Burn, baby burn! – Exclusive Tango Fire dancers interview with Victoria Nangle
Following its 7th sold out season at Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre in London’s West End, Tango Fire is bringing its sizzling choreography and acclaimed dancers out on tour, collecting together six of the best tango couples into one single show to showcase both their own dances – and in the group sections the incredible choreography of German Cornejo.
Amongst the tango pairings are Ezequiel Lopez and Camila Alegre – recognised as one of Buenos Aires’ finest Tango couples, and crowned Tango World Champions in 2015. Previously they have toured internationally with different Tango companies and were assistant choreographers in Stravaganza Tango Musical (Buenos Aires).
The pair started training at a very young age – four or five years old they tell me, and since then dance has taken over their lives. “For us it is everything,” explains Lopez. “The tango is everything in our lives. It is a beautiful dance. It is beautiful way of life.” He sparks off in his native Argentine Spanish with Alegre to make sure he’s saying what he wants to correctly. English is not their native language, and dancing is their first language – which works out fine as their tour takes them on to Monaco, Nice and Edinburgh, before returning to Argentina.
The tango has taken Lopez and Alegre all over the world, competing, show dancing and teaching. When pressed as to where it is they most enjoy to dance together they’re of one accord – in a theatre as a part of a show. Whilst clearly excelling at competition dancing both share that the pressure and nerves are terrible, despite the opportunity to grow as dancers. That they much prefer to tango together either in theatres or in clubs – as they do back home in Argentina where they can be found show dancing in renowned Tango houses in Buenos Aires including Café Tortoni, Esquina Carlos Gardel Show, Tango Porteño, Madero Tango, and Café de Los Angelitos.
Listening to them speak together, even in a language that is not their own, you get a taste for how they might move together – finishing each others’ sentences, an easy intimacy and mutual respect. It’s like witnessing a tango teaser. And why is the tango so popular internationally? Lopez’s answer could just as easily be about the two of them: “Because it has many things… the feeling, the dance, and the music is everything – a combo.”
Lopez and Alegre are a couple both on and off the dance floor, and are a delight – acknowledging how they continue to learn different things from each other on a daily basis. There’s a support network there that is evident in the way that they talk, present and dance. I ask as to whether they take notice of the audience when they perform and they acknowledge that it is the constant of each other – blocking out all variables – that keeps them on top form every night.
So how would one go about learning to tango from scratch? When quizzed as to the starting blocks of learning the passionate hit they’re both adamant that you can’t start with your heart or your body – the two must work in tandem. “We’ll try to explain…” starts Lopez kindly, “the tango is a combination.”
“It’s very important, “ continues Alegre, “that people don’t change their movement. You walk in the street? You walk naturally – yes? And in the tango it’s the same. You’re not like a robot.” And she starts to comically act out the part of a robot, demonstrating exactly what they don’t want.
“It’s just like when you walk in the street.” re-enforces Lopez, “The tango was born this way. It’s a social dance – the tango – alluding to the conquest of the woman…”
“It’s sensual…” adds Alegre.
“Sensual,” he agrees, “erotic… the tango combines all of these things. When you learn it is very important to feel. Feel the beat, feel the melody – all of the time. Feel the other person. Don’t lose the natural…,”
“The natural…” she echoes. And again the synergy of the two is plain to see as the sentence drifts off.
Readiness for a big tour of a show like Tango Fire takes a lot of mental preparation, with Lopez sharing that there have been the intense rehearsals of both their own paired dances and those involving the entire company. And he takes a satisfaction from persistently getting better, trying to be the best that he can. When quizzed on his ambitions he claims to have none, simple “little dreams” to keep learning, to visit new countries, and to keep getting better.
I want to know what he has learned today. “Today?” Yes. “to speak a little bit more,” Lopez replies with a smile. “To try. Yes. I try to be better, day on day.”
Lopez and Alegre are clearly very happy to be a part of Tango Fire, singing high praises of their fellow dancers in the show. Most of all, they seem in awe of tango superstar German Cornejo who not only dances himself in the show but also choreographs all of the group pieces.
“The group choreography is fast – the movements are passionate,” Lopez explains. “He combines everything. German Cornejo is the best. The best. Really.”
And we’re left with a burning passion to witness all of them, moving with the music, telling their tales, and learning more every day on their tango adventures.
German Cornejo’s Tango Fire, Theatre Royal Brighton, Monday 2 March 2020, from £13, www.atgtickets.com/shows/german-cornejos-tango-fire/theatre-royal-brighton/