Review: Milonga

Image credit: Sadler's Wells

After submitting my first draft to my supervisor, I decided to take a day off and went to London to watch a show. A couple of summers ago, I took Argentine tango lessons and fell in love with the music and the dance. It is an art form that is deeply rooted in Argentinean culture. The music is nostalgic and the dance is seductive, powerful, and beautiful.

Milonga is the term for a tango dance party. The one and a half hour show was just not enough. Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, the internationally celebrated choreographer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist, combined Argentine tango, contemporary dance, and live music, and brought his own unique style to tango. The innovative use of visual aids was very creative and fascinating. Video footage of the streets of Buenos Aires was projected onto the screen while the dancers tangoed away – it felt like I was physically there.

My two other favourite scenes were a passionate fight and a playful flirtation. The physical communication and the hypnotic dialogue between the couples was touching and entertaining. I couldn’t stop looking at their swivelling legwork. The intimacy and virtuosity is absolutely mesmerizing.

The onstage live band was as captivating. They played a good fusion of traditional and modern. I’ve always loved accordion music; for some reason it reminds me of Paris (I blame the French film soundtracks) – it is lively and expressive. The show is a combination of homage and innovation, both in terms of the choreography, music, and use of video.

After the show, there was a 30-minute tango workshop, and of course I couldn’t miss it. Tango dance is essentially walking with a partner and the music, feeling the emotion through an embrace. Dancers keep their feet close to the floor, with the ankles and knees brushing as one leg passes the other. I love watching Argentine tango close up, as in when we stand around a room and watch the instructors demonstrate; that is when you can see the movement of their bodies and muscles, and the intense emotion on their faces.

They are currently touring around the UK and will be performing in Saffron Hall on 2-3 June. I highly recommend it, for either a break or a post-exam celebration. Tickets are available online from £18.

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