REVIEW: Tanguera, a tango musical of two love stories at Sadler’s Wells

Cast from Tanguera. Picture: Stefan Malzkorn

Cast from Tanguera. Picture: Stefan Malzkorn - Credit: Sadlers Wells

You might not associate the docks and slums with the world’s most romantic dance — until you see Sadler’s Wells’ newest show, Tanguera, writes Allis Moss.

Cast from Tanguera. Picture: Manuel Navarro

Cast from Tanguera. Picture: Manuel Navarro - Credit: Sadlers Wells

And while the tango may be famous the world over as the most tantalising of dance moves, this smoking hot show from Argentina also reveals it as a love story in its own right.

Tanguera — a tango dancer who sells herself — is the tale of Giselle, a young woman who steps off the steamship with the other immigrants at the port of La Boca, Buenos Aires, finds love with a decent feller, but falls into the clutches of the pimps.

The spivs and gangsters who control her and the other girls living in the cheap tenements on the wrong side of town is the gritty subtext to the show’s other love story, that of tango itself.

Because this is what Tanguera, created by Diego Romay with choreographer Mora Godoy, is all about, a serenade to the dance dubbed “the vertical expression of a horizontal desire”.

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Valeria Ambrosio’s fantastic set sweeps us from grungy port to boudoir to the spontaneous milongas — or tango nights — that break out everywhere.

Tango is a fusion melding European waltzes, polkas and mazurkas with the beat of the African candombe, the habanera of Caribbean sailors, the Argentine milonga and the bandoneon’s concertina.

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It’s a good year to flaunt it, in the first ever tango musical that has wowed audiences around the world since it first burst onto the stage in 2002.

A century ago, sensual songs were first woven in and here we are treated to one of Argentina’s most acclaimed tango singers, Marianella.

With tango world champion Melody Celatti paired with Dabel Zanabria as the ‘star-cross’d lovers’, Tanguera delivers enough nifty footwork to make Strictly look rather less strict.

It’s a show to make you sway and tap your feet and fall in love — with the dance.

All that’s needed afterwards is the chance to express it at a milonga.

Tanguera runs until Sunday, August 6. Performances Tues-Sat 7.30pm, Sunday 2pm, 7pm, Saturday matinee 2.30pm, Wednesday August 2 at 2.30pm. Tickets: £12-£52, booking: 020-7863 8000 or Sadlers Wells online.

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