Argentinian dance troupe Malevo bring their unique contemporary interpretation of the traditional folk dance Malambo to the Sydney Opera House. Meaning renegade or outlaw, Malevo combines facets of other dance styles like flamenco with Malambo, all set to the intoxicating rhythm of drums, guitar, violin and bandoneon (concertina).
The Malambo is traditionally performed by Gauchos within the Pampas region. In folklore, a Gaucho is a skilled horseman with a reputation of being brave and unruly, and it is said that these men would perform the Malambo as a competitive show of skill against other men. Either solo or in groups, men would combine elaborate leg movements with energetic zapateados (stomping) and cepillados (‘brushing/scrubbing’).
Artistic Director, choreographer and founder Matías Jaime has created a stunning performance, combining complicated footwork with the use of whips and boleadoras, a hunting tool used by Gauchos. It is the use of the boleadoras which is particularly impressive, with the men able to move at high speed and with overwhelming skill, you are left wondering just how they can achieve such a feat.
The pace of the performance has a beautiful rhythm to it, with intense, high-energy numbers balanced against slower-paced, solo dance routines. One could argue this is to give the group a chance for a break, but it also served as an opportunity for the audience to catch their breath. At points, there would be only two or three men dancing on stage, chests pushed out, bravado on display as they circled each other. This perfectly depicted the history of the Malambo and the cultural significance which the performance is honouring.
The energy and charisma which pulsates from the stage is intoxicating. Not only are these men insanely talented, but they obviously love what they do. It is clear that for them, this is not simply a performance or a job – it’s a way of life. Malevo are bringing their culture to other countries and opening people’s minds to different traditions. It takes a certain amount of vulnerability to achieve this, and in this sense, they truly embody the Gauchos their performance emulates.
Malevo is engaging, energetic and uplifting. You will be enthralled and completely, utterly and totally entertained.
Juan Carlos Acosta
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Malevo plays at the Concert Hall, Sydney Opera House until 21 January 2024.
For more information and to purchase tickets head to the Sydney Opera House website.
Reviewer attended on 17 January 2024.
Photos: Jordan Munns