THE PEACOCK, LONDON
A stripped-down spectacular
In a crowded field, German Cornejo’s troupe is one of the most popular touring tango companies
Tango Fire is a feast of tango. Led by choreographer and Argentine tango champion German Cornejo and his partner Gisela Galeassi, it’s a stripped-down spectacular: six couples, musicians Quarteto Fuego playing live on stage, and a parade of seductive show dances.
In a crowded field, Cornejo’s troupe is one of the most popular touring tango companies: this is Tango Fire’s seventh London season, due to popular demand. It’s easy to see why. Feet flash so fast your eye can barely keep up, legs flicking and intertwining with intricate, teasing speed. Dancers dip into deep backbends and deeper lunges, wind around each other, clash or melt.
Cornejo’s production feels both luxurious and no-frills. The clothes are glamorous, the stage bare: it’s all about the dancing. There are some group numbers, a hint of scene-setting, but the duets are the heart of the show. Each couple is given a chance to shine, each with their own personality. The first half suggests tango in social settings, as if the dancers were gathering at a bar, trying out steps and flirting. The second ramps up the performance: more lifts, more acrobatics.
Cornejo and Galeassi combine silken line with phenomenally strong partnering. They’re tango all-rounders: the high-speed footwork never becomes hectic, and they share a powerful onstage glamour. When it comes to the lifts, Cornejo whirls Galeassi as if she were a lasso, her body swinging and curling in the air, both daring and utterly at ease. I loved Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre, who combine tight, sharp footwork with a voluptuous breadth of movement. In an evening of show tango, they find a particular intimacy – they’re the closest to the spontaneous, improvised quality of social dance. Even their most theatrical numbers have a sense of give and take, shared breath and grand display. Julio Jose Seffino and Carla Dominguez have a distinctive sense of momentum: steps seem to have the unstoppable swing of a pendulum, until they snap to a halt. Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli have an unpredictable recklessness in their acrobatic numbers, leaping into position.
Marcos Esteban Roberts and Louis Junqueira Malucelli bring an almost brittle speed to their footwork; I like them best in the shimmying steps and tiny quarter turns on the spot: her sequinned dress seems to shimmer with trembling movement. Esteban Simon and Marilu Leopardi dance with prowling grace.
The show also gives space to its musicians, the quartet of piano, violin, bandoneon and contrabass bringing attack and individuality to both traditional and more recent tango music.
The Independent Culture
DATE WITH DESIRE
They’re back! Tango sensations German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi are sizzling away in the West End again as only they can. When these two dance together, they are expressing humanity’s basic instinct – sexual desire.
The opening is a bit of a tease. The house lights dim, there’s a blackout, then a pool of light into which swim the couple we have all come to see. Cue Galeassi’s leg whip-lashing in and out between her partners thigh.
What you notice immediately about Argentine tango, as danced by two of the countries natives, is the absence of toothy grins. This is earnest as it is erotic. And all presented in the best possible taste. But don’t worry there is a great deal of smiling along the way, on both sides of the footlights. Never ones to pussyfoot around the edges of their favourite art form, the couple dive headfirst into the expressiveness they love. Yes it's a bit over the top but the two dancers have a unique talent and they have, thankfully, dropped their redundant solo singers, greatly increasing their dance time and our enjoyment. Bliss. The four piece band, the Quarteto Fuego, is based at the back of the stage, their sound hugely enjoyable. And it is fascinating to watch the intimate cooperation between music and movement. Looks, nods and winks are exchanged between musicians and dancers all evening.
Cornejo and Galeassi are by no means on their own. Five other couples dance with and in support of them. Infectious enjoyment is the theme and the stage is filled with smiles. Act two added a broader presentation, a stripped stage, vivid lighting of deep blue and crimson, but most of all the joy of dance. What more can you want?
3 Feb 2019
Jeffery Taylor (Dance Critic)
a real celebration of the Argentine Tango
There are few dance styles more beautiful to watch than the Argentine Tango; ballet can be lovely, even moving but without decades of training it is out of reach for most people whereas the earthy sensuality of the Argentine Tango makes you want to rush out to the nearest dance school. German Cornejo’s latest version of Tango Fire with its shifting tones, fluid movements and intense, emotional storytelling might just convince you to get dancing.
Arriving at the Peacock Theatre for a brief run, Tango Fire is everything you need from a dance show, six skilled couples led by Cornejo, inventive choreography, changing rhythms and lots of great music. There’s no overarching narrative as such but the first half, comprising 13 separate numbers, follows the couples as they meet for the first time on a sunny afternoon, before heading for a formal evening event and eventually to a more sensual and intense after dark celebration.
It’s a light and flirty start as the Company dance a Tango Foxtrot together as they chose their partners, finding a syncopated rhythm between them as they enjoy a casual meeting. After a brief parting, the lovers are reunited at an evening dance, the men fighting with one another before they form a chorus line to El Firulete / La Tramperato which they dance a milonga. Dapper in waistcoats and hats, it has a cheeky Guys and Dolls feel while couples perform a variety of Company and solo pieces using circular shapes to create a precise ballroom feel.
Just before the interval – which occurs abruptly a mere 40-minutes into the show – Cornejo and his partner Gisela Galeassi up the ante with a dramatic and sexy tango that takes on a much slower, more intimate style, eventually joined by the other couples all dressed dramatically in black. Across the first half, the energy shifts as the technical display is enhanced, the easy romance of the early numbers transforming into spikier shapes and a growing sense of something at stake between the couples.
Act Two abandons the half narrative to showcase the skill and variety of the individual pairings, with each getting their own solo number which they have choreographed full of acrobatics, while performing in increasingly daring group numbers. Opening with a dance full of slow and creeping movement performed by Julio Jose Seffino and Carla Dominguez, the Company then reunite for a Tango Cabaret to Quejas De Bandoneonusing chairs to create height and variety in the arrangement.
The solos become increasingly daring, and while a romantic and fluid dance performed with changing speed by Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre unites tango with influences from contemporary dance, it is German and Galeassi who steal the show again with their Tango / Adagio that borrow some of the basic presenting and fan-shapes of a romantic and wistful Rumba and builds the intensity with intricate step patterns and a couple of outstanding tricks including a one-armed lift above the head, showcasing German’s impressive strength, and a moment in which he cradles Galeassi before spinning her in one full rotation in his arms.
Tango Fire isn’t just concerned with dance, and also gives plenty of stage time to the musicians with a number of instrumental sections to cover costume changes. Pianist and Musical Director Matias Feigin clearly demonstrates the importance of the rhythm in creating the shape and tone of the dances, with the final section Adidos Nonino offering solos to each instrument starting with a contemplative piano piece, before a soaring violin section for Gemma Scalia and a twiddly bandoneon played by Clemente Carrascai, all supported by Facundo Benavidez on contrabass.
The interval and eventual conclusion do happen a little too abruptly while dancer Victoria Saudelli looks less comfortable in the group pieces than her fellow dancers. Yet, throughout the evening, the Company’s absolute precision and responsive to the music is incredible, and this exactness extends to the show’s timing, finishing on the dot of two hours as advertised including multiple curtain calls and a mini-encore. Tango Fire is so beautiful to watch and a real celebration of the Argentine Tango.
The Reviewers Hub
Reviewer: Maryam Philpott
FALL FOR DANCE FESTIVAL 2017
NEW YORK CITY CENTER
Also impressive were presentations that enhanced the scope and significance of a particular dance form. German Cornejo’s Tango Fire delivered an Argentine Tango clinic, but also expanded the tango far beyond its usual parameters, both stylistically and structurally. The dances aren’t limited to couples, either alone or in pairs, as I’ve most often seen in tango presentations. On the contrary, the piece is an ensemble presentation highlighted by individual dances, and has an overall cohesiveness that takes it beyond the style and the individual excellence of its dancers. Tango is a very grounded dance form, but these dances, and dancers, took flight. The word “amazing” is often overused, but the five couples, gathered, all were amazing, as was Cornejo’s choreography for each of the individual dances.
CRITICAL DANCE, New York (USA), 2017.
Tango Fire burns down the house with impressive performance
SEPTEMBER 22, 2017
Tango: I hear the word and right away I know I don’t want to just watch it, I want to get up and dance it. Its infectious rhythms and movements comprise a unique art form, and if you like it much the way I do, you want your tango rooted in steamy sweat and leggy suavity. Nothing can ever appear forced, rushed or out of place. The best tango is a well-blended confection of eros suffused in sublime elegance, never trivial, always a tease.
Arriving this week to warm us up on these cold September nights of miserable, wet snow showers was Germán Cornejo’s jet-setting Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires, billed as the world’s leading exponent of Tango fantasía. And they truly are that: drinking in this transfixing 10-person ensemble while they burn their way onto the Jubilee stage was a privilege. A perfect way to lead off Alberta Ballet’s 51st season, Tango Fire is here only until Saturday.
There is plenty of elegance and subtlety, for those who think that Tango Fire doesn’t bring enough of either (they certainly do). And then there are those who object to the compadre roles of the men, replete with macho and swagger, but this is a vision of tango at its most authentic and at its historical best. Regardless, don’t miss tango meeting the theatrical, the imaginative glitz, or saucy, pure tango liso served straight-up smooth.
Cornejo has broad training beyond just tango and it often shows. His choreographies draw on a wide array of ideas and scenarios, especially in Act II whose 13 numbers on their own are worth the price of admission. Watch how beautifully upper and lower bodies move in harmony, always with apparent seamless facility that belies tango’s athletic difficulty. Sheer physicality and acrobatic versatility certainly dominate — but such art grown from muscular endurance doesn’t scrimp on elegance. With ice-skating gymnastics, an array of lifts, mid-air holds, carries and a broad variety of frozen poses in seemingly impossible positions, Tango Fire transforms the muscular into meticulous art
The Tango Fire Company of Argentina dances to Verano Potenos. The show is presented by Alberta Ballet Sept. 21-23.
Be prepared for the eclectic and the electric: foxtrot à la tango, a peppy, old-styled cheek-to-cheek canyengue, diverse forms of club tango midnight milonga, a romàntico or two — the show has it all. But best are the much-anticipated and fluidly articulated latigazos, the leg-whip movements we associate with virtuoso Argentine tango and a how-to clinic in quickness that never leaves out an ounce of either precision nor passion.
If the first act demonstrated the finer points of tango liso (smooth tango) in its purest aspects, the second half explored the very different side of tango’s smoky nightclub roots, costumed and backdropped in blues and muted purples, smoky haze, and a range of formal attire for both the men and the ladies that eventually tipped over the deep-end away from the tuxedo and into the turpitude. The stunning contrast of costumes, constantly eye-catching, immersively involving is inextricable with Tango Fire’s movement art.
The rhythmically infectious ric-tic-tic live band of piano, bandoneon (concertina), violin and bass played in perfect counterpoise, giving plenty of strong instrumental moments of spirited Piazzolla and Pugliese, underscoring the superb second act’s kinesthetically impressive, stylistically contrasting duets. But the mid-act centrepiece triple-duet Violentango, with a metre-tall red sash extended mid-air across the entire stage, stole the show. It was arrestingly impressive, featuring Marcos Esteban Roberts and Louise Junqueira Malucelli, Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre, Julio Seffino and Carla Dominguez all danced around, and at times it seemed, through the fabric for over three mesmerizing minutes. A dark-hearted and sinister Susu preceding it was the perfect sultry complement.
Sauciest of all were Sebastián Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli in a brazenly erotic Libertango, which seemed to take the dance form to the extreme. For many, Saudellis’s body stocking with glitzy decoration will seem tacky, but for other viewers, it will appear as full-on sexy.
For me, it was neither: it was the movement itself that was entirely transfixing. In some ways, Libertango was exactly what the title conveyed about the work, a study piece in athletic movement freedom designed to exceed the social norms that tango is supposed to violate. Tango Fire shows us exactly what dance is for — to set the body free and the spirit along with it.
Tango at it sexiest and most stupendous
Mark Monahan, dance critic
2 FEBRUARY 2017
Tango Fire”? As a title, it’s cornier than a tub of Butterkist, but don’t let that put you off. For this is one of the most stupendous and drop-dead-sexy displays of tango – nay, of any type of dancing – that you are likely to see all year.
Returning after a four-year absence and essentially unchanged since last time, it’s performed by 10 impossibly glamorous dancers, supported by an impossibly glamorous four-piece band across the back of the stage (even the violinist looks like a film star, for heaven’s sake). Further adding to the fun are the good-natured swagger and burnished-oak tones of singer Jesus Hidalgo, who comes on often to serenade cast and audience alike.
Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli in Tango Fire Credit: Alastair Muir In some ways, the show calls to mind much of the best stand-up comedy: not merely because it makes you laugh delightedly, more that it creates a beguiling illusion of utter spontaneity, whereas every millimetre of movement has clearly been choreographed with a jeweller’s attention to detail.
It springs instantly to life, with one couple delivering an easy-going tango foxtrot as the band merrily chugs away behind them. But – as if gathering for a late-evening “milonga” in some Buenos Aires square – the other four couples soon join them. And, within just a minute or two, the decet has already whipped up a remarkable head of steam.
Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre in Tango Fire Credit: Alastair Muir The dancing is stunning. With its chest-to-chest touching and flickering lower-limbs, tango is the most intimate dance style there is, and never more so than here. It is impossible not to marvel at the insolent virility and femininity of the performers’ bearing; the iris-defying speed and precision of the intertwining latigazos (or “whips”) that they execute with their legs; the artful, sensuous dialogues between the upper and lower body.
German Cornejo (who created the show) and partner Gisela Galeassi make a particularly super couple, but best of all are Ezeqiel Lopez and Camila Alegre. From their early, blistering dance to Mala Junta on, the 2015 Tango World Champions display a poise, energy and mutual telepathy that are skin-pricklingly exciting.
Some of the dancing ensemble of Tango Fire Credit: Alastair Muir Like the show’s first half, the second is divided into 13 sections. These up the acrobatic, theatrical and showbizzy ante – the “wow” factor – while making one pine at times for the purer tango of part one, and sometimes feeling like too much of a good thing. Had the show been merely an hour straight through (as opposed to two, with an interval), I’d have gone home even happier.
But enough carping. This is a marvellous confection, conceived with love and delivered with electrifying brio.
Tango Fire? In fact, no other name could possibly do.
Pure velocity and plenty of sizzle
2 FEB 2017
Pure velocity: German Cornejo and partner Gisela Galeassi race brilliantly through the steps Andrew W Lang Gender enlightenment has not exactly reached the world of Tango Fire. By the end of this show the prowling men look primed for a fight, while the women are tossed around the stage dressed like Victoria's Secret models. But that's all part of tango's macho showmanship. It's not subtle, but there's plenty of sizzle.
Backed by a four-piece live band and singer Jesus Hidalgo, five couples move from old-time charm through slick and slinky seduction to some audacious – if not always entirely elegant – acrobatics. The skill level here is as high as the knicker-revealing slits in the dancers' glamorous dresses.
The first act, especially, explores a variety of tango styles with a playful approach to choreography and footwork executed with supreme control at breakneck speed. Dancer/director German Cornejo and partner Gisela Galeassi race brilliantly through virtuoso steps but they also sumptuously stretch out musical phrases before snapping back into rhythm.
Occasionally, the deadly serious sexiness that is tango's default – deeply furrowed brow, major pout, dramatic breathing – gets a bit tired, but the dancing, well, for flashy skill and pure velocity, this is some of the best you'll see on the London stage.
Argentinian dance stars German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi meet Dickensian London head on and win hands, and feet, down.
Sun, Feb 5, 2017
Argentinian dance stars German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi are back. For a couple of hours or so they and their fellow dancers whisk us away from the frost, fog and drizzly streets outside to their intimate world of glamour, erotic passion and the sheer joy of moving to music.
The show’s formula is still the same but, as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it?
Tradition has it that the birth of Tango came about in docklands when pent up sailors danced together as they queued for their girls.
There is a brief nod to history as the men fool around in a group but they are dressed as public school chums in pristine shirt sleeves and immaculately pressed trousers, with nothing resembling tatty and smelly uniforms.
Thankfully the girls soon redress the balance of the sexes and the stage magically melds into the exotic, dimly lit nightclub atmosphere we all love and where we can all relax.
Except the dancers, of course. Four musicians are a permanent fixture on their low dais, but with only one bandoneon concertina, the instrument that for me expresses the Tango soul.
For a couple of hours or so they and their fellow dancers whisk us away from the frost The first act is packed with the traditional repertoire of steps. We see the girl’s feet whipping in and out between the men’s legs as she and her partner grip each other with an almost desperate air and rarely smile at each other.
That intensity is perhaps the secret ingredient of Tango that most of us are there to see. What is sexier than the man’s utter concentration on the woman and her expert acceptance of the power of his energy? It works for most of us.
Following the interval we see the influence of modern dance smoothing out some of the angular punch but the male/female intensity never wavers.
The feeling I personally find most compelling when watching the dancers of Tango Fire is that underneath the slick and expert professionalism this is not just a job, it is a way of life.
The show is at the Peacock until Feburary 18, then touring the south of England for a week. Treat yourself but be warned, you might never be the same again.
‘The dancing is superb, it’s an evening to relish’
FEBRUARY 2, 2017
German Cornejo’s Tango Fire sets the Peacock Theatre alight with its racy virtuosity. It’s set in the world of Tango, where men are masterful and fully dressed while their women flex and bend, wearing most often not too much.
The show starts slowly with impossibly gorgeous dancers moving about the stage in strong light, a town square in day time perhaps, dressed in black and white, everyone is becoming acquainted. The singer sings in mellifluous Spanish, setting the tone, taking us somewhere warm and far away. There’s a four-piece band shadowed across the back of the stage, describing the 2/4 beat that is Tango.
As night descends, five partnerships are found on stage, each bringing their own interpretation of the dance to the show. Solo dances are choreographed by the individual couples, the group dances by German Cornejo. This satisfying arrangement brings vitality and variation to the show.
This dance form is able to express tension, conflict and the likely inevitability of resolution simultaneously. Hands are mostly clasped, upper bodies remaining taut and intent, as legs move with impossible speed to the snap of rhythm and the stretch of musical flow. In one stunning dance, by Marcos Esteban Roberts and Louise Junqueira Malucelli, her feet barely touch the ground.
There are thirteen dances in each half of the show, broken by an interval. Time flies. In the second part the show becomes ever more dramatic. Oblivion, an ensemble piece in the second half is superb. In Susa, German sends his partner Gisela Galeassi flying around the stage as the rhythm of the music becomes part of the audience too. What started as glossy theatrics turns to feeling. Follow that you think and the dancers do, as the lifts become ever more extraordinary and the audience are amazed. Of course the 2015 Tango World Champions on stage, Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre. What a chemistry of synchronicity this pair have. Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli are also an interesting couple to watch, performing with a distinctly fearless style of racy sensuosity.
There are a number of musical interludes in the show in which the talented violinist, Gemma Scalia, is most affecting in her playing.
The audience loved the show on opening night, there was a standing ovation and an encore of great charm. The dancing is superb, it’s an evening to relish.
Tango Fire Sets the Peacock Alight
There are many tango shows touring the world, but SEEN seriously doubts that they are all of the calibre of Tango Fire. Germán Cornejo and his dancers, singer and musicians have created a show that is not just about the sexual and sensual heat of the tango but also about heartbreak and all the sadness that besets human relationships. Something akin perhaps to the cante jondo of Flamenco: we’re all going to die so let’s dance like our lives depended on it. Indeed, the swift hooking movements (ganchos) and the dizzying swinging of the female dancers around the bodies of the male partners had much of the abandon of the Tarantella about it. It isn’t difficult to see why it’s so addictive to watch and perform.
Tango has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the mainstream because of the tango foxtrot on Strictly Come Dancing but SEEN thinks it’s far more satisfying in its pure form, which is not to say that it’s fallen into the clichéd expression of yesteryear, but rather as Joaquin Cortes did with flamenco, Cornejo and his talented company have brought tango bang up to date with modern routines that draw from ballet and modern dance while some of the routines were so gobsmacking in their acrobatic grace that the audience was brought to its feet several times. The staging was simple and dramatic; a lit back-cloth and sparing use of props including chairs, a box that looked like a mirror frame or even an upended coffin, and a huge length of red cloth that became part of the dance.
The musicians, Quarteto Fuego playing piano, double bass, bandoneon and violin and singer punctuated the action with their own set pieces and accompaniments and were uniformly excellent. The singer Jesus Hidalgo had a mournfully rich and vibrant voice, taking us straight back to the 1950s. The costumes were beautifully designed; how good did the gentlemen look in their double-breasted suits? The women’s costumes were cleverly designed to accommodate the ganchos and the flow of the dancing and were resolutely modern. The audience gave them a standing ovation and rightly so. There is tango, then there is Germán Cornejo. Performing until 18th February. SEEN recommends.
Tango dancers are on fire
The West Australian
July 29, 2016
It’s one of the most watched scenes of the silent movie era: Rudolph Valentino dancing the tango in Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in 1921. It created a sensation. But when considered in relation to the dancers of Tango Fire, it pales almost into insignificance.
These performers bring faultless physical control to their dancing, their stage deportment is superbly disciplined and, quite literally, they seem never to put a foot wrong. The company has the priceless advantage of German Cornejo as choreographer who, with a touch of genius that borders on the miraculous, has taken the tango in its most basic sense and transformed it into a vivid and sophisticated art form.
The men are impeccably turned out, radiating machismo and hauteur. With brilliantined hair and footwork of phenomenal finesse, they add to the overall impact of one of the most compellingly watchable dance productions seen in Perth for some time.
The women, too, whether in a solo routine or complex ensemble piece, dazzled the eye and set the pulse racing. And despite routines of the most physically punishing kind, the company looked as alert and glamorous in the closing moments of the performance as at curtain-up.
And they were as convincing in dances of a more introverted kind as in episodes of teasing frivolity.
Apart from his work as choreographer, Cornejo is also a first rate dancer, splendidly so in Susu in duo with Gisela Galeassi✓. Marcos Roberts and Louise Malucelli✓ also brought the house down in Gallo Ciego✓ as did Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli in Libertango which gleamed with simmering sensuousness.
Here, and throughout, the women dancers were magnificently gowned. And there was also an excellent lighting design.
