Milonga by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui

Posted on November 8, 2013 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

I have seen several shows choreographed by the experimental Moroccan-Flemish choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui's at Sadlers Wells before, including: Sutra ( a collaboration with Antony Gormley and a group of young Shaolin monks in 2008), Babel ( another collaboration with Gormley and Damien Jalet in 2010) and TeZukA ( on the works of the master of Japanese manga, Osamu Tezuka in 2011). Needless to say, I did not want to miss his new tango show Milonga, especially because of my own interest in the dance.

If Cherkaoui was a chef, he would probably be a 'fusion' one but with the creativity of someone like Heston Blumenthal ( as the term 'fusion' does not always bring excitement). But unlike his previous pieces, the dancing style in Milonga is more traditional than I expected, focusing more on the connection between the dancers rather than reinventing or fusing it with some other dance style. It is refreshing to see the incorporation of visual effects like shadow cutouts and video clips of the Streets in Buenos Aires ( even though it feels rather random), as well as some humour, which is often lacking in tango shows ( or even at most tango milongas). The live music is mostly nuevo with many pieces by Astor Piazzolla and some milonga for the lighthearted part. Having previously seen the more traditional tango shows by companies like Tango Fire or Tanguera which often showcase the techniques of the dancers but fail to update the stereotypical ( or cheesy) image of the dance, Cherkaoui's Milonga is certainly a step forward. The dancers are given the opportunity to showcase their personal dancing styles rather than being choreographed in a certain routine as a group, hence the contemporary style couple really stands out from the ensemble. However, I feel that the show is slightly restrained compare to the choreographer's previous work; perhaps he was under pressure to not go too far, so this show feels like the beginning of something that could be developed or explored further.



My favourite part of the evening is the dynamic men trio, which ultimately reflects the dance's essence and roots i.e. Argentinian tango started as a dance between two men. I have always enjoyed seeing men dancing tango with each other because of their powerful energy and spontaneity, and the chemistry between men is very different from a man/woman couple. I love watching Los Hermanos Macana, the two brothers who dance and perform together, I find them so inspiring! ( you can watch their jaw-dropping performances via their website above)

I rarely see men dancing with each other at milongas in London ( although there are more women dancing with each other these days) because of the rather reserved tango culture here. Having visited milongas in other cities, I find the London tango scene very uninspiring and so have taken a step back...

I hope that Cherkaoui's Milonga will change some people's views on Argentinian tango, which is very different from the "Strictly come dancing" style! The show will end on 10th Nov, so go see it if you can.


This post was posted in London, Tango, Dance and was tagged with London, tango, Sadler Wells