Peacock Theatre, Sadler’s Wells West End
Until November 4
Choreographer and artistic director: Matias Jaime
Dance captains: Miguel Flores, Ariel Pereyra
Dancers: Alejo Acosta, Federico Arrua, Santiago Carrizo, Mauro Dellac, Mauro Dias, Leandro Figueroa, Federico Ibarra, Jonathan Leiva, Gabriel Lopez, Leandro Palavecino, Facundo Villamayor
Musicians: Martin Morales, Juan Carlos Acosta, Lucas Coria, Gustavo Ybarbas
Thoughts of war and aggression sprang to mind as the Argentine all-male troupe Malevo surged onto the stage, bare-chested and thunderously beating drums. I also found myself thinking The Peacock Theatre was the perfect setting for such stuff-strutting.
But any thoughts the scheduled ninety minutes might be too long for a macho display of virility were banished by a superbly coordinated frenzy of frantic footwork and brilliant bravado.
Director, choreographer and dancer Matias Jaime, we’re told by the programme notes, created Malevo from the Malambo, which was developed by South American cowboys.
After a day on horseback in The Pampas, they were supposedly relaxing around the campfire, if relaxation can be this competitive and adrenaline-charged.
Matias Jaime’s mission is to keep the Malambo tradition relevant.
Apart from the drums and the furious footwork, the height of the absurd, wonderful spectacle is created by the daring use of the boleadoras – a leather and stone hunting tool.
For maximum impact, Malevo introduces them one at a time until the entire troupe is swinging boleadores in terrifying arcs that somehow do not collide.
In a performance of repeated climaxes, another standout crescendo is from the musicians, who also leap to their stomping feet and treat us to not just the Piazzolla you might expect but a rendition of Yesterday ecstatically squeezed from the bandoneon.
Ultimately, it is a highly competitive male display but as a force of life, not mutual destruction.
Barbara Lewis © 2023.