Bouquets to the musicians whose tireless focus and rock-solid rhythmic underpinning were a near-perfect foil for the dancers. Matias Feigin✓ did first rate work at the piano; Clemente Carrascal✓ was no less effective on the bandoneon - a type of concertina inextricably associated with the tango.
Five couples light up the floor
August 11, 2016
It may take two to tango, but it takes 15 to Tango Fire. German Cornejo’s company features five couples and a stellar musical quartet with singer Jesus Hidalgo.
With their tight musical interpretations and quick as a whip footwork the duets are, understandably, the production’s drawcard. Still, 90 minutes of theatrical show cannot rely solely on signature routines.
Cornejo spiffs it up with ensemble flurries, substantial musical interludes and familiar tango props (chairs, cabaret tables, rippling red fabric). He injects more than a touch of the boudoir with corset-inspired costumery and doesn’t skimp on the machismo. Women are women and men are men, in all the ways you would expect from Buenos Aires’s tango elite.
While gender delineations and sexual tension are all on standard, the dancing itself is often out of the box, mixing flashy lifts with the complex and constantly building rhythms of the various tangos. A single routine goes from tight, spot-lit wrapping legs to space-eating aerial frenzy. Within the umbrella of tango, there’s a lot going on choreographically.
Cornejo takes the possibilities that “nuevo” and “fantasia”/“show” tango provide to find new freedoms, most notably in the use of overhead lifts, floor spins and ridiculously tricky dips. The grunt factor pays off more often than not, giving Tango Fire its spark.
The moments when rhythmical complexity, technical finesse and jaw-dropping movements come together propel the show, not to mention the consistent energy of the four musicians that never lags from top to tail.
All five couples have their feature moments to shine. Mariano Balois and Florencia Roldan have a solid connection with glimpses of relaxation amid the challenging physicality. Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi’s steely commitment and technical panache allow for sweeping heights and awesome lines.
Oddly divided into a short 30 minute act and then a 60 minute act, Tango Fire mixes playful and intimate with showy and broad. With the band visible from a prominent upstage platform, the simple set-up allows Tango Fire’sdancers to be front and centre while always reinforcing the core relationship of music and dance.
"Fire and Passion"
There is something incredibly exhilarating in seeing any artist at the peak of their brilliance, and when there are ten of them, imbued with the fire and passion that is the Argentinian Tango, it would be difficult not to feel the adrenaline rush even sitting in the stalls. The passion is palpable; the excitement all embracing. It was not “the usual suspects” – celebrity faces anxious to be seen – who stood and cheered on opening night, but the public of all ages, youngsters studying dance; older couples trying to master Tango at social dance studios; lovers of colour and spectacle and excellence. German Cornejo’s Buenos Aries dance company is superb, full of the fire of the title, with individuals bringing their own specialties to the choreography. These are five couples - they know and respond to the bodies of their partners and the result, while not overtly sexual, is always sensual and seductive. The music is spectacularly managed by the brilliant Quarteto Fuego, where each of the four musicians is exceptional in their own right. (Why do they not have a CD available? Many of the audience, including myself, would have bought it.)
There are songs too, sung by the velvet voiced and charming Jesus Hidalgo. But it is the dancing that everyone has come to see.
Those of us who have danced Tango in its most basic form, or even as a joke, can’t imagine the core strength required by the male dancers. Their axis is completely balanced, enabling the female to seem suspended just inches above the ground, weightless. Then there are the lifts – many of which I have never seen before, and some heart-stopping. Add to this the superbly executed Ganchos, Secadas and Tijeras, and you can’t help but be thrilled.
German Cornejo has choreographed the bulk of the dancing and, with his partner Gisela Galeassi, gives us some astonishing pieces, including a Tango Adagio midway through the second act that is breathtaking. But each couple has two numbers in which to show their passion and style - and my personal favourites were Marcos and Louise - they epitomised superb dancing and performance.
Purists might turn up their noses at the Cabaret style of the finale, with its overt applause seeking showmanship, but this is theatre after all. The set and staging is simple but beautiful and the lighting (uncredited) is superb, as is the sound.
For those who think Argentinian Tango is a sport where people try to kick each other and avoid being kicked back, see Tango Fire and realise that it is an art form, exceptionally well executed.
...smart, fast, glamorous show
This is a smart, fast, glamorous show that takes the tango onto the commercial stage and propels it to the edge of the circus ring. It has a terrific band, an appropriately sentimental singer and amazing dancers.
Their speed and attack are dazzling. Those characteristic tiny steps are close to being blurred and the high kicks – most spectacularly backwards – are almost unbelievable. The winding of legs between legs comes and goes so fast you could wonder if you missed it.
The action is so big and bold that you have to think small to catch any subtleties. Yes, that overhead lift is impressive – but how much more exciting is the smooth phrasing that sweeps the gorgeously costumed woman in a curve that starts at her partner's shoulders and flows to the floor.
German Cornejo is the chief choreographer of the five couples in ensemble numbers that are crisply and elegantly staged, and include surprises such as an amusing all-male item.
Mostly, each couple steps out with their own self-choreographed piece built on their specialities. The two strands of performance are smoothly meshed, climbing to an acrobatic finish that brings the audience to their feet.
The band of piano, bandoneon, violin and bass is the dynamic foundation and harmonious link between dancers and audience. Playing music by a variety of composers, they also get several Piazzolla pieces to play as instrumental items, which helps bring the show to its climax.
There are limitations to a program like this. Despite the choreographic invention displayed, there are only a certain number of ways to go. And when it's full-on showbiz like this, the tango's subtle simmering gets left behind, which is a pity. But take Tango Fire as it is offered and it's a very entertaining, invigorating show.
The eternal male/female union set to a popular song and a plunging neckline These Argentinian firebrands, reincarnated as dancers, really mean business. The lights go down, the curtain disappears and there they are. Four musicians on a bare stage back five couples locked in their own utterly self-absorbed clinch giving new meaning to that well used all-in wrestling term. Yet when they move you realise just how serious this tango business is.
Pelvis to pelvis, cheeks glued, her feet in their killer heels flicking between his legs, this is not just dancing, this is the eternal male/female union set to a popular song and a plunging neckline.
“When you Tango,” explains chgeoreographer and lead dancer German “Nico” Cornejo, “you must be off stage partners as well.”
Of course the steps are limited, even supplemented as they are by modern aerial acrobatics and the occasional whiff of contemporary dance, but the utter dedication of these attractive artists is an irresistible and constant delight.
The first act tells us how down to earth and normal Tango is. We see them in the washing-strewn streets in dockland where Tango was born, when idle sailors tried out steps waiting for their girls to finish with their previous clients.
The Tango Fire men fool around a bit, revealing not only their sense of humour but their vigorous and stylish moves. The action slowly segues into a nightclub, lit in bitter orange and teeth tingling lime, and the couples celebrate a good time. Cornejo and his partner, Gisela Galeassi with the delicate arrogance of an Audrey Hepburn, win applause with their show-off lifts. But it is their emotional togetherness that thrills me.
With a slight frown he uses his strength to support her elongated movements, they move as one in high speed sequences. Their bodies twist and legs fly but all profoundly synchronised and somehow moving together as a single unit. Breathtaking.
Act II opens with La Cumparsita, lively and very, very sensual. It is show off time and the dancers are earnest, eager to please and physically superb. They deliver a hugely diverse show as funny as it is disciplined and spectacularly attractive.
Tango Fire smoulders on at the Peacock Theatre until St Valentine’s Day so if you fancy a bit of “a vertical expression of a horizontal desire,” as George Bernard Shaw said, you know where to get it.
February 8, 2015
Written by Jeffery Taylor
Tango Fire - Flames of Desire - Sadler's Wells
Images of conflagration are often suggested in the title of theatrical dance shows, such as Burn The Floor or Blaze, and this production goes for the extra double-warmth-whammy in both the title of the company and the show. It’s a slightly off-target metaphor since I don’t so much see fire or flames; rather the sultry, steamy, smouldering heat of Buenos Aires, captured in dancing that (as George Bernard Shaw once said) ‘is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire’!
This slick, well-honed show is sold on tango as a popular and once-again fashionable dance form but, for me at least, it was the generous apportionment of time to the excellent onstage band and suave singer (Jesus Hidalgo) that made the evening extra special. Hidalgo accentuated the sentimentality of the show’s vintage flavour with a smooth singing style delivered with well-groomed savoir faire: his rendition of Vuelvo al Sur, a song with emotional significance to many Latin Americans, was sublime. The four young musicians (playing double bass, violin, piano and bandoneon), known collectively as Quarteto Fuego (yet another reference to fire), were excellent, whether interpreting traditional or more modern tangos.
Five pairs of dancers are led by the show’s leading choreographer – the 2005 world champion of tango – German Cornejo, who made all the group dances, whereas each of the five couples made their own duets. Cornejo partnered another world champion, Gisela Galeassi (she had won the title with another partner in 2003) and they make an extraordinarily handsome and acrobatic couple. Their two featured classical tangos – A Los Amigos in the first act and the breathtaking Susu towards the end of part 2 – were highlights from more than a dozen slick, rhythmic sensual dances, their work especially embellished by high lifts, fast turns, throws and whipping legs.
Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre had wowed the audience as an hors d’oeuvre to Cornejo and Galeassi, with two tangos featuring a whirlwind of feet being thrown up in fast flourishes; legs being wrapped around the partner’s torso or hooked between their knees. The precision positioning of these whipped legs would be hard to achieve if the partner is stationary but with dancers moving like gazelles tripping gaily across the savannah, it must be like trying to thread a needle while sitting on the back of a roaring motorbike, again and again. It is an absurd allusion in many ways but I often find myself thinking that tango is like Irish dancing in hold. Avoiding painful kicks is part of the fascination! The group dancing, notably in the opening formality of a tango foxtrot and in the freer style of the closing cabaret, was uniformly tight and exciting.
The set designs were basic and often incongruous, especially when two lines of washing are lowered for a couple of dances and then raised again. There must be a South American rationale for this, perhaps related to the idea of an outside Milonga (a place or event where tango is danced), but it wasn’t obvious to the non-Latin eye. The frequent costume changes created variety and a continuing theme of elegance. This is a show that is especially easy on the eye and with 28 numbers (seven group dances and eleven partnered duets punctuated by eight songs and instrumental numbers) it is generously packed and very well-paced.
At the end of each number, an elderly gentleman seated directly behind me turned to his also elderly companion and said, loudly: “Can you do that”? I couldn’t hear her murmured replies but I doubt there are many soles on the planet that could have done that! This spectacular show is so consistently entertaining; I plan to get burnt again before it travels on to the next stop (Tokyo, in March).
Reviewed by Graham Watts - Friday 30 January 2015
Performance reviewed: 27 January 2015
Tango Fire: Flames of Desire at the Peacock
Wednesday 28th January 2015
There is little in life that’s more perfect than a dancer’s back. The tone, flexibility and pure strength of it are testament to years of hard work. The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires are a troop of dancers so beautiful that you may well leave with scorched eyeballs.
The show was broken up into dance numbers, songs where the band Quarteto Fuego could shine alone, and several from soloist Jesus Hidalgo. The audience will hear the passionate sounds of the traditional tango in their heads for the rest of the week.
