• Nov 12,2013
  • In Review
  • By Abundant Art

Milonga! Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui Sadler’s Wells, 6-10 Nov 2013

Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s Milonga is a homage to Tango and the city of Buenos Aires.

Milonga is his attempt to unravel the mystery of the dance which is as much about the spirit as the senses. He goes beyond the man-woman connection in a traditional Tango to add new narratives around human relationships. The result is beautiful and moving.

The show starts with a background projection of a party scene, or ‘Milonga’ where couples are locked in intimate Tango embraces. The man-woman dynamics of wooing, jealousy, heart break and the final coming together of the souls in ultimate submission. Cherkaoui then moves on to explore further. Keeping the cliches, for his audience to enjoy the usual and be intrigued to delve deeper, into the new Cherkaoui innovation.

‘Milonga’ is also about woman to woman partnership, a trio of three men enjoying a joyous camaraderie, a woman’s dream of sharing a close relationship with a baby and also love triangles. But in all this he does not depart from the core essence of the dance form – intimacy, close embrace, support, touch and playful pleasure.There are also sharp contrasts of techniques displayed through the choreography. The use of 5 Tango dancer couples and 1 Contemporary dancer couple take ‘Milonga’ to a higher plane of stark contrasts in glorious harmony.

They twirl in each others arms eyes shut. Some are frozen in timeless gaze, lost in each others eyes when their breath reach out to brush past the audience. There are steaming scenes where the couples are chest to chest, hip to hip and thigh to thigh, as if their souls are fused in one. They emit sparks in their fiery, crisp and sharp Tango moves. Time and space evaporate. What remains is the mad dying need to be in each others arms. A complete surrender to the partner, tearing and destroying anything that might come in between. Even with closed eyes, one would feel the fierceness of the sensuous passion that flows through movement and music on the floor.

Men share a brief moment to challenge each other in a playful banter and good natured repartee. A masculine scene full of energy and spirit. Cherkaoui also brings in humour through the couple who following their unexpected rendezvous, flirt with each other. The coquettish tourist in the city goes all out to match up in Tago moves with the man who is a local. Her awkward moves are true to the character, and carried out with finesse.

The scenes flow through a collage of relationships. Tango -primarily the dance of connection between two people has also been treated as a mirror of relationships between two or more, in their various forms, shapes, colours and essence in Milonga!

The dance scenes are intercepted with melodious music sections with accompanying state of the art video design. Cut outs of dancing couples have been used with a variety of lighting designs. Sometimes they are living – as true as being physically present. Or they are snowy, white, blank paper skinned shapes with human outlines, carving out sensual dancing partners. Sometimes  they are colourful – reflecting the dancers that merge from the dark background, transposing into these shapes to get into their next sequence. Cherkaoui’s imagination of a thousand wonders merge to meet the expertise of Eugenio Szwarcer, set and video designer and Adam Carree, lighting designer. It is the phenomenal visual art that augments the Cherkaoui innovation in an evening of Tango.

Cherkaoui has proved to be the master of absorbing different styles and recreating them. Retaining their unique originality with touches from his own paint brush to draw a new design in movement. In creating Milonga, he travels deep into the roots of Tango and then journeys back up to the surface to refashion it in his own image. Milonga is a narrative of human relationships that touches the heart!

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