spectacular party piece, that sees them fearlessly whirl boleadoras (neon coloured lassos with stones on the end) among each other’s heads, prompting audiences to gasp in awe.
However, this wealth of energy is tempered with skill under the accomplished direction of Gilles Brinas, a former dancer with Ballet de l’Opera de Lyon. Che Malambo have toured sporadically since 2007, predominantly in the US and continental Europe, but this is their first visit to London.
The company begin with spirited drumming performing fast rhythms as an ensemble. It’s an early indication that this is a group drilled to perfection. Brinas’ fast paced choreography is unforgiving of mistakes, and the company deliver these percussive segments flawlessly with a hearty roar to finish.
Their brooding power is channeled just as effectively through their feet as their drums. The men may stomp and shout convincingly but they are also compact, precise dancers (their Cuban heels creating rhythms alongside the drum beats) with elastic ankles that blur, and legs that pulsate in both solo and group routines inspired by the rhythms of galloping horses.
As the action unfolds, these charismatic performers have various opportunities to showcase themselves in smaller packs and in solos. The rare slower segments featuring more deliberately placed footwork give the impression that the performers are communicating through their own private language.
Occasionally, the ideas for the separate sections that make up the show seem a little repetitious; the swinging boleadoras are thrilling but once you have witnessed the company’s sublime execution of whipping two of these around their heads at warp speed there isn't much more to be gained from seeing it again other than a bit of showing off, which the opening night’s audience lapped up.
Brinas’ demanding arrangement requires the company consistently to demonstrate versatility and agility, with the elegance of ballet dancers and the strength and dexterity of the fiery Malambo traditions they are reproducing. The image of the 12 performers whirling their lassoes while delivering their finely tuned rhythms through their Cuban heels perfectly sums this up.
Just when you think you’ve witnessed the exhilarating peak of Che Malambo’s talents, they embark on a new section with the same raw, primal energy of the one before. It’s relentless, and in a way, fortunate that the running time is only 80 minutes, as both audience and performers are exhausted by the last boleadoras extranganza, in which the full company combine their Cuban heels and lassos to reach the ultimate final crescendo
|What||Che Malambo Review|
|Where||Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London, WC2A 2HT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Holborn (underground)|
18 Jul 18 – 22 Jul 18, 19:30 Sat mat 14:30 Sun 16:00 only Dur.: 80 minutes
|Website||Click here to book via Sadler's Wells website|