Costumes were sexy, sophisticated and enhanced the dancers’ forms impeccably. There was one slightly questionable bodysuit that had the unfortunate luck of looking like army camouflage from the dress circle. This particular dance duo were so technically superb, though, that the catsuit did not distract for long.
The sexiest couple of the night was dancer Gisela Galeassi paired with choreographerGerman Cornejo. The former lost two heavy-looking diamond earrings in spectacular fashion during some athletic turns. Some fatalities are expected when one is being thrown around like a lascivious ragdoll; better it be the earrings than someone’s skull.
The staging was very basic, and though this must have been so as not to detract from the dancing, it felt slightly lacking in effort aesthetically. Although some routines were messier than others, these small errors will surely be ironed out after opening night. The audience was visibly enjoying the show, their gasps audible throughout the theatre at some of the more perilous moves.
The second act sizzled even more than the first; the traditional red costumes of the tango reserved for the crowd-pleasing final numbers. A truly enjoyable show with a finale that’s worth the wait.
Tango Fire, Peacock Theatre, London
The Argentine dance troupe present an irresistibly brazen and deliciously sophisticated display
You wouldn’t dare call a book, film or performance Flames of Desire and not be laughed from here to Deadhorse, north Alaska, but the presenters of this indomitably enjoyable display of the Argentine tango have the nerve — and the splendid dancers — to do so and win.
It is, for aficionados, the mixture as before at the Peacock Theatre. Five couples. A spiffing quartet of piano, double bass, bandoneon, violin. And truly spiffing: Quarteto Fuego do most handsomely by everything from ballads to Piazzolla. There is also a male singer much given to deepest emotion. Add basic lighting, chairs, gauze, vestigial laundry — and rather cussed frockery at the most dramatic moments. The women of the troupe really must get together with a serious costumier: their present dressmaker has an uncanny eye for the obvious and the less than flattering to their elegant persons.
It is, in fact, all very predictable, but irresistible, because — until the tedious gymnastics in the later sections of the programme supervene — we see the tango as dance, as erotic game, as display both brazen and deliciously sophisticated. We see it as national identity and national cliché. But we also splendidly see it as social and sexual language, and the five couples and their superb musicians do very handsomely indeed by it.
I deplore the later partnerings in which German Cornejo — both choreographer and splendid dancer — proposes the tango as catchpenny acrobatics. But the larger matter of the staging is the elegance of means, the witty sexual signalling, the delicious bravura of the women and their partners’ responsive strength, which make the tango irresistible in the theatre as in the dance halls of its native heath.
I love the scissoring and beautiful legs, the men’s posturing machismo and the women’s infinitely shallow responses to their partners’ strutting — which is the entire paraphernalia of the tango manner. And the teasing rhythms and the unexpected cadenzas of melody and rhythm on which this dance-style rests.
Hurrah for Tango Fire.
review: Clement Crisp
28 January 2015
The Winter Garden Theater, Toronto★★★★★
When German Cornejo told me that every single time Tango Fire performed, audiences leapt to their feet to give the ensemble a standing ovation, that little voice in my head said, “Ah, German, I fear you are about to be disappointed.” Let me explain. Toronto audiences are very polite. When we like a performance, we clap enthusiastically. But the idea of us, nice polite Canadians, leaping to our feet just runs counter to common sense. That requires something like blood and passion. And we're a bit too far north for that stuff. My little voice has now, officially, shut up. Five minutes into Tango Fire's spellbinding performance, the audience was gasping collectively in awe and delight. By the final bars of this afternoon's performance, all semblance of polite Canadian applause dissolved in a roar as a full house leapt to its feet, clapping, stamping, screaming, and wolf whistling for more. And at the end of the encore, we did it again!
The reason is simple. Whether you know tango or not, the phenomenon that took the stage today was sheer excellence in performance. It was the kind of raw magnificence that reminds us that once upon a time we must all have known, without doubt, when a bard or a temple dancer, or a lutenist, had turned a phrase and brought artistry to another dimension. Not only does Tango Fire reinvent the time worn traditions of the tango show; it reminds us that performers at the apex of their skill can bring an audience to its feet.
The tropes of the tango show rarely change and they were all here--the sets that invoke the bordels; the numbers with the boys (with the usual set pieces of intensely acrobatic “hat fights”); the numbers with the girls (which involve lots of leg, and slapped bottoms); the passionate duet between the stable boy and the city girl. Yes, we've seen it all over and over again, but Tango Fire proves that you can see it all yet again...and be entranced.
In Act 1, Cornejo deftly takes us through the Golden Age of tango, with old favorites like Quejas de Bandoneon and La Trampera, the latter performed by the male dancers of the corps with an atheleticism and precision that would make the artists of the Canadian National Ballet weep. Minimalist sets, moved onstage and manipulated by the dancers, brought back the feeling of low income tenements in turn-of-the-century Buenos Aires--a teeming street life with Gauchos, rural farm boys, vying among themselves for the attentions of the dance hall girls. The music shifts subtly from the sound and phrase of the 1940s, moving swiftly forward to more contemporary arrangements of old favorites like A Los Amigos, performed as a passionate duet by Cornejo and the incomparable Gisela Galeassi. Act 1 ends with the tango Canaro en Paris, a piece where the sound and sentiment of tango shifts, where the gaze becomes international, and the phrase tips its hat to Paris as it embraces the dissonances of the new world.
Act II brings us resolutely into the new face and sound of tango with works predominantly by Astor Piazzolla and his contemporaries. Contemporary arrangements of tangos are complemented by duets choreographed by the dancers under the direction of Cornejo. The effect is incredibly fresh as each couple brings a completely new idiom to each performance. One of the highlights of the second Act is the puckish Jesus Hidalgo, whose voice sounds uncannily like a young Carlos Gardel. Hidalgo creates magic when he sings Piazzolla's Vuelvo al Sur accompanied by a solo danced by Gisela Galeassi. Here, the two artists, separated by their very art, sing and dance their passion for the South through an endless longing that cannot be bridged--the dancer cannot sing, the singer cannot dance. The effect was spellbinding and tragic and demonstrated the kind of subtletly of vision that makes this show unlike any other of its genre.
What makes this show electric is the heady drive of youth. The average age of the performers onstage could not have been beyond 25. Their awe inspiring athleticism demonstrates a collective excellence in technique and an almost manic willingness to boldly go where no man (or woman) has gone before. It is quite something when a sold out theater gasps in concert; it is even more rousing when the entire hall goes wild with applause stamping in tandem to demand an encore, as they would in Moscow. But this was the kind of frenzy that Tango Fire inspired in Toronto this afternoon. And I have no doubt that this show will rouse audiences around the world as it brings its own brand of fire to the stage.
Reviewed by Aparna Halpé
12 November 2013
Sadlers Wells Peacock Theatre
Tango Fire in Flames of Desire
In recent years tango, and in particular Argentine tango, has grown remarkably in terms of its presence in mainstream British popular culture. It is featured on prime time television and there are classes on offer aplenty.
But what is on offer here in Britain is but a shadow of the real deal coming straight from its source, such as that now being presented by Tango Fire of Buenos Aires. Flames of Desire, the company’s second production to visit the UK and now showing at Sadler’s Wells’ Peacock Theatre, is in another league altogether. For the average viewer in the northern hemisphere it raises the proverbial bar to stratospheric heights and is a wake-up call for what we should be aiming at.
Over the course of Tango Fire’s intense two hours one sees a company draw to perfection this sensual dance form that is both so technically precise and yet so palpitatingly visceral. Ever seductive and sultry, this company of exceptional dancers, a good number of whom are world tango champions, show legs that slice through the air with the accuracy of a samurai’s sword and execute a velocity of steps like cascading gems. Who could forget show choreographer German Cornejo and his partner Gisela Galeassi in their tango classic, A Los Amigos, whipping up an intoxicating cocktail of passionate sensuality with legs flying too fast for the eye to follow and electrifying spins delivered with such laser-sharp precision on timing and accuracy, the viewer can scarce draw breath.
But Flames of Desire is more than just a physical delight; it takes its audience on an intellectual journey through the history of tango from its roots in Buenos Aires before illustrating its rise on the global stage to become a much-feted contemporary dance style. If there can be such a thing as an academic study and a heady, sensual experience wrapped up in one, this is it.
It is near impossible to single out artists in this production as each couple, without exception, is not only so technically sound, but brings so much personality and colour to the proceedings. However, particularly enticing were dancers Marcus Esteban Roberts and Louise Junqueira Malucelli in their tango classico Gallo Ciego, so exquisitely costumed and moving like quicksilver; so desirable to watch yet so impossible to hold onto. And exhibiting a command of some complex lifts and vertiginous drops were Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli, who brought us arrestingly up to date with their tango moderno, Libertango, towards the programme’s close.
Not to be overlooked and worthy of some considerable recognition also were those accompanying the dancers, namely, singer Jesus Hidalgo and the Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires ensemble Quarteto Fuego. They were, in essence, the very life-blood of the evening, creating and sustaining that hot, heady atmosphere essential to the power of the dance. The raw sophistication inherent in Argentine tango would be but a faint suggestion without it.
Review by Louise Foister
Thursday, February 7, 2013
The Seriously Adept Dance Troupe Do What They Do With Most Eager Abandon And Dizzying, Slashing Legs And Feet
“A vertical rape”, Jorge Luis Borges said of the tango. That was just a whisper exaggerated, I would suggest, but certainly the attitudes of a tango couple is of sexual electricity – although not, perhaps, of very high voltage. For all that the troupe is Argentina’s Tango Fire, and that the show is entitled Flames of Passion, the erotic charge is more acrobatic than lustful. Indeed, the event indulges in so much Apache-dance manipulation of the women that the plea of a headache is probably welcome.
The evening’s components are absolutely basic: five couples, a few tables and chairs, good lighting, gents’ natty suitings and brilliantine, somewhat over-the-top frockery for the women (sequinned embroidery is dangerous, no matter where it finds itself – but especially on the lower back) and a superb quartet (bandoneon, piano, double bass, violin) of untiring virtuosity. Et voilà tout! There is also a singer, riven by emotion, pouring his heart out to us more than generously, and wearing the last pair of co-respondent shoes in captivity.
It is all such great fun, because the tango itself is so fascinating, so seemingly adaptable, so encouraging of sinuous or blazing dance and music. There are sublime Piazzolla tangos on offer, sensational in wit and drama and fascinating sonorities, given with no less fascinating artistry by the musicians.
The cast do what they do with most eager abandon and dizzying, slashing legs and feet. The five couples are gifted, seriously adept, and beguilingly able to involve themselves in the arbitrary confrontations, the sexually charged poses and lightning-flash dramas of the tango.
I note that acrobatics seem increasingly to be a part of the language of the troupe, with bodies (female, of course) raised in the air as trophies, tossed and spun on a factitious tide of passion and generally given the heave-ho. I find this – curiously, in view of the tango’s history of not-unwitty sexual stereotyping – an act of supererogation.
