Saturday, December 9

German Cornejo’s Tango After Dark – Peacock Theatre

Tango after dark lingers on the notes of passion from the first beat. Arriving in London after a world tour, it delivers, as promised, a show of technique and unbelievable craftsmanship. The performance expresses nostalgia and melancholy, dripping with sensual passion. Produced at Peacock Theatre by Sandra Castell Garcia with a limited run until 22nd October 2022.

The brilliance of nimble, trained bodies that do not tire by the non-stop dancing have one transfixed by the agility, flawlessness and rhythm. The sustained and palpable chemistry all the dancers can create on stage transports us to Buenos Aires. From a marketplace where a chase ensues, breaking into an energetic group dance to a dimly lit bar where the slowness of each poised swish and matching notes takes one’s breath away. The choreography alternates between solos, duets, trios and group dances in perfect sync with pulsating music of Astor Piazolla. Starting in the 60s, Piazola revolutionized music for Tango, incorporating jazz and classical music. The show begins with the distinct sound of the German bandoneon, haunting in its musicality and oozing with sensuality with the dancer’s offer.

The show attempts to step away from the cliches of sexist imagery. However, it does play with tropes of the circle of boys in playful banter, having an energetic exchange of playful flirtations to couple entanglements. World tango champions German Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi arrive in every scene with the strength and tenderness of leading and following with such attunement that it feels like the symmetry of a peacock feather. Each of the couples, Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre; Mariano Balois and Micaela Spina; Nicolas Schell and Noelia Pizzo; Juan Malizia and Manuela Rossi, have ample space to take centre stage and showcase their individual styles. Together, the troupe appears like a train of iridescent tail feathers on a peacock’s back, each at a unique head tilt or body contortion but symmetry in motion.

The show has no set, but the lights, music and dance are so evocative that the sketches of the city are seamlessly formed. In another scene, we are transported to the internal pulls in the heroine’s mind, with the imaginative drapes across the stage cocooning the dancer as she gracefully untangles herself to break free from the shackles of the cloth. In the first half, the particularly moving Violin solo by Gemma Scalia and the voices of Antonela Cirillo and Jesus Hidalgo are spellbinding. The musicians and singers are not in the dark but are rightfully so, centre stage at various levels for us to witness how tirelessly they strum notes and set the stage for the dancers. Led by Diego Ramos on the Piano as musical director, each of the musicians brings the intoxicating music alive. One of my favourite moments in the show was when the dancers evaporated, and the musicians played ‘Adios Nonimo’ in the second act. The piece is melancholic and evokes a sense of nostalgia.

Technical finesse and perfection are the reputations of Artistic Director German Cornejo and choreographer Gisela Galeassi and each member of the team delivers. The long hours of rehearsal and repetition shine through as the music, the musicians, the dancers, the light, the singer and the props breathe simultaneously, leaving one spellbound. ‘Tango, after dark’ personifies longing, not only for love but the city’s romance, of joy with friends and tender exchanges of lovers. The lifts and drops of the bodies bring your heart to your mouth and audible gasps across the hall. It feels like a love letter to the city which formed the choreographer while giving us space to reflect on all we have left behind to be where we are. A nostalgic remembrance of time fractured in a kaleidoscope with each frame a symmetrical pattern, bold-coloured costumes and sophisticated hairstyles. I am curious why there are no plus-size bodies or queer explorations in this recreation of a dance form that belonged to the immigrants and enslaved people that arrived in Argentina.

However, I would not miss the show for its yearning looks, tender exchanges and lasting embraces, as the slowness of intentioned movement in between the hectic dancing is due to receive the standing ovation it deserved.

Playing until 22nd October,

Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil

Reviewed: 11th October 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★