Che Malambo, the refined dance of the Argentine cowboy
They are the masters of the Argentine Malambo: the masculine dance that is percussive while uniting speed, passion and precision. The Che Malambo Dance Company presents a distant folklore that is vibrant on stage today.
Imagine Canadian or Irish step dancing, but with 14 men, all dressed in dark costumes, tapping out their rhythms on the parquet floor. From the start to the end of their performances, the dancers give their all to bring the Malambo, the cowboy dance with head held high and a determined look, to life. The dancers often duel with one another, answering the steps of the other with enhanced enthusiasm. The competition is one where male bodies measure up to one another in the delight of the dance: the Malambo, a celebration of the body in search of excellence and spiritual elevation.
The Argentine Pampas is the central region of the country, a meeting point of traditional and modern ways, where the spirit of the gaucho continues to reign. These Argentine horsemen have always danced the Malambo to the pulsing beat of the Bombo drums that mimic the hoofbeats of galloping horses.
The Che Malambo Dance Company gives this rustic dance a contemporary look and feel. The company has won the astonished applause of audiences throughout the world.
As French choreographer Gilles Brinas said to journalist Emma Bergounioux, “Che Malambo is a crazy project: the improbable conjunction of this unique folklore with foreign audiences who know nothing about this specific, sensitive subject.”
Stripping and Sensuality
A dance that was once banned because it was deemed indecent, the Malambo gives off a certain sensuality: that of the body in a state of grace and permeability, that beguiles and prompts admiration.
The company’s music is generated by the drums, the cowboy lassoes or directly by the contact of the boots hitting the wooden floor: an organic percussion to which the dancers often add their voices, in primitive and passionate chants.
There is little hoopla in this animalistic and visceral dance. The dance is performed on a pared-down stage with discreet lighting. What counts is the precision and intensity of the movement.
Regularly applauded by audiences from Paris to New York, where they received rave reviews, the dancers of Che Malambo master the two main styles of Malambo: El Norteno, practised in the north and characterized by agility, and El Sureno, from the south and associated with strength. Both require superior concentration and a deep communion with spirituality.
IN TWO CLICKS
In the third minute of the news on France 24, a report gave voice to the Che Malambo choreographer and dancers, who are experiencing growing admiration from French audiences.
To learn more on the heritage of Malambo and the genesis of the show directed by Gilles Brinas, this short documentary shot in the Pampas region is a must.