FINANCIAL TIMES By Clement Crisp
February 1, 2013
The Tango Fire Dancers From Argentina Are Back, For A Night Of Sensual And Sophisticated Tango
You can’t dance tangos in Uggs and a denim skirt any more than you can play Odette/Odile in a track suit. The high heels and slit-satin wiggle dresses are dictated by the choreography, but they also establish the all-important atmosphere of sexual exchange in which French-pleated belles with Barbie-doll bodies submit to well-tailored men – even as they dominate them.
The five couples of "Tango Fire" offer a string of party pieces, each more outrageously acrobatic than the last. Melody Celatti and Gonzalo Cuello (one-time disciple of the immortal Miguel Angel Zotto) conjure exactly the right blend of sensuality and spatial awareness in their Tango Romantico, their lower legs swivelling in and out of ganchos and intrusiones with the speed and certainty of a lace-maker’s bobbins.
Long-term followers of the form may pine for the days when troupes like Tango Argentino and Tango Por Dos would include unfashionably chubby or mature couples in the mix, but there were no complaints from the matinee crowd who greeted the throws and lifts with Strictly-style squeals of delight.
Constant changes of dress were covered by songs from the engaging Jesus Hidalgo and brilliantly improvisatory renditions of Piazzolla standards (like Adiós Nonino and Otoño Porteño) from the excellent young Quarteto Fuego.
THE TELEGRAPH By Louise Levene
13 Feb 2013
Tango Fire doesn't know it's own strength: it's sensual and erotic and authentically Argentinian.
The rather learned programme notes for Tango Fire, originally written in Spanish, insist to us that although the tango is “sensual”, it is “never erotic”. Excuse me, but I think that something may have got lost in translation here. This show, which apparently doesn’t know its own strength, is both sensual and erotic: it is also authentically Argentinian. To those who have only seen tango in either vulgarised or showbiz mode, Tango Fire is a recognition that this is the way it ought to be. No Rudolph Valentino smouldering beneath painted eyebrows, no Carmen-outside-the-cigar-factory skirt flouncing, no Strictly Come Dancing storylines about gauchos and fallen women. Just talent: loads of it.
It is the apparent casualness of the dancers that compels most of all. Can anybody not born in Buenos Aires, not steeped in these displays of manliness and femininity, ever do more than imitate what these five couples achieve with such naturalness? The combination of nonchalant, shrugging demeanour and lightning technique is irresistible, particularly in the first half of the show, set in a sketched approximation of a dance hall. The magnificent four-piece band, Quatrotango, plays in front of a blood-red curtain. The performers slink on and offstage, seemingly in their own time, find each other and dance, just as they would in a tango club.
The group routines, which are a triumph, are choreographed by Yanina Fajar. Each of the five couples has a showcase in the second half, and it is fascinating to see how they mould tango to their own skills.
Like ballet, tango has rituals that demand respect even as they are being pushed against; otherwise the form becomes diluted, traduced, simply not as good. One of the Tango Fire couples – German Cornejo and Carolina Giannini – does staggering things with their gymnastic flexibility, and their performance is certainly the most pyrotechnic of the second half. Yet I confess to preferring the earthy slow-burn of Fajar and her partner Mariano Balois, who can make the mere touch of two foreheads seem like the most erotic and sensual dance move you ever saw.
By Laura Thompson
26 Apr 2011
Tango Fire, Peacock Theatre, London
SCINTILLATING STEPS SET THE STAGE ALIGHT
Tango shows often promise the history of tango, which tends to mean cheesy brothel scenes, gangsters and waifs getting off the boat in Buenos Aires. In their latest show, Flames of Desire, Tango Fire just dance, which is drama enough. Feet flick with cutting precision; dancers lean into the embrace, going from flirtation to abandon. The format is simple. Five couples dance group numbers and duets. The music is performed live by the splendid quartet Quatrotango, sometimes joined by the soft-voiced singer Jesus Hidalgo. In the first half, the tangos are traditional, with 1940s styling in the hair and costumes. After the interval, we see more acrobatic tango showdances. Both are spectacular.
The five couples choreograph their own duets, showing off their distinctive styles. Yanina Fajar and her partner, Mariano Balois, make wonderful use of their hips: swung and tilted, with bold angles through the opened thigh. It gives their dancing a fierce, syncopated edge. They're perhaps the least gymnastic of these couples, and often the most exciting, with mercurial emotion in those knife-sharp steps.
German Cornejo sweeps the lightly built Carolina Giannini through spectacular lifts. He swings her to the floor and back again, horizontal and upright in a split second. One duet seemed to come to a demure finish – and then, on the last note, she leapt into his arms, legs scissoring on the last note of music.
Juan Malizia and Florencia Roldan have a flirty way with their acrobatics. Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli have adagio act nimbleness; he swings her round his hips and shoulders like a Hula Hoop.
José Fernandez and Melody Celatti have particularly fine aerial steps, feet flicking from a raised knee, intricate and astonishingly fast. Their connection is so good that they can keep up a steady glide, regardless of whether Celatti's feet are on the floor: the flow never stops.
Reviewed by Zoë Anderson
Tuesday, 19 April 2011
STAGE REVIEW: TANGO FIRE: FLAMES OF DESIRE
THE title is a dead giveaway. This is a dance entertainment specifically designed to increase the serotonin levels of the audience.
It is targeted at parts of the body that normal dance shows fail to reach.
Tango purists may scoff at the rule-bending moves and turbo-charged athleticism of the 10 dancers in Yanina Fajar’s company but there is no denying their technical prowess and virtuoso technique.
Backed by the sublime quartet of pianist Gabriel Clenar’s group, Quatrotango, this is a dazzling display of lightning fast moves and erotically charged role-play that conjures up the midnight mood of downtown Buenos Aires.
Set within the confines of a club draped in bordello-red, the playful opening allows the dancers to create a rapport with the audience as well as each other.
The air is heady with testosterone and pheromones as a mock fight breaks out between jealous rivals in the manner of dirty dancing discos the world over.
However things soon settle down to the business of dancing and a series of duo and group tangos and milongas (an early version of the tango) follow in rapid succession, each displaying the particular skills of the five couples.
There is the Betty Grable lookalike Melody Celatti, sinuous and slick with partner Jose Fernandez: the long-legged, high-kicking acrobatic redhead Victoria Saudelli and her long-haired lover Sebastian Alvarez, and the extraordinary Carolina Giannini, whose diminutive stature and Sarah Jessica Parker looks belie a vision-blurring speed of flickering movement with partner German Cornejo.
The velvet-voiced Jesus Hidalgo replaces old-time crooner Pablo Lago for the between-dance songs though it is clear that the audience warms to him less than the dancers.
However if the first half seems accelerated, the second half is fuelled by nitroglycerine.
Fajar has sharpened and streamlined the choreography, improving the pace since their last visit to Britain two years ago and introduces a tango ballet crossover, Oblivion, which seamlessly combines its disparate elements into a pleasing aesthetic whole.
From then on it’s a roller-coaster ride as Florencia Roldan enters in a see-through lace catsuit and the couples attempt to outperform each other with catherine wheel overhead spins, one-armed lifts and death-defying rolling catches.
It’s a hot night. And I mean red hot.
Daily Express London
Wednesday April 20,2011
By Neil Norman
Tango Inferno At The Joyce Theater New York
It was actually a little nerve-wracking. I had been lured to the Joyce Theater not only by the promise of a tango performance by bona fide Buenos Aireans, but by the promise of a pre-show Milonga where people could dance on stage before the show. Sitting in the audience, however, we all looked at the empty stage, heard the music, and wondered: who would break the ice, be first to go up, and dance before the scrutiny of everyone else?
An invitation to dance came over the speakers, giving enough reassurance that a small cadre filtered down to the front of the house and ascended the steps to the stage.
I spotted a tango acqaintance in the crowd and soon found myself onstage, too. While dancing, we became aware of the cast, barely visible in the shadowy wings, warming up and looking elegant in their finery. I had just gotten over the feeling that the audience might be judging my dancing, but upon discovering these professionals nearby, a fresh wave of self-consciousness washed over me. Imagine the shock when the cast walked out and began pairing off with us civilians.
Getting to dance with these performers was a rare treat. I moved with care, not wanting to be some clod who injured one of the dancers right before show time. I managed to lead the lovely Melody Celatti around the now decidedly more crowded stage without bumping into anyone. Women of this calibre ably ornament their footwork and I quickly learned to allow enough time for those embellishments before moving on to the next step. After negotiating a single dance with her, it seemed prudent to return to my seat!
Tango Inferno has numerous high-quality elements that make it an enjoyable show – obviously the cast is foremost. This group of young, good-looking milongueros is a team; the troupe doesn’t have a star couple pulling focus – they’re evenly matched, a true ensemble. Another key element is Quatrotango, a quartet of musicians spanning the upstage area: Gabriel Clenar on Piano, Marcelo Rebuffi on Violin, Hugo Satorre on Bandoneon, and Gerardo Scaglione on Double Bass. My favourite was their rendition of Adios Nonino in the second act, which is filled with lush crescendos and achingly drawn-out phases fraught with emotion. Then there is the singer, Jesus Hidalgo, who seems like he was snatched up by a time machine from tango’s golden era and deposited in the here-and-now to remind everyone what class truly is. Some tango singers I have heard are a bit overwrought, but Hidalgo’s singing, and indeed, his entire presence, is tasteful – he’s passionate but with a restraint that never goes out of style. His first number, after a rousing dance by the entire company, is El dia que me quieras, which he sings while softly strumming a guitar and strolling across the stage with the gorgeous Carolina Giannini. She walks next to him, her hands draped lightly on his arm, as he serenades her. The scene is romantic, gently seductive, a nice change of pace after the exciting opening – the entire show is like this, an ever-shifting variety of moods and tempi.
The costuming is also superb. The women’s simple black skirts are topped by black corsets held together with criss-cross laces up each side – though not pulled so tightly that one can’t glimpse some skin. Later, they change into brightly coloured dresses while the men change from black suits into lighter tomes, sometimes dancing in waistcoats and shirtsleeves, which also looks dashing. Act One ends with the women back in black but with sparkly, emerald green bodices. These vivid colours are matched with lighting designs by Megafun. In one memorable scene, side lights pick up ripples of red fabric in the backdrop as rich blue gels highlight smoke hanging in the air. A mottled pattern is cast on the floor, while a few small café tables, sprinkled around the periphery of the stage, are lit by small lamps. It feels like an intimate tango salon and, in the midst of this ambience, some extraordinary dancing happens.
When the cast does unison work, as in La Cumpasita which opens the second act, they are in as sharp a unison as a Russian ballet corps. The duets range from flashy acrobatics to smoking duets, like Jose Fernandez & Celatti in Recuerdo, where the demonstrate the truth of ‘less is more’ by fusing subtle steps with intense emotion.
Yanina Fajar choreographed the group pieces with the exception of two which were co-choreographed with German Cornejo: Canaro en Paris and the fabulous Obilivion, which opens with two men and a woman in a smoldering threesome. Also noteworthy were Cornejo and Giannini in Susu with its slow, sensual opening. She’s in a backless dress, facing upstage; the lights pick up the curves of her bare shoulders and spine. Across the small of her back is Cornejo’s bare forearm, wrapped tightly, pulling her close. The dance picks up speed and she’s lifted, her legs flipping fast and tight like a breakdancer dong swipes.
