Che Malambo review at Peacock Theatre, London – ‘masculine swagger’
Che Malambo begins with the thunder of drums. Twelve Argentine Malambo dancers make up this all-male company and they advance as one, in a macho display of percussive virtuosity.
This is an upfront, testosterone-fuelled show that thrives on the competitive camaraderie between its performers. As they vie with each other the rhythms become increasingly complex, the footwork more intricate and agile.
Inspired by the South American gauchos, the percussive footwork of Malambo melds the grounded, fiery passion of Flamenco, the flying kicks of Irish dance and the sultry twists and flicks of Argentine tango. It’s a thrilling combination pulled off with daring bravado.
A barefoot sequence see the flicks of the legs accentuated by softer foot rhythms, creating a vital moment of calm. But even with this drop in pace Che Malambo continues to simmer with an intense, urgent energy.
The climax is an explosion of whirling boleadoras (traditionally lassos with stones on the ends). As the men swirl them round their bodies in mesmeric patterns the percussive accompaniment builds from the clip of the stones upon the floor to the swoosh of the lasso as it slices through air. It’s the final ingredient in this impressive, adrenaline raising performance – the crucial element of risk that adds to the already impressive precision and power of the piece.