Che Malambo Review – Power and Panache


With bearing part flamenco dancer and part stallion, the male troupe of 13 Argentinian dancers called Che Malambo stunned and dazzled in their North American world debut.  



Testosterone has seemingly never been called to a higher purpose.



The stage oozed with male energy as the dancers created thundering rhythms-- whether dancing solo,



with large bombo drums,




as dueling zapateados (gaucho-inspired tap dancing) or in ensemble,



or with swinging nanduceras (South American lassos).



It was a sight to behold and hear.   Each set was a series of rhythmic climaxes.  It’s difficult to imagine someone watching them without blood and spirit stirring.   If drumming is thought of as a display of primal instincts this goes back one step further. We saw rhythmic energy raw and vital, with lighting exactly right to keep the spectacular in total view.  Percussion from clapping, drums, feet and lassos, were lending us an imagined window to a rugged horseman’s soul.



Malambo, after tango, is the dance of Argentina and takes from the tradition of pampas gauchos.  This performance was brought to Chicago by the Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “Global Rhythms” performances.


Rhythm it is!




Ever changing and building to one crescendo after another.  Just when you think you’ve seen the pinnacle performance, one even more spectacular follows. 


Even the ensemble clapping was full-tilt dramatic.



If there was any drawback to the performance it was that Chicago’s wonderful Mexican Dance Ensemble, which provided a lovely opening, was so much outgunned by what followed.  It is wonderful to see authentic Mexican dance performed without flaw by a group that is native to Chicago.    Che Malambo may not perform here too often after tonight but definitely keep your ears and eyes open for La Huasteca Veracruzana gracing Chicago’s stages.


Thanks goes to the Chicago Human Rhythm Project for expanding our experience of percussive dance to new boundaries.  Lane Alexander, founder and director of Chicago’s Human Rhythm Project, in his introduction explained that their group is now also giving classes. 


Visit the Chicago Human Rhythm Project website for more information on their performances and class offerings.  



Photos: Jacy Roussel

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