The stenght of the show lies in these kinds of juxtaposition – the sexy moments versus the virtuoso steps; the mix of slow and fast; dances interspersed with musical numbers. The dancings great, the music’s great, and the shows balance satisfies tango veterans and neophytes alike. As if that’s not enough, there’s the chance to dance with these stars in the Milonga beforehand. If you like tango, don’t miss the Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires, and remember to bring your dancing shoes
DANCE EUROPE REVIEW
By Tim Martin
'Tango Inferno' heats up the Byham stage
City - Pittsburgh
The word tango brings to mind the sultry, smoldering rhythms of Argentina. The intimate embrace of a couple. Legs intertwined, quick footwork, dramatic dips. Perhaps even a dark and mysterious club where partners move across a crowded dance floor, gazing intently into one another’s eyes.
Tango Fire, a dance company originated in Buenos Aires in 2005, sizzled on the Byham Theater stage Saturday night, rousing the packed audience right out of their seats for an encore to the two hour show.
The first half transformed the stage into a “milonga,” a place where the tango is danced. Quatrotango, the live touring band consisting of bandoneon, double bass, violin and piano, played in front of a bold red curtain. Two top tables stood on either side of the “dance floor.” Pendant lights hung low from the ceiling. Ten dancers entered the scene at random, eventually forming couples.
The women began in black corseted tops, black skirts with high slits up the front of their lean thighs, strappy high heels and sparkling jewelry. Humor infused the choreography, as women dueled for the men and a few bar brawls broke out. The performers expressed their emotion through precise and incredibly swift movement of their feet, but also laughed, taunted and conversed openly as part of the act.
In one group scene, the exquisite (and incredibly elastic) Carolina Giannini, nearly kicked her fellow dancers while being scooped off her feet in various lifts at lightning speed. The scene concluded with a sassy duet where Giannini somehow ended up between the legs of her partner - this, after a sequence of lifts akin to a wind storm.
The second half stripped away the club scene and theatrics, and focused on the pure prowess of the dancers’ technique. Infusing classical tango with jazz and contemporary vocabulary, each couple had their moment to shine.
The women let their hair down, literally and figuratively, while the men demanded attention with their strength and support. Although the aim of the dance is to flaunt the artistry of the female, one couldn’t help but admire the power, laced with true machismo, of their male partners.
Lighting on the scrim changed from bright blues to passionate purples. Costumes became more elegant, with sequins, rhinestones and velvet. In between duets, the band and its singer - the dimpled and adorable Jesus Hidalgo - lit up the space with breathtaking sounds of famed composer Astor Piazzolla.
Each dance seemed to crescendo. Passion, pride and death-defying speed brought the footwork off the ground and into the air. The audience roared with excitement as the show climaxed to a feverish end.
13 February 2011
Tango Fire – Albany NY, 5 February 2011
Who knew tango traveled so well? From the dance hall to the proscenium stage, from sassy to sexy, from Buenos Aires to Korea (home of some of its most ardent fans), tango has far more range than we give it credit for.
The Argentinean company Tango Fire is among the form’s most celebrated ambassadors. With five pairs of dancers, a singer (Jesus Hidalgo) and a live four-piece band (violin, piano, double bass and bandoneon), the troupe brought its new show, “Tango Inferno,” to the Egg Friday evening.
The first half of the program focuses on tango as it might be danced at a milonga, or social dance (if everyone in the dance hall happened to be gorgeous and talented); the second half presents tango as a series of dramatic showpieces. While the shift in mood is clear, the variation in the movement itself is more subtle.
What holds steady is the form’s absolute and total elegance. The couples glide effortlessly across the floor, making half-turns in each other’s embrace. The level of action from the knee down rivals “Riverdance,” with the dancers’ legs kicking before them and fluttering behind them, hips and heels swiveling as if on well-oiled castors. Defying the stiff, slow-motion stereotype of tango, they whirl and step with surprising speed, never losing an ounce of poise or precision.
The flirtatious, playful tone of the first half (nicely expressed in a saucy duet between Melody Celatti and José Fernández) is replaced in Part Two with more passionate and showier choreography, sharper angles and crystal-clear articulation. A quartet set to composer Eduardo Arolas’ “Derecho Viejo” has two couples (Florencia Roldan and Juan Malizia, Victoria Saudell and Sebastian Alvarez) intersecting in perfect synchronicity, ending with a splash as the women slide into upside-down splits across the men’s laps.
A string of pas de deux showed off the pairs’ individual styles (the dancers create their own duets, while company choreographers and dancers Yanina Fajar and German Cornejo choreograph the ensemble pieces). Roldan and Malizia are powerful and athletic as they twist around each other, while Fajar and Mariano Balois embody a crisp, classical perfection. Saudell and Alvarez approach the flashy with spectacular lifts and flips; Carolina Giannini and Cornejo are no slouchers in the lift-and-spin department, either, but their movement is lush and romantic.
Several works approach contemporary dance in their structure and composition, most notably an ensemble piece set to Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion.” Here the standard arrangement of couples moving in unison breaks up not only into rondo and individual choreography but also into solos, trios and separate groups of men and women. Distinctly tango, distinctly timeless, it also feels very modern.
The Times Union
5 February, 2011 at 12:02 am byTresca Weinstein
By Tresca Weinstein
Special to the Times Union
Flying feet that touch the heart
“Tango Inferno,” the latest production from the Argentine company Tango Fire, chronicles the evolution of the dance.
In “Tango Inferno,” backed by the astonishing band Quatrotango, 10 prize-winning performers demonstrate the evolution of their form — from its origins as a pastime for cowboys and workers in Buenos Aires’ brothels and slums to its current showy, sleek aspect. Choreographer Yanina Fajar and her assistant, German Cornejo, provide group works, bathed in showers of light by Megafun. The various couples, most of which have been dancing together for years, offer their own variations. The women paste their bodies up against the men and dart their sandaled feet between their partners’ legs
The ensemble is young and limber, but respectful of tango tradition. They dramatize the original cafe setting, where men scuffled and women preened, and work their way up to contemporary developments, with virtuoso partnering and lots of air work. Half a dozen costume changes show off the shapely bodies and ornament the rapid-fire footwork. Strolling singer Jesus Hidalgo croons melancholy tunes into a microphone.
The men of Quatrotango, musical directors as well as accompanists, support the troupe with authentic bandoneón-centered tango tunes and offer many welcome instrumental numbers, letting us rest our eyes while the dancers change their clothes. The troupe’s operating metaphor may be fire, but the overall impact is like water, a rain of steps and notes flowing into every corner of our consciousness.
METRO NEW YORK
January 18, 2011 6:30 p.m.
Tango Inferno raises fire within
New York The Joyce Theater - 14th January 2011
If it has been stated, now it is being proved... The Argentines do it better – when it comes to dancing the tango. And just when you think you have seen it all, direct from Buenos Aires comes a fiery group of sizzling dancers accompanied by brilliant musicians to present their show Tango Inferno – The Fire Within, at the Joyce Theatre in New York.
As the spectacle unfolds, the audience is left breathless while performers time travel and project an alluring journey through the history of Tango from its origins in Buenos Aires dance halls, involving early 20th century elements, to its ubiquitous presence on the contemporary entertainment scene.
The sinuous dance is at once sensuous and raw, passionate and intimate as at various stages throughout the spectacle couples leg-flick and perform complex co-ordinated steps, lifts and shifts with impressive precision. In this way the traditional roots come under the limelight but at other times the emphasis falls on the racy intensity of the dance itself so much so that a number of performances are executed on a quasi-bare stage, with silhouetted dancers, at times shadowy, against a backdrop of vibrant lighting.
A dancer with Tango Inferno performing a number called Verano Porteno during a dress rehearsal before the opening night at the Joyce Theatre in New York. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP
The audience is spoilt for choice as performers bring out the different moods and innuendos related to the bewitching dance with their fancy footwork, twirls and swirls.
Though other Tango shows abound, “Tango Fire Company leaves you burning to take up where they left off,” claims The London Paper.
Indeed, the fiery dance of Tango has come a long way since its origins when it caused an outcry against the tight embraces and sexual tension it projects.
It seems the world’s most alluring and exciting dance form has come to stay and today it is even more in fashion than ever before thanks to groups like the Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires which has become a true worldwide phenomenon.
With performances in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe, Asia and South Africa, the company has helped to export the steamy Argentinian concoction!
The Joyce Theater:
Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires
Tuesday, January 11th marks the opening night of the Tango Fire ten-dancer company along with the live music accompaniment of Quatrotango in Tango Inferno.
After a pre-performance milonga (a chance for audience members to dance with members of the company) the hour and forty-five minute performance takes off will all the leg-flicks, sexiness, and elegant, sparkling dresses one would expect! Despite a couple costume malfunctions and “close-call” completions of some very intricate partner work and lifts, the entire performance sustained a fiery energy.
The group numbers (choreographed by Argentinean dancer and choreographer Yanina Fajar, with the exception of Oblivion and Canaro en Paris, which were choreographed by both Fajar and German Cornejo) highlighted everything from the ladies Rockette-like spins into kicks, and humorous male tango-turned-combat choreography.
Oblivion (Piazzolla) in Act II is particularly memorable as it begins with one female dancer sandwiched between the bodies of two men, grabbing at her, pressing into her. Warm, golden lights shining from the side wings create a softness as the other female dancers decidedly walk on to be met by their partner who pulls them close by the waist before letting them arch back.
Musical interludes throughout the dancing present the incredibly talented singer, Jesus Hidalgo, who embodies a powerful stage presence whether serenading the sexual tension between a couple on stage before him, or us out in the audience. The accompanying orchestra, Quatrotango (Gabriel Clenar on Piano, Marcelo Rebuffi on Violin, Hugo Satorre on Bandoneón, and Gerardo Scaglione on Double Bass) was outstanding, receiving well-deserved praise from the audience.
As for the dancers, the animation and smoldering looks on their faces paired seamlessly with the quick flips of the leg and turns released into slow, risqué poses that make the audience hold their breath. The second act presents duets choreographed by each pair, showing off some of their best tango-tricks.
German Cornejo (Assistant Choreographer) and Carolina Giannini stood out in their remarkably elaborate duet, SUSU (Adrover). The subtleties of how he led her down to the angle he turned his face as he gazed passionately at her were just as impressive as the way he was able to lift her so effortlessly that it took a moment, after watching her melt into a pose, to realize he was holding her up with only one arm. Giannini is a beautiful dancer with a poise that screams “sex-goddess” no matter what choreography she’s performing.
Tango Inferno is presented at The Joyce Theater through January 23rd, 2011.
The Examiner, New York
12 January 2011
Tango couples leg-flick switch to sensuous
Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires
State Theatre, Melbourne
TANGO is a word that conjures images of tense sensuality and raw intimacy.
In dance, tango has encompassed diverse variations on this theme, Argentine tango's choreographic elements and general mood having been appropriated by various Western dance traditions, not least ballroom, Broadway and ballet.
The polite, stylised gentility of the tango propagated during Hollywood's golden age was a far cry from the racy intensity found in Buenos Aires salons. Gradually, popular attention has shifted towards its traditional roots.
The music of nuevo tango great Astor Piazzolla has become ubiquitous, while recent decades have seen the rise of tango schools worldwide. In this context, the Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires returns to Australia with their new show.
