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Milonga review at Sadler’s Wells, London – ‘a pure evocation of passion and heat’

Milonga. Photo: Tristram Kenton Milonga. Photo: Tristram Kenton
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Choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui is well known for his collaborative approach to dance and ongoing explorations of various styles. For Milonga, first created in 2013, Cherkaoui turns his focus to Argentine tango.

Performed by ten tango dancers, two contemporary and five musicians, the resulting 90 minute show captures all the passion and sensuality of this dance form. There are numerous duets; some erotic, some comical, some argumentative. Each partnership has its own tone, but all are intense and intimate, characterised by rapid footwork, entwined bodies and darting leg-flicks.

In typical Cherkaoui fashion, Milonga tests the possibilities of Argentine tango. The inclusion of two contemporary dancers leads to a duet more fluid in style, but Cherkaoui’s experimentations really come into their own in a male trio. The men weave, twist and leap, pulling upon and supporting one another in a sequence that pushes the dynamics of partnering.

This penchant for experimentation continues through to the accompanying 3D projections. The most effective are the fast-rolling images that take the audience on a dizzying spin through the streets of Buenos Aires. They’re a fitting reflection of this fast-paced dance, an intriguing – and intelligent – addition, yet often you can’t help feeling that it’s simply a way to adorn the content on stage.

Really, the finesse of this music and movement could stand by itself. The five-strong tango band are outstanding, their music a pure evocation of the passion and heat of Argentina – the perfect match to the sheer virtuosity of these tango couples. Milonga is Cherkaoui’s homage to an art form, and the joy of and love for this dance is infectious.

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Fiery yet sensual, this is Argentine tango pushed to its limits