Updated: Monday, 10th December 2018 @ 4:16pm

Review: Tango Moderno @ Opera House, Manchester

Review: Tango Moderno @ Opera House, Manchester

| By Faye Brown

You don’t have to be a Strictly super fan to have high expectations for Tango Moderno, a dance spectacle meets love story now showing at the Manchester Opera House.

The performance fronts Vincent Simone and Flavia Cacace – the dance duo who became household names on Strictly Come Dancing, but are also tango world champions and West End superstars in their own right.

Sadly the show is something of a misnomer, featuring little of the main dancers or any tango at all.

We were informed upon arrival that Simone would not be performing due to an injury. This was disappointing but the show must go on and his fill-ins did a good job at entertaining during the rare moments they graced the stage.

What really let Tango Moderno down was the concept which, unlike previous productions from the world famous dance partners (Midnight Tango and The Last Tango) just didn’t work.

Billed as a ‘Tango For Today’, the show combines a mishmash of dance styles from salsa and ballroom to classic Argentine Tango. To the untrained eye these genres seem fairly interchangeable, but it doesn’t take an expert to notice that other dance forms don’t blend well with the sultry style of tango.

Random bursts of amateur hip hop failed to impress – not least because the outfits they were performed in looked like something you’d find on the shelves in Primark.

That isn’t meant to sound like a snob, but anyone used to the glitz and glamour of suits and ball gowns on would be disappointed by the jeans and jumper combo most of the dancers were dressed in.

Nevertheless, the dancing was supported by a satisfactory choice of chart-toppers that had potential to work, including Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You and Sam Smith’s Lay Me Down. 

However, the storyline was somewhat reductive, and with it, the choreography.

MISMASH: Not every number hit the spot

Cacace plays the role of Cupid and weaves through the show infrequently to match-make unlucky in love millennials with some sort of aphrodisiac fairy dust.

This is narrated by the corny but likeable narrator Tony Parsons, who does his very best to tell us what is going on through interjections of poetry which, though well performed, were banal in substance.

While some scenes were fun to watch, including a tango take on finding love on Tinder, others were either shallow or difficult to interpret.

One dance number, featuring scantily clad women as cleaners and men as DIY guys and gardeners, was not very moderno whatsoever and seemed totally out of sync with the rest of the show.

Tango is over 150 years old and it makes sense that its propagators would try to modernise the art form. Yet, in doing so Tango Moderno fell victim to the over-used tropes and clichés often pinned on millennials in popular culture.

The beauty of tango lies in its sensuality and intimacy – something at odds with society’s general perception of young people (who are too addicted to our smart phones to form genuine relationships, apparently).

This meant that there was very little traditional tango in the show whatsoever, as romantic routines were substituted with trivial numbers like Bla Bla Bla Cha Cha Cha, an unimaginative foxtrot featuring an ensemble of dancers too glued to their phones to notice each other.

This was a shame because when classic Argentine routines did hit the stage they were simply dazzling and Cacace was stunning in every performance she gave.

Sadly the performances she gave were outnumbered by lackluster dances which did nothing to show off the rest of the cast’s full potential.

Ex-Strictly judge Len Goodman once told a contestant “You dance like I cook; chuck it all in and hope for the best.”

This seems to have happened with Tango Moderno – the best being disappointingly average. 

*Tango Moderno is showing at Opera House, Manchester until Saturday, October 21. You can buy tickets HERE.