The first half alludes to traditions of tango de salon, the set a contrived rendition of a dance hall scattered with cafe tables, while costumes recall early 20th-century elements: waistcoats and hats for the gentlemen, ruffles and shimmery satins for the ladies.
The second half moves to contemporary forms of tango fusion, executed on a dramatically bare stage, the dancers shadowy and sometimes silhouetted against a backdrop splashed with single colour lighting. This is show tango, a glitzy display involving multiple couples in co-ordinated routines, all directed towards audience spectacle. The leg flicks, interlocking turns, partner lifts and swift direction shifts of traditional salon tango are all present but the virtuosity is worn on the sleeve rather than concealed behind passionate narratives of couple interplay.
Yet it is the single couple routines that most enthrall and best illustrate tango's expressive capacity. Former world champions Jose Fernandez and Melody Celatti move as one through complex, virtuosic sequences, making synergy rather than technical prowess the focus. German Cornejo and Carolina Giannini provide an entirely different flavour, their turns, lifts and tosses executed as a tense power play of feisty precision, speed and sensuous extension.
Most compelling is the partnership of Juan Milizia and Florencia Roldan, a sustained frisson of desire: slow, silky lines punctuated with caressed technical elements and scintillating torque.
Also impressive was Hugo Satorre, bandoneon player with the backing band, Quatrotango. Satorre's phrasing and dynamics were immensely musical, embodying tango sensibilities.
From: The Australian
August 02, 2010 12:00AM
Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires
WHEN dancing the tango became all the rage on Australian shores in 1913, it prompted an outcry of horrified condemnation: those tight embraces, those flicking legs and flipping skirts, and that - gasp! - sexual tension. But despite the cacophony of wowser protestation, the tangos danced by the youths of the time were positively staid and conservative compared to the smouldering and sultry incarnation of the dance exhibited in The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires performance.
In this celebration of everything tango, we see quick, slicing movements and fast spins punctuated by soaring lifts, dramatic drops, and those obligatory end poses of deep splits and puckered lips. But for all its sexiness, The Tango Fire Company generally manages to avoid being crass or crude. The show is enhanced by Walter Delgado's gorgeous costumes.
Yanina Fajar is both performer and choreographer for most of the group numbers, and though her work is enjoyable it is the second-half duets choreographed by the pairs themselves that stand out as the most dazzling of the evening.
It is hard to sustain a single style - and a partnered style, no less - over a full-length performance. However, the performers manage to draw out the different moods and nuances of the tango, and deliver a spectacular performance.
REVIEWED BY JORDAN BETH VINCENT
August 2, 2010
Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires
Amid plenty of Spanish chatter from the audience, the curtain goes up to reveal cocktail hour in Buenos Aires. Five high-chemistry couples set the stage ablaze in 1950s tuxedos and blush-worthy thigh-high skirt slits. Accompanying them is a live four-piece band and a jovial accordion player who transport you directly to the Paris of the south.
The opening number is a much lighter version of the popular down-and-dirty tango lunges, alive with sprightly jumps and speedy leg flicks. Interspersed throughout each piece are the baritone notes of a Julio Iglesias-style crooner. Whatever he's on about, it does sound oh-so sultry when sung in Spanish.
A tempestuous love story plays out between assistant choreographer German Cornejo and partner Carolina Giannini, with umpteen blink-and-you'll-miss-them flips, leaps and spins. Thankfully, it's free from any of that interdental rose-clenching nonsense. It's hard to believe the twirls could get tighter or the footwork fancier, but the ante is certainly upped right until the entrancing, melancholic ballroom interlude and Cabaret-esque, chair-hopping finale.
This is an elegant production with swift swoops of enviably toned legs and effortless, intricate pas de deux lifts. Muchachos? Come along and learn a thing or two on how to really treat your chica.
6 August 2010
Steamy scenes at the café
Earlier in the week, I thought it was quite enough excitement for one day when I read the headline (in the Philadelphia Daily News) “Twin gay-porn stars arrested in rooftop burglaries”. But I had forgotten that Tango Fire was opening that same Tuesday evening, and I can now report that it has its own particular and peculiar excitements – though without twins. Here is the tango elaborated, galvanised, given a gymnastic makeover, as we recall from the troupe’s previous visit.
A sense of understated virtuosity is at a premium in ‘Tango Fire’
It is, I find, slightly more vehement than heretofore, more inclined to tricks usually associated with skaters in what they sunnily call “ice-dancing” – the rink as gymnasium. The setting is the basic and inoffensive Café Tango. The lovely women’s dresses seem more exiguous than before, and slightly more blatant but in no way more “sexy”; your teenage boy may get ideas. The men are outfitted according to Argentine tailoring (double-breasted, or four-button single, extra ticket-pocketed, is not unusual), brilliantined, brooding, but have largely and unhappily abandoned patent leather shoes for what look like trainers with ideas au dessus de leur gare. And the tango goes through its many permutations, spreading itself abroad with rather won-the-lottery bravado, yet ever confrontational in its eroticism.
The basic verve and the mercurial flash of legs, kicking and slicing, twisting, just missing vital bits of one’s partner, are still wonderfully there. But acrobatic lifts, predictable final poses, some “artistic” moments, are also on display, and seem to weigh down the natural elegance and vivacity of the five gifted couples involved, turning them into apache dancers. The sophistication of means, the sense of understated virtuosity, that we have seen with Tango por dos and Miguel Angel Zotto, is at a premium.
The marvel of the evening is the accompaniment provided by Quatrotango, four virtuosi of piano, bandoneon, violin and cello. In their playing, and it is gloriously varied, grandly assured and superbly inventive in a couple of solos, the tango lives, blazes, tears at the heart with its sentiments and its unfailing rhythmic strength. Must be heard!
March 19 2009
Tango with Extra Fizz
Agility, athleticism and antipathy on stage at Sadler’s Wells
Half an hour with a tango troupe and you find yourself itching to emigrate to their polished pinstriped planet, where every girl has a heel fetish and every man owns a trouser press. Tango Fire returned to London last week with five couples who sizzled smoothly through 27 numbers in a thoroughly enjoyable two-hour show.
Sadler’s Well’s long, steamy love affair with the tango predates the current craze for all things ballroom, but the “Strictly” effect does no harm at the box office, and the Peacock – the Well’s slightly tarty sister theatre in the West End – was packed with wannabes. Several punters spent last Friday night’s interval practising some of the moves, but Tango Fire’s couples specialise in hyper-athletic lifts and throws that should definitely not be tried at home.
Not content with elaborating the standard tango figures, they seemed determined to include as many acrobatic stunts as possible. The audience giggled with delight as dark, handsome men spun women above their brilliantined heads or manhandled them around and across their bodies like conjurors tumbling coins across their knuckles.
It’s all huge fun but the emphasis on youth and agility does become ever so slightly monotonous after an hour or so.
Part of the charm of Claudio Segovia and Hector Orezzoli’s groundbreaking 1985 production Tango Argentino was the way it matched lithe, leggy vamps with portly pinstriped gentlemen, perpetuating the illusion that we were wallflowers at a dance hall rather than clients at a floorshow.
Any variety and spontaneity missing from the hoofers was supplied by the sensational Quatrotango, Gabriel Clener’s hip, young quartet of piano, bandoneon, cello and violin (every one a virtuoso). The foursome hijack once familiar tunes and take them for a crazy, thrill-seeking ride.
Bandoneon virtuoso Hugo Satorre coaxes sound from his machine with the furious concentration of a jazzman deep in his groove. The tempi of standards like La Cumpasita and Astor Piazzolla’s Otono Porteno are so comprehensively broken down they become almost unrecognisable, until Clenar magically allows the melody to pull itself back into shape like the pleats on a bandoneon.
29 MARCH 2009
It may well have recused UK ballroom from the hand-sewn-sequin circuit, but Strictly Come Dancing still smacks, limply, of a gentlemen’s excuse-me. The closest its hoofers get to the red lights of Buenos Aires - birthplace of the tango – is developing snaps of waltzing Rotarians. But, then, the real deal would be wasted on TV. Because it’s not enough to just watch it: your total immersion is critical, something this exquiste Argentine production knows all about. There’s no “history of_” narrative, just 10 dancers, a singer, and a four-piece orchestra who trace the tango from its slum origins to modern shows of near-balletic complexity by simply giving themselves to it. Of course, it all comes down to a man and a woman, virtuoso lovers who have bartered the mechanics of mere sex for a more penetrating intimacy – and Tango Fire leaves you burning to take up where they left off.
The London Paper
19 March 2009
'Tango Fire' at Walt Disney Concert Hall
After-dark prowlers of Buenos Aires know you can find two types of tango shows in that elegantly frayed metropolis. For casual tourists, there are smoothly efficient, slightly kitschy spectacles filled with plenty of slit skirts and slashing stiletto heels.
For the cognoscenti and the local porteños, there are more sophisticated, out-of-the-way venues where you can savor the music and the mildly disreputable ambience as well as the feral intensity of the dancing.
It’s the difference between tango as a melancholic museum piece and tango as a dynamic living art form that continues to evolve, more than a century after its birth in the city’s proletarian dives.
That division roughly characterizes the contrast between the first and second halves of “Tango Fire,” the handsome, ferociously performed touring show that slinked into Walt Disney Concert Hall for one night Sunday.
The first half is predictably set in a mock-up of a late 1940s or ’50s cafe, with couples arrayed around tables trading smoldering glances and breaking into muscular strutting. There’s a lot of distracting melodrama in the staging, with the women seething feigned jealousy and the men engaging in a parody of macho Peronist posturing: pushing one another in the chest, throwing fake punches and so on.
A little of this stylized play-acting goes a long way. More significantly, it detracts from the classy tango and milonga numbers, well served by Yanina Fajar’s rakish, sensual choreography and the debonair crooning of singer Javier “Cardenal” Dominguez, belting out “Mi Buenos Aires Querido” and other Rio de la Plata favorites in his best Carlos Gardel form.
“Tango Fire” really ignites after the intermission, when it drops the back story and turns things over to the performers. Naturally, the main attraction is the 10 sleek, tightly wound dancers, including Fajar and her partner, Nelson Celis. Kick-stepping between each other’s legs, executing perfect over-the-shoulder rolls or vise-gripping each other’s torsos like wrestling anacondas, the attractive couples brought an unusual degree of athleticism as well as panache to their ballroom paces.
Tango generally works best in a tight space, where the barely constrained pulse of the dance always threatens to explode out violently. But this skillful ensemble managed to carve out suitably constricted floor room within the wide Disney stage.
The true highlight of “Tango Fire,” though, as the Disney audience’s applause attested, is the suave, emotionally wrenching playing of its four-man combo: Gustavo Casenave on piano; Hugo Satorre on bandoneón; Marcelo Rebuffi, violin; and Gerardo Scaglione, double bass.
After maintaining a steady but unspectacular presence during the show’s first half, the musicians whipped up a torrent of dark, minor-key passions following the interval. Combining Satorre’s and Rebuffi’s expressively drawn-out solos, Scaglione’s groaning bass and Casenave’s mad sprints up and down the ivories, the quartet’s renditions of several Astor Piazzolla classics, including “Otoño Porteño,” “Fuga y Misterio” and “Adiós Nonino,” drove to the heart of tango’s exquisite tension between euphoria and despair.
