David Cunningham is impressed as to entertained by the moves of Tangomotion.
3 Aug 2014
Tangomotion offers plenty for the connoisseur of the art of this sultry dance. The expert quartet Tango Siempre play live music while four world class tango dancers provide demonstrations of the subtly different types of tango from the classic to the contemporary. Whether the show has the same appeal for audiences who are not already enthusiasts is debatable.
Although the tango is associated with sultry climates and the sense of loss experienced by Europeans exiled to Argentina the intricacy of the footwork requires such precision that the dancers seem constrained rather than passionate.
Tangomotion has an atmosphere of controlled tension and the emotional release that one associates with dancing is replaced by cool expertise and restraint. The style is cooperative rather than competitive which limits the potential drama of the dancing.
The movement of the dancers is limited to the legs and feet. Their arms are not used expressively but rather to support their partner and the trunk of the body is largely immobile. It is the legs that are so fascinating to watch- constantly entwining with, and slipping between, those of the partner yet never clashing. The speed of the footwork is so rapid that the possibility of an accident is a constant fear that, amazingly, never materialises.
The show is promoted as a demonstration and it does have an academic aspect of providing a showcase for the style of dancing rather than straightforward entertainment. Audience concentration is vital and even so it takes awhile to pick up on the subtle differences in the styles adopted by the dancers.
One couple is aloof; dressed in dark shades of clothing and adopting immobile facial expressions even when dancing cheek to cheek. The other is less restrained and more casual; often entering solo, dressed in brighter colours and greeting each other with warm smiles. Their style of dancing is more exuberant with flamboyant lifts and dramatic mid-air scissoring legs.
The format of Tangomotion is simple; each couple performs a dance and, as they change costumes, Tango Siempre plays an instrumental number. As with the dancing there is an educational aspect to the music with the bandleader/pianist giving background information on the nature of the tunes which range from the smooth style of 1930s Buenos Aires to the powerful Nuevo Tango music of Astor Piazzolla.
The music shares the technical expertise and slightly remote feel of the tango being closer to jazz than more organic forms of music such as folk.
Taste in music, and by association dance, is a personal choice and the rather cool cerebral jazz music of Tangomotion along with the restrained dancing make for a show that is more appreciated than enjoyed.