Nicola Harvey is swept away by an enchanting evening of dance with Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace
What an absolutely glorious treat for a gloomy January evening!
I arrived for Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace’s show, Tango Moderno, with a very limited vision of what to expect. I knew, of course, there would be great dancing – it was highly unlikely that the World Champion and ex-Strictly dancers would disappoint on that front. However, what I couldn’t have expected was the feast of music and dance that lay ahead for my friend and me.
I have to lay my cards on the table here; I’ve limited technical dance knowledge beyond what I’ve gleaned from reading Ballet Shoes as a child, watching Strictly and a smattering or other dance in musicals and on the telly. Luckily, my friend is both a performer and lover of all kinds of dance. She assured me that yes, the dancing was technically and artistically exquisite. But, to be honest, it didn’t need an expert eye to know that this was dance of the highest order.
The set was intriguing from the outset and allowed 12 dancers to make a stage that isn’t enormous feel just right. And boy, were those dancers great. It is to Flavia and Vincent’s credit that they both shone in their own sections but also allowed their wonderful supporting dance troupe to grab the spotlight in their own right. Each dancer clearly had their own particular strengths, which were perfectly showcased, while also impressing across a range of other styles too. It can’t be easy to switch for beautiful ballet moves and lines, to hip hop and then to contemporary dance.
Flavia and Vincent are the absolute masters of the art of the Argentine tango and this most dramatic of dances was woven cleverly through the performance. My friend and I were mesmerised (overused word but pretty accurate here) by the way the movement of limbs told the story of this dance and it was wonderful to see live one of the most exciting dances on Strictly. However, there was so much more to this show than tango. There was a loose theme of love and relationships, and characters whose stories unfolded through the show.
The dances were linked by narration (think Blood Brothers style but less gloomy!) by the excellent Tom Parsons, who was also one of the singers who performed a huge range of current and classic hits throughout the show. The just visible band were excellent and the violinist (Oliver Lewis) would have earnt a standing ovation just for his performance in the finale (no surprise at all to discover he not only performs concertos with world leading orchestras, but is comfortable in a large range of styles).
What I loved about the dance was that there were so many styles within the choreography by Karen Bruce, Vincent and Flavia, from ballet to hip hop and through most of the ballroom and Latin dances we all know from Strictly. This could easily have become either a tedious lesson in dance or an overwhelmingly busy and incoherent set of performances, but instead, I was gripped by the production. There were some standout dances; I found the last contemporary dance style number and of course, Vincent and Flavia’s tango finale particularly moved me.
Honestly, as much as I love Strictly, as much as I love music and as much as I enjoy dance as part of a musical, would I ever have imagined that I would enjoy a show where the dance is the main event as much as I did Tango Moderno? Never! But I was amongst the first to my feet in the well deserved ovation at the end. I would thoroughly recommend the show to anyone, whether or not you think you love dance.
I left having caught more than a little of its magic. Now…to google dance schools…
Tango Moderno runs at the Theatre Royal Bath until 3 February.