Review: ‘Che Malambo’ Seduces With Fiery Percussive Beats
By Mercedes Vizcaino, Contributing Writer, March 29, 2017
The tango isn’t the only captivating dance to emerge from Argentina—behold, “Malambo,” a type of dance with origins dating back to the 17th century. Competitive duels, danced solely by men, that challenged skills of agility, strength and dexterity. The all-male 14 member dance troupe (known as “gauchos” or South American cowboys) in Che Malambo put on a sizzling performance at Kingsborough College this past weekend. With live music and rhythmic footwork known as “Zapateo,” inspired by galloping horses, the performers (dressed in all-black) simultaneously enter the stage, playing drums “bombas” with pulsating beats. And, throughout the show, the audience (me included) couldn’t help but move to the rhythm of each thump.
The first half of Che Malambo has dancers battling each other with impressive choreographed dance techniques in variations of two, three and four dancers at a time. One of the solo acts introduces the “boleadora,” a lighted whirling lasso the performer swings around rapidly with such precision, ease and intensity, you can’t help but wonder how long it took to perfect this stunt. Vocals aren’t part of the first half of the show, and perhaps had they been included, the production would have felt more balanced.
The second half of the show is more energetic, with the backdrop lit in alternating shades of pinks and purples, it brings a lighter element to the performance. It is also the first time we see the dancers smile. The audience is treated to an act with two vocalists and a drummer belting out romantic ballads. Towards the end, the whole dance troupe whirl around the “boleadoras” in a multitude of flashing colors. It was fascinating to watch and see the fluidity of their exact movements, especially a more mature dancer, who seemed to be the veteran of the company, strutting his stuff with self-confidence and true panache.
Che Malambo was created by French director and choreographer Gilles Brinas, and has been touring the world since 2007 (their previous appearance locally was at New York City Center in 2015). Their US tour is currently underway; to see their remaining itinerary click here.
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Che Malambo in performance at Kingsborough College on March 25, 2017. Concept, choreography, staging, and musical composition by Gilles Brinas; lighting concept and design by Gilles Brinas and Joshua Paul Weckesser. The Company: Federico Arrua, Fernando Castro, Francisco Ciares, Claudio Diaz, Miguel Flores, Federico Gareis, Albanano Jimenez, Walter Kochanowski, Gonzalo Leiva, Facundo Lencina, Gabriel Lopez, Exequiel Maya, Daniel Medina and Jose Palacio.
Cover: The company of ‘Che Malambo;’ courtesy of the production.