Reviewed by Jennifer Hopkinson
Last night (Tuesday 30th May 2017) we had the pleasure of visiting the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton to watch Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s M¡longa – Tango for the 21st Century. Wow what a performance!
M¡longa’s cast is made up of 5 couples who are Tango dancers and have been dancing together for between 6 and 10 years and have been involved from the start of the project and in its development. The show also has 2 couples who are contemporary dancers, although only 1 of the couples dance, depending on which performance is taking place and a quintet of musicians that were on the stage throughout the performance. This is the first time that M¡longa has toured and it is inspired by the late night m¡longa scenes in the back streets of Buenos Aries. Cherkaoui draws on traditional argentine Tango and adds a contemporary twist resulting in a truly unique mixture of Tango and contemporary dancing along with unique music that has been composed for the show. After the performance there was a question and answer session with Fernando (Composer, Musical Director and Pianist) and Nélida (Tango Consultant) that helped to clear up any misconceptions and allowed you to ask questions about the performance.
The story is about a man and a lady who were on holiday in Argentina and stumbled across a M¡longa. At first they were confused and left wondering what sort of dance this was but soon were entranced and captured the spirit of the dancing. Whilst the man and the lady did not arrive together, they met at the dance and a romance started. In parts of the performance, Cherkaoui tries to show domestic violence and how you may move past it. The cast portrayed their roles well but a better understanding of the story and meaning came after the show during the question and answer session.
The cast worked well together and the performance was impressive from start to finish earning absolute silence in the audience from the moment the curtain went up to the final curtain call. Having the band on stage throughout the performance made it feel more intimate and helped transport you to the back streets of Buenos Aries. Throughout the performance, images were projected as a film as a back drop and the dancers danced in front as though they were part of the scenes being played. Each and every dancer, male and female danced with so much emotion and passion they were simply exquisite.
The performance was jam packed and at times it was difficult to catch it all and would definitely benefit from another trip to catch what was missed and armed with the knowledge from the question and answer session. Having said that I would watch this show every night of the week as the time flew by and before you knew it the performance was over and you were left wanting more.
The show scores highly on my radar gaining a full 5 stars although if I could give it more I would.
For other shows at the Mayflower Theatre visit www.mayflower.org.uk.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811