It transports audiences to the smoky nightclubs of early 20th century Buenos Aires, depicting an infinitely complex relationship between men and women, a dance of seduction and power, where challenge, dominance and submission alternate and evolve with ever more intricate sequences of steps.
All that is present in m¡longa; but the added value comes from the perspective of Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
Over his career, the Moroccan-Belgian choreographer, a regular at Sadler’s Wells, has sought inspiration in topics as culturally different as the Bible – Babel; Buddhism – Sutra and the Japanese manga tradition in TeZuka, to mention but a few of his award-winning creations.
With m¡longa, Cherkaoui became the first non-Argentine artist to direct a large-scale tango production. Bringing together a highly talented cast of ten Argentine dancers and five live musicians, m¡longa has been touring internationally to great acclaim since its debut in 2013 when it wowed audiences at Sadler’s Wells.
Collaboration is the keyword here. Tango superstar Nelida Rodriguez de Aure is part of the production team, and the show features new music from Argentine composer Fernando Marzan and Cherkaoui’s long term collaborator Szymon Brzóska. With video and set design by Eugenio Szwarcer, and costumes by renowned fashion designer Tim Van Steenbergen, m¡longa combines traditional Argentine aesthetics with state of the art technology.
Cherkaoui says he’s been fascinated by the tango since the beginnings of his career. He says: "What attracts me most about tango is the eternal embrace of the dancers. When a tango couple dances, we sense the hypnotic dialogue between two bodies connecting intuitively, merging into one. If there is such a thing as my style of dance, it is rooted in touch, in physical contact - and that is inherent in tango."
So, he didn't seek to change it. Just tweak. Mix in some of his own sensibility, some of his own cultural context. Gently blend. Or, as The Telegraph put it, “play with the art form in all manner of wonderful ways, dissecting its movements, tropes and moods, and reassembling them in all sorts of new and riveting configurations.”
And there you have it: a fascinating exploration of both traditional and contemporary tango for the 21st century, by turns dazzling, exhilarating and profoundly moving.
We can't recommend it highly enough!
Free post-show dance class: Tues 23rd May
|What||m¡longa, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui: Sadler's Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
22 May 17 – 24 May 17, 19:30
|Website||click here to book via the Sadler's Wells website|