Tango: they probably think about it every six seconds in Buenos Aires. From humble origins, this dance has captured the world’s imagination from sweltering shanty towns to icy Finland. After spells in New York, Tokyo and around Europe, tango spectacular Tanguera has come to Sadler’s Wells for a three-week residency.
Press night at Sadler’s Wells lured out some well-known faces: infamous ex-Westminster Council leader Dame Shirley Porter, wannabe standup comedian Lembit Opik talking to a young blonde and later a slim brunette (well, at least pretend to look surprised) and some of the dancers and contestants of BBC TV’s Celebrity Come Dancing. In fact, we were lucky enough to be find ourselves sitting in front of judge Bruno Tonioli (more later).
Tanguera has a basic plot: a tragic love triangle with standard Latin American hallmarks. The plot is by far the weakest part of the show, not least because it relies on narrative torch songs in Spanish. The songs break up the show’s flow and requires non-Spanish speakers to watch translations provided on small stageside screens to understand what was going on; tolerable from the stalls, less so from upstairs.
Those niggles aside, the show is a devastating display of dance. The trite plot may be about love but the real love here is between the dancers and dancing. They move with a fluid, natural grace, their eyes locked on their partners with legs flipping and scissoring in perfect co-ordination. The speed and dexterity of these dancers boggles the mind. We get to see balletic battles (Bruno: “Wow!”), sax-led sex scenes (Bruno: “Amazing!”) and an eye-popping all-company finale (Bruno: “Sexy. So sexy.” Thanks, Bruno.) If this was on the big screen, we would be convinced that there was some CGI involved; instead we have a very skilled company of performers who have successfully incorporated contemporary tango styles like Nuevo Tango and Queer Tango alongside classic flourishes like La Cumparsita.
After having seen Hofesh Shechter’s pretentious Political Mother there, it is heartening to see that Sadler’s Wells has gone from the ridiculous to the sublime. This is probably the sexiest show in town and we recommend you catch this while you can.
Tanguera runs until August 22nd and tickets can be bought here.