The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires has been winning universal praise across the globe since 2005, when the five couples it features came together to create a formidable company. With this is mind I was hoping for an evening of sensuous, hot tango, with dancers that oozed chemistry and embodied precision with fast feet and expressive arms, but unfortunately Tango Fire left me feeling distinctly tepid. There were occasional flashes of excitement but sadly I felt the cast were too inconsistent and it felt glaringly apparent that some were more skilled than others.
I enjoyed the individual contributions from Gonzalo Cuello and Melody Celatti who danced passionately with control, grace and just a little vulnerability that made them a joy to watch. Equally choreographer German Cornejo and beautiful brunette Gisela Galeassi were sizzling additions to the cast, bringing some much needed interplay.
The exuberant costuming featured some hits and misses. The speakeasy style number that closed the first act featured sexy black backless sequinned dress with the typical stylistic slits you’d expect for a tango. The night featured many backless dresses that served well to enhance the strength and flexibility of the finely honed tool that is the dancer’s back. However Victoria Saudelli’s costume for her final showcase with partner Sebastian Alvarez can only be described as unfortunate; a nude coloured catsuit with crimson detail that emphasised all the wrong areas.
Good and bad aside, the evening felt frustratingly directionless. The programme moved between milonga, tango and tango moderno, accompanied by regular musical interludes from company band Quarteto Fuego, without any storyline to bind it together. When a theme was presented, it left me scratching my head looking for meaning, such as trio German, Gisela and Melody’s devil/angel number in which German wafted between the two ladies without any other discernible plot developments.
Choreographically there were high points and an array of acrobatics, some of which came off more successfully than others. One must applaud German Cornejo’s bravery for including so many challenging throws, however the gasps of the audience were of fear rather than relaxed delight.
The set remained sparse and unremarkable throughout, and what set there was seemed redundant, including a tawdry washing line in a daytime scene and some barely present fairy lights to denote night-time. As a package the production felt lost in a tangle of ideas as well as trying to ensure each couple was equally showcased.
Unfortunately, the impressive dance highlights were too brief to save Tango Fire and I was left with nothing more than flames of warmth.
Tango Fire: Flames of Desire plays at the Peacock Theatre until 14 February. For tickets and more information, see the Sadler’s Wells website.