MALEVO at the Peacock Theatre
“for sheer bravissimo entertainment, featuring an extraordinary and quite dazzling company, this is a hard show to match”
Did anyone say beefcake? Thirteen highly talented dancers a tabloid might describe as hotter than midsummer on the pampas, took the Peacock Theatre by storm last night. Their 90 minute show, directed by company founder Matías Jaime, presents a re-interpretation (or evolution?) of Malambo, a fiercely competitive traditional Argentinian gaucho dance, which is performed exclusively by men.
Joining the dancers on stage were a quartet of musicians: Martin Morales, Juan Carlos Acosta, Lucas Coria and Gustavo Ybarbas. They play violin, squeeze box, guitar and a battery of drums which send out the high octane beats at the heart of the show. The music majors on catchy flamenco, tango and other energetic rhythms, all re-mixed loudly and edgily with the sounds of the performers who stomp, drum, whoop and dance with dazzling precision.
The first routine features the thunderous sound of traditional drums, carried by all 13 bare-chested dancers who are led by their captains Miguel Flores and Ariel Pereyra. True to the traditional form, this is defiantly macho stuff, complete with fierce glares and puffed out chests. As the energy levels and the pace wind up, the sweat really flies.
“the show came to a thunderous conclusion which was met with rapturous applause from a very enthusiastic audience”
Malevo also features some stunning routines with a version of the bolas or boleadora, a throwing weapon consisting of heavily weighted cords traditionally used to capture animals by entangling their legs. The cords spin brilliantly in different directions as the weights beat out a rhythm on the floor which is set against syncopated foot-tapping and stomping by the performer.
Whilst the first half hour consisted predominantly of chorus style line-outs, the central section, which followed the first of two musical interludes, included a slightly subtler sequence in which a stomper, a drummer and a boleadorista vie with each other in proudly rapping out rhythms at one another. Another routine features a softer style of barefooted tap-dancing, which called for one of several costume changes into lighter outfits which contrasted with the all black leather look of most of the show. The dance form also includes a distinctive side-footed tapping of the boot on the floor.
The lighting design by Eber Cepeda had some impressive effects although there were a few inconsistent moments.
After a second musical interlude, which featured an unexpected re-mix of a familiar Beatles tune, the show came to a thunderous conclusion which was met with rapturous applause from a very enthusiastic audience. Was the overall pace just a wee bit too relentless, and were the rhythms a bit too deafeningly insistent? Perhaps, but romantic pas de deux in the style of Matthew Bourne were hardly to be expected, and for sheer bravissimo entertainment, featuring an extraordinary and quite dazzling company, this is a hard show to match.
MALEVO at the Peacock Theatre
Reviewed on 31st October 2023
by David Woodward
Photography courtesy of Malevo
Previously reviewed at this venue: