Argentina on a London stage

Tango is undoubtedly Argentinian, right? It can be a little confusing when a dance company’s director’s name is also a nationality. That’s the first thing we discussed as we walked up the stairs to the theatre: Does this the show include German tango? Wait! What? German tango? There is no such thing! If you don’t know that “German” is a typical first name in the Spanish-speaking world, it might leave you with a few wild questions.

As we sat down in the theatre, the safety curtain was lifted and there it was: German Cornejo’s Wild Tango.

Tango un-coupled and re-coupled

Percieved tradition is that tango is a couple’s dance. It involves a ‘him’ and a ‘her’ in a symbiosis of movement on the dance floor. German Cornejo breaks with such perceptions in Wild Tango: Same sex couples take over the stage at The Peacock Theatre in London between 12th and 21st May 2022. The most surprising thing is that such a break with perceptions is that there’s no impact on the feel. Man and woman, man and man, woman and woman – however, the couple is comprised, it is a stunning dance show. Every single dancer impresses with skill, elegance, and emotion. No wonder the premiere finishes with standing ovations, never-ending applause, and yet another costume change.

Where does the dance stop being Tango?

Next to 13 dancers out of which only 3 are women, on stage is a band of 4: piano, accordion, guitar, and drums. Yes, drums. Once again, German Cornejo breaks perceived tradition with a modern version of Tango. Influences of rock and electronic music melt into Tango rhythms to create a magical fusion. Tradition however is not forgotten. Every other number is a classical piece with Spanish guitar, the melancholy mood associated with Argentinian Tango stands, and live vocals by Luciano Bassi that one can only describe as impressive.

Equally impressive – and equally influenced by different genres – is the dance. The ever-present Tango rhythm provides the baseline and the steps to which the dancers consistently return. Everything in between contains elements of ballet, tap, street dance, and acrobatics. From pirouettes to trapeze art, the dancers in Wild Tango are literally flying across the stage at The Peacock Theatre. Transitions between different dance styles are so smooth that a tango-amateur could not define where tango ends and the other styles begin.

The cherry-on-the-top is costumes that guide the audience through the show and the emotions throughout the different shows. As such, the costumes start in dark monochrome colours in the rather melancholic, sinister and strong first half. After the interval, the stage becomes bright and colorful with neon yellow and pink dresses and dance of softness, fun and love. The show ends in a celebration of love, of tango, others and life.

Wild Tango is on at The Peacock Theatre in London until 21st May 2022. Tickets are available online.