LA Times March 2, 2009
'Tango Fire' showcases sensational Argentine dancers
The various tango presentations showing up over the past two decades share a typical approach and format.
Backed by musicians, five or so couples parade before our eyes and deliver striking duets, varied by the occasional comic interlude and large ensemble work.
What saves this predictable recipe from tango-on-ice mediocrity is the consistent talents on display, year after year, tango lineup after lineup. So it proves again with "Tango Fire," a showcase of sensational Argentine dancers and musicians that played the Harris Theater over the weekend. If we're lucky, they'll return.
True, the first act is a little sleepy, more clean and clinical than charged with the sexual tingle and amazing acrobatics tango embraces. Set in a club, it follows a loose, almost imperceptible trip through time, through the 1920s and the present, revealed mainly by the costumes. There's an amusing male ensemble revolving around nightclub fisticuffs, one man twirling elegantly across the floor only to plant a combative knee into another man's backside, for instance.
But the precise, refined dancing in Act 1 hardly prepares you for the fireworks and musical heights of Act 2. Yanina Fajar, the show's director of choreography, approaches tango with a sly, ballet bent. The sleek extensions of the svelte women in the cast are a delight throughout, and, in Act 2, Fajar boosts the ballet component to graft gorgeous lifts, dangerous drops and hints of arabesques to otherwise terrific tango.
My favorite couple was Carolina Giannini and German Cornejo, a steamy partnership buoyed by her quicksilver agility. Enough can't be said for the four-member onstage orchestra, who deliver a couple of rousing musical numbers.
January 26, 2009'
Tango Fire? Tango inferno is more like it. The Buenos Aires-based dance troupe set a five-alarm blaze at the NAC Tuesday night, a conflagration sparked by the spectacular - and spectacularly sexy - pyrotechnics of Argentina's most famous cultural export.
Choreographed by Yanina Fajar and Nelson Celis and performed by 10 dancers and five musicians, Tango Fire takes the audience on a journey though the history of the tango, from the 1920s to today. There is literally never a dull moment. Inventive group dances alternate with exhilarating duets that showcase the different personalities and skills of each of the five couples. The women wear a dazzling assortment of slinky, slit-up-to-there dresses, while their male partners cut elegant figures in suits, fedoras and slicked-back hair.
There are solo numbers for the superb musicians as well: pianist Gabriel Clenar, violinist Marcelo Rebuffi, bass player Gerardo Scaglione and the magnificent Hugo Satorre on the small traditional accordion known as the bandoneon. The quartet also backs the suave vocal stylings of singer Javier "Cardenal" Dominguez on several songs.
The first section is presented as an extended milonga, or informal tango party, taking place at the beaux-arts "Café del Tango". These earlier numbers are lighthearted, playful and flirtatious, rather than dark and smouldering. The foot and legwork is dazzling, with the dancers' limbs whipping around in increasingly complicated patterns. It's as quick as lightening, yet laser-clean and precise, and the dancers make everything look utterly effortless.There's an especially intricate and impressive duet for the petite but explosive Carolina Giannini and her excellent partner, German Conejo, although the statuesque, Hitchcock blonde Ines Cuesta and her husband, Mauricio Celis, were also outstanding. There's also a fun, macho "fight" dance for the five men, who are all exquisite partners to their ladies.
The second half showcases some of the more flamboyant, modern forms of tango, including the so-called "acrobatic" tango, which features gasp-worthy lifts, dips, spins and suicide drops. Cornejo and Giannini were again breathtaking in the second half, as were the nervy, sparkling pairing of Victoria Saudelli and Sebastian Alvarez. The finale, with the five couples pulling out all the stops, surely had everyone in the audience longing to sign up for tango lessons.
Ottowa Citizen 11 Nov 2008
Everything may be beautiful at the ballet, but at Tango Fire, everything is smoldering. The troupe of five male-female couples and the group’s great four man Quatrotango Orchestra is more than tango for export.
In their second appearance in Verizon Hall, this could have been easily a rearranged reprise and in fact, is even more cohesive. But, unlike other cultural dance spectacles, choreographer Yanina Fajar expressing all of the moods of the tango, with authority and style.
The opening "Milonga" club social introduces the dancers’ persona, the men in perfect suits and the women in an array of velvet-satin gowns. The second section ’The Show’ is more theatrical.
Fajar goes deeper with tango variations and gestural acting, shown masterfully in the transitional phrasing. Especially rich are the tangos that extend to two parts, with the chemistry built to its climax, melting into expressive resprises for each duet.
Of course, sprinkled throughout are tango’s signature moves- the backward drag steps, the dramatic lift positions, the freeze poses (abrazo), not to mention those dangerously darting legs and death drops.
Since its beginnings, the tango has been adapted and interpreted to cover the Kinsey’s scale of sexual orientation. The closest we get here is a terrific roughhouse tango by the five men that turns into horseplay when the women reenter.
Two double-tempo sequences by the couples feature razor sharp precision (Those between the legs darting leg jabs are downright dangerous). All of the couples burned the floor in their own way and the audience went particularly wild at the attack and lift patterns of Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli.
Quartotango filled Verizon with two lush sets of tango music, like many of the dance reprises, so liberated in the continuo, leaving the audience in memorable afterglow.
EDGE Philadelphia, PA Nov 7, 2008
Sexy and breathlessly daring
This exhilarating show has nearly got it all. The couples whirl as one at dazzling speeds. Legs entwine and escape in thrilling, agitated action as if they have a life of their own. Bodies bend and sway. Seductively cut costumes for the women project the sensuality of their movements against the sober suits of the men.
Tango Fire has toured Australia before, but this is their best show yet. The skills and character of the 10 dancers, the singer Pablo Lago and the wonderful band Quatrotango, are cleverly moulded into a very entertaining program of dance.
The first half is set in a cafe, where the tango got its start in bohemian circumstances as a social dance in Argentina. The performers sit at tables, make "conversation" as freshly as if they weren't doing it nightly on tour for months at a time, and come and go on the dance floor - with carefully timed costume changes for each new number.
The tango and its close relative, the milonga, inspire a range of dances. The traditional intimacy of two close-knit bodies combined as a unit is contrasted with breakaway sequences in which two dancers still work as one, but just a heartbeat away - fabulous to watch and very sexy.
There is rarely a solo - a brief, buoyant moment sticks in my mind from one of my favourite dancers, Mauricio Celis, as a song gets under way - but a handful of dynamic ensembles break the duet pattern.
The simulated fight for the men is amusing and well done, yet it is even more exciting to see five couples negotiate the space and each other at speed, stretching or narrowing their steps as required in perfect harmony.
After the interval the performers do their party pieces, which build to a spectacular climax in acrobatic partnerships from German Cornejo and Carolina Giannini, and Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli. Both couples are heart-in-mouth daring in how they have developed the tango, though my favourite couple is the traditional Nelson Celis and Yanina Fajar. Yet, for me there was one thing missing: the darker side of longing in this bittersweet dance style. It can be heard in the music, but Tango Fire is visually so upbeat that it misses out in the dance. But that is not much of a complaint, is it?
The Sydney Morning Herard July 3, 2008
Sensuality, power and desire, but the thigh's the limit
THE tango began in the backstreets and brothels of Buenos Aires. Like the flamenco in Spain, it grew in popularity as a national dance the more Argentina was dominated by outside influences.
Tango Fire opened in a smoky replica of a dance hall, with band, singer, and five black-haired men cruising and appraising the women, offering invitations to dance with a discreet raise of the eyebrow to avoid humiliation should they be refused.
This peacock display was wonderfully executed, with an almost identical straightening of tie, adjustment of cuffs, a slide of hand over oiled hair, and a cocky smirk.
It was rather like looking at a boxed set of Antonio Banderases. The routines were dazzling. If flamenco is mostly about the feet, then tango is all about the lower leg.
With torsos aligned, the lower legs twirled with a life of their own, and snapped with a knee-jerk kick backwards and forwards through the half opened legs of their - obviously trusting - partners. The leg was also employed to curl like a velvet vice along the man's taut spine.
The second half, on a bare set except for the band, contained more of the sensual moves you expect from the tango, the kind you get arrested for. Those poised initial movements slid, as they do, into desire-filled horizontal clinches, which could but end in the man's agonised face being laid upon his partners stomach, and his wide-fingered hand being slid along her long thigh. That's the tango for you: beats a night in watching television any day.The 10 dancers were impressively skilled, and visually stunning, the women's dresses slit to the thigh and glowing with colour and jewelled embellishment. It was inspiring to watch the power displayed as those strong women were tossed arrogantly up and over the head, hurled downwards, and nonchalantly aided to glide mercury-like across the floor. To add to all that was the virtuosity of the band, Quatrotango, made up of violin (Marcelo Rebuffi), bandoneon (Hugo Satorre), piano (Gabriel Clenar) and double bass (Gerardo Scaglione). Their soulful, minor-keyed music was painfully beautiful and conjured visions of an ardent Argentina.
The Australian June 23, 2008
Tango company is on ‘Fire’ at Cutler Majestic Theatre
Tango Fire has been promoted as Buenos Aires’ “most acclaimed tango company,” which seems like hyperbole - but these glamorous men and women are the finest tango artists I’ve ever seen. I’ve followed the scene closely since the beginning of the American tango craze in the early 1980s, and “Tango Fire,” which opened Friday night at Cutler Majestic Theatre, represents significant advances in sophistication and contemporary interpretation. Audiences adore tango because it is simultaneously rhythmic, technical and erotic. It is also a style that seems to absorb all of the space around it; one traveling couple is all that is needed to illuminate the largest of stages. Like the successful Broadway revue “Tango Argentino,” “Tango Fire” attempts to survey the history of tango, but without resorting to chronology. The first part offers a series of intimate duets and ensemble dances focused on “Milonga,” a countryside dance from the early 19th century that originated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as a popular song style in duple meter. Singer Javier Di Ciriaco, with his matinee-idol good looks, offered soaring vocals in the passionate melodies of “Grisel” and “Ventarron.” It made perfect sense, since the entire first half is set in the imaginary “Caf del Tango,” complete with tiny tables and lamps. Along with the blazing duets, there is even a staged fight for five men that transforms into a rousing unison dance. Part two segues into modern tango, epitomized by the wide-ranging compositions of the late Astor Piazzolla, and features extreme, daring lifts and aggressive choreography. Pablo Sosa and Mariela Maldonado in a handsome rendition of Piazzolla’s classic “Libertango” provided the artistic arc of the show.
Boston Herald, Jan 13 2008
‘Tango Fire’ blazes with danger and exuberance
Rarely has the tempestuous tango looked like so much exuberant, out-and-out fun as in “Tango Fire”. This is tango with a big smile and boisterous high jinks performed by 10 exquisitely skilled dancers with spirit and charisma to match. All in their 20’s and 30’s, they are uniformly gorgeous. The women are lithe with deeply arched backs and finely sculpted legs that slice like machetes with stunning precision and flexibility. The men have taut, muscular torsos of commanding confidence, and feet and legs as nimble off the ground as on.
The Boston Globe, Jan 15 2008