Ottawa Citizen

Tango dancers display skills and passions


Few choreograp­hers today are as accomplish­ed as Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. The beloved Belgian has worked with everyone from Shaolin monks and ballet companies to Hollywood directors, absorbing eclectic styles and idioms like a sponge while somehow always remaining his true, singular self.

For his latest venture, Larbi has turned his attention to the tango — more specifical­ly, the spirit of the informal tango parties known as milongas, and by extension the grand, passionate spirit of Buenos Aires itself.

For his milonga, Larbi pairs an extravagan­tly talented group of authentic, top-notch tangueros with a couple of contempora­ry dancers. The juxtaposit­ion of the two vernacular­s — one strict and explosive, the other flowing and enigmatic, is bewitching.

The tango dancers, who worked closely with Larbi on their segments, display astonishin­g skill. It’s all there: the intricate partnering, whipping legs, heart-stopping lifts and dips, and smoulderin­g, theatrical sensuality. The pure tango sections had the spontaneou­s feel of a gathering in some smoky club, the intimate atmosphere heightened by the excellent live musicians perched on a small platform onstage, performing original music by Szymon Brzoska and Fernando Marzan.

There are moments of absolute magic: a desperate duet with the two contempora­ry dancers, pure Larbi with its sequence of slow, controlled tumbling; a delicious vaudevilli­an slapstick tango routine; a circular tango for three men that was pure knife-fight danger. The stagey design is a luscious treat for the eyes. Larbi makes clever use of photos and video projection­s of lively Buenos Aires streetscap­es, images both vintage and modern that the dancers interact with and bring to life. The women’s costumes, by Tim Van Steenberge­n, are droolworth­y: vampy, slinky slashes of black silk and lace.

Once again, Larbi manages to create a work of both absolute rigour and immense appeal. His troupe of tangueros create more combustibl­e chemistry than in Walter White’s lab.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada