Dance Consortium, a group of seventeen large-scale theatres located across the UK, announces the m¡longa UK Tour 2017. Created by celebrated contemporary dancer and choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, m¡longa, a Sadler’s Wells production, is a seductive and fascinating exploration of tango for the 21st century. Already the tour is gathering ecstatic reviews and East Midlands Theatre reviewer Phil Lowe went to preview the stunning tango show at Sadler’s Wells and to interview Nélida Rodriguez de Aure. Nélida Rodriguez de Aure, tango superstar and artistic consultant for m¡longa, explains her deep passion for the art of tango and her admiration for talents of choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.
“First to explain about Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. This genius choreographer is internationally renowned for his ground-breaking and critically revered productions with artists including Akram Khan and Maria Pagès. He has award winning works such as Sutra and Babel. Sibi Larbi has created more than twenty productions and is widely acknowledged as one of Europe’s most genuinely exciting choreographers.”
What do you think the dance and tango loving Nottingham audiences will get from the m¡longa show? The response at Sadler’s Wells was extraordinary. Can you explain how it differs from a traditional tango show?
©Tristram Kenton (all photos)
“Yes. The tango itself is deeply rooted in Argentinean culture. It has fascinated and captivated the world with its sexuality, power and beauty. The dance was creatively inspired by the late night tango scene in intimate bars across Buenos Aires. Sibi Lardi Cherkaoui draws on traditional tango influences and adds a contemporary twist in m¡longa. The show was created for a cast of seventeen performers – ten Argentinean tango dancers, two contemporary dancers and five musicians. The beautiful live music is from Argentinean composer Fernando Marzan. Sibi Lardi brilliantly explores the social and choreographic vocabulary of Argentinian tango and brings his own unique choreographic style to m¡longa.”
This is much more than a sweet tango show though.
“Absolutely. It’s true that the idea of tango can become a cliché when it is rooted in a very traditional style of dancing – quite formalized. What Sibi Lardi has done is taken it out of the line of work. He has broken the line and has introduced many new things in our Argentinian tango language. He said that he wanted to keep the spirit and the roots and not lose that but, at the same time he wants to introduce different things. Creation doesn’t have limits and we as individuals limit ourselves until we play with the form and then we see exciting new chances to express the tango combined with contemporary dance and the use of bold imagery on stage. When we worked with Sibi Lardi, myself and the dancers, saw some amazingly beautiful new ideas emerge and still we didn’t lose the essence. This kind of mix of contemporary with tango steps and body work – it is very extraordinary. You can hear the audience gasp at the artistry. It is not easy to mix the styles and we have great dancers who have worked very hard to achieve what you see on stage. ”
Tango is a very passionate art, isn’t it?
“ Very much so. Passion is life for us. You see it all the time with our company on the stage. In this show Sibi Lardi is ‘talking about’ people alone, people very sad, melancholic, sometimes violent and there is much humour too! Of course! All kinds of passion on stage.”
m¡longa uses a lot of very creative projections and stage settings, doesn’t it?
“Certainly, we are very lucky to have the talents of Eugenio Szwarcer who has created the video projections and set design and our costumes are designed by renowned fashion designer Tim Van Steenbergen. As you saw, the theatrical lighting by Adam Carrée and sound by Gaston Briski also contribute to making this show a modern tango spectacular.”
The projections and film aspects could be interpreted like they are showing the dancers’ memories. They are very beautiful, artistically fascinating and sometimes very moving.
“Exactly. It is not common to do work in this way. The audiences love it. It helps to show the mixed spirit of the Argentine people who historically came from immigrants coming from many countries looking for a new life since the middle of the 19th Century. It is not easy to capture that spirit but Sibi Lardi has done it in this work by concentrating on the couples in the dance. He started to work and be playful and deeply explored, with the dancers, the temperaments of the passionate people. We are normal people and in our lives we experience many things, problems, beautiful moments, tragedies, happy moments and moments with a lot of humour. We people play and have games, we fight and sometimes we are very sad and don’t why and sometimes the opposite.”
All of the human experience within the dance?
“ Exacto! What I find most moving is the concept of domestic abuse between the man and woman that is shown through some of the dance sets. This is sadly a common universal problem and very rarely shown through dance performance. We are not seeing on stage a sweet tango history but a real history of many many people. Much more interesting for the audience. There is a real electric connection between the dancers and musicians on stage. Every number gets a huge applause. I think there is an emotional involvement with the people on the stage. They are great dancers and musicians and they are feeling so hard and believing so hard in what they are doing that it is impossible that an audience cannot feel this deep emotion and passion that comes from the belly and the heart. They enjoy every night and they are absolutely inside the soul of the show with their tango partners. We are very much looking forward to performing m¡longa for the people of Nottingham.”
m¡longa is playing at Nottingham Royal Concert Hall Fri 9 – Sat 10 June 2017.