Other than a weekly dose of sparkly, orange, Strictly–fied celebrities through the cooler months, and an annual Christmas trip to the ballet, dance performances are low on my to–do list.
Not because I have anything against dance, but as a writer I find it easier to connect to a story told through words. I said yes, however, to reviewing Tango Moderno because I love the music that goes along with traditional tango, and uncharacteristically I hadn’t done any research so I was expecting a lot of that. I was, in the end happily, wrong.
At Leeds Grand Theatre for a short run, this was far more than a simple dance show, with a narrator who spoke in poetry – incredibly, not annoying but endearing – and a collection of love stories woven together by stars Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace acting as cupid to the troubled young lovers trying to muddle their way through modern romance.
With its upbeat pop numbers and routines covering various stresses of 21st century life – social media and smartphones, Tinder and the Tube – I kind of wanted to hate it, be too cool for something that yes, at times, was pretty cheesy, but I just couldn’t. It was too endearing, and frankly the sheer athleticism on show was far too impressive to be put off by a little cheese. Strictly stars Vincent and Flavia were unquestionably the centrepiece of the show, but across the board the skill from this sprightly young dance troupe was almost unbelievable. If I could dance like that I’d stop expressing myself through words too.
Though it’s half of the show’s namesake, tango was far from the only dance on display – with other styles mixed together into a bright, swirling cocktail – hip hop, Viennese waltz, jive, cha cha cha, rumba… if you’ve seen it on Strictly it was here, and it worked remarkably well. I was glued from start to finish, not least by some death–defying lifts that almost make you shield your eyes… almost.
My favourite number? Well true to form it was the traditional tango, but largely because it was set to one of my all–time favourite pieces of music – the Assassin’s Tango from the film Mr & Mrs Smith. Go listen; it’s glorious. That particular bias aside, the two singers, Rebecca Lisweski and Tom Parsons, managed to resurrect the various pop numbers from the sad death of overplaying, and turn them into something that filled the theatre – particularly with the sheer power of Rebecca’s incredible voice.
It’s fun, jolly and funny, with a backbone of dance skill and athleticism that manages to counteract the cheesiness for the most part. It’s not the sexy escape to a candlelit Argentine dance hall I’d expected, but it’s still a bright escapist take on modern life.
Rosie writes for Leeds Living on food and drink, health, beauty, culture and retail.