Dramatic, absorbing and entertaining in equal measure, Tangomotion, now touring the UK, is a unique show of all things Tango – delicious music and delightful dance. I saw the show at our own Northern Stage, and it is both an informative insight into the complex dramatic world of tango music, and a showcase of the fascinating genre of the unique Argentinian Tango itself. I first watched the Argentinian Tango in Beunos Aires in 1995 in a street cafe. Tango wasn’t so well known over here then, but I knew instinctively that it was something very special and exotic. Tango is now officially cool here in the UK, and a huge audience has come to appreciate this South American dance of passion, with shows like Strictly Come Dancing top of the TV ratings.
The tango dancers were just superb. New choreography has been created for the 2018 tour by world class tango dancers Alexandra Wood, Guillermo Torrens, Paula Duarte and Richard Manuel. They were by turns, darkly passionate, flirtatious, melancholy, tender and extraordinarily athletic. This is no easy dance form. The costumes are equally impressive. The men swagger in gorgeous suits with wide legged pants. the women have impossibly glamorous sparkly dresses which show off their sinuous thoroughbred bodies.
This passionate posturing partner dancing, circling, spinning, following, mirroring your other half, with joyous flicks and kicks and staccato steps reminded me of so many mating rituals of beautiful birds. It’s a pattern which draws you in and almost feels like trying to understand a whole other language, which I guess is just what tango is.
Tangomotion is essentially a traditional tango dance and music theatre show with the music itself as much centre stage as the breath taking dancers. The musical quartet consisted of Jonathan Taylor on piano – who was incidentally also an amiable host – explaining a little about different styles of tango music and musicians in an accessible and rather amusing manner. Music ranged form the atmospheric old style Tango of 1930’s and 40’s Buenos Aires, through to the genius of Astor Piazolla an arrogant bandoneon master and composer who created the powerful Neuevo Tango music which encompasses a more modern, innovative style.
Tom Mason on double base was great, as was the very talented Emma on violin. Julian Rowlands made the incredibly difficult to play bandoneon, look easy. The bandoneon is a curious instrument and not a mere accordion as you might initially think. It was actually created in Germany, and originally brought to Argentina by emigrant sailors and became adopted by the emerging tango music genre. It is a substantial squeeze box with complicated sets of buttons which are laid out in a less than obvious manner. It gives the tango that familiar folk dance sound, and is now a rare instrument. Good bandoneon players are equally as rare.
This particular show has been put together by Tango Siempre (Tango Forever,) the UK’s leading tango company. Tango Siempre are Strictly regulars by the way, and composed the music for Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace’s show ‘Midnight tango’ performing in three UK tours and two West End runs to great acclaim. Tango Siempre was first formed in 1998 (not long after my Argentinian expedition) and they have been touring the UK and Europe with different Tango related projects ever since.
Tango Siempre created the musical score for the Olivier-nominated “Midnight Tango” starring (BBC Strictly Come Dancing), and performed the show nearly 500 times in three UK tours and two West End runs to great critical acclaim. It sometimes puzzles me when watching the colourful athletic dance styles which originate from other countries, that the best we could come up with was Morris Dancing. However, I think we’re making up for it now, as it is possible to see some of the best examples of all genres of dance right here in my home town of Newcastle. And Tangomotion – delicious as the darkest chocolate – is right up there among some of the best I have seen. Check out other dates of their tour here