Dancing with Passion
Tango is not a dance you can master in a week, a month or even a year. It is an art-form Germán Cornejo of Tango Fire has fiercely embraced since learning it at the tender age of 10, and is one he now stalks and glides across the globe displaying.
As the lights dim and the red curtains unfold, Germán Cornejo and his Tango Fire troupe stand centre stage, chest-to-chest in true tango form. Widely acclaimed as a global phenomenon, these amazingly talented dancers are born and bred Argentinian Tango maestros. With switchblade footwork and intoxicating struts The Tango Fire Company of Buenos Aires has sold out performances from the United States to Asia and has a whopping YouTube audience of over 19 million.
Conceived in 2005 by international tango superstar and world tango champion Germán Cornejo, the show breathes life to the dance form’s spellbinding history in a vintage-flavoured 100 minutes filled with flames of desire.
After a gruelling full-day rehearsal from early morning till 10:00pm in the evening, I gave Germán a call and had a chat with him about his artistic approach, his performance with Jennifer Lopez and his passionate love for tango.
profile: You’ve been dancing all your life, how did you form your love for tango?
germán: When I was very young, my grandparents and parents danced at home. When I was 10 years old, we would listen to a soft and passionate style of music called bolero and I would mimic the tango steps with the bolero music thinking that it was in fact tango music. My Mum then took me to a tango dancing school – that was my first true introduction to the dance.
profile: You’ve had such great success as a dancer; however in Tango Fire you take on the role of choreographer as well. What inspired you to become a director?
germán: I enjoy creating new steps, new combinations and new moves. I have a lot of new stories to tell. I really like introducing the audience to different kinds of emotions, whether it be love, sadness, passion or jealousy. With the tango you have the ability to move without words. It is a dance that you can mix situations of your daily life with.
profile: Do you envision a piece of work or are you first inspired by music to create your moves?
germán: I usually have an idea I want to show to the audience; however, now I work very closely with the music because I want to choose the right music for the story that I want to tell. I am inspired by music and when I hear certain pieces I remember different moments of my life and connect to different situations.
profile: Tell us about the birth of Tango Fire – what was the inspiration behind the show’s creation?
germán: Tango Fire is a show that showcases the history of tango. It shows the audience the different eras of tango, from the 40s to the naughties. The tango is about a mix of cultures and Tango Fire is about immigrants arriving from different countries to Argentina. The show also exposes more lyrical and contemporary aspects of tango. The first part of the show is much more traditional and we travel between the classical stories of tango. In the second part of the show we work with stories more lyrical and more modern.
profile: Individual couples are said to choreograph their own solos in Tango Fire. Can you tell us about this freestyle approach and how it adds to the show’s nature?
germán: The approach allows us to show different forms of tango. Each of the couples has a different style. One couple is very modern, another is classical and another is sweet. Each different style takes the show in a different direction. At the same time each couple can converse in the same style we do as a group. It’s a quality that not all tango dancers have. The tango dance is something very individual. The solos allow the show to be a bit more different.
profile: What is your favourite piece to perform in the show and why?
germán: Both of my solos are a favourite for me. The first one is strong, warm, classical and sharp, with a lot of footwork. It’s very sensual and intimate. The second one is a duet called the SuSu and it includes a lot of different techniques. We put more of our dancing background into this piece. It has very rich movements and positions and is very romantic and slow but at the same time strong – strong not because of the music, but because of the connection we have as dancers. It’s very beautiful to perform.
profile: Tango is a sensual and intimate dance that communicates such raw passion. How important is it to find a dancing partner that you can showcase such chemistry with in your performances?
germán: It is something very, very important. It’s about the communication with another person. You’re dancing with a different body – you need to feel, connect and understand. It’s something very fragile. You have your chest on your partner’s body and they are breathing in your ear as you are dancing, so it’s something very intimate. For me, the chemistry and communication in tango is very important.
profile: You’ve had the opportunity to perform to crowds all around the globe. What’s the best part about performing overseas and sharing your art with new people?
germán: You feel the difference between cultures. There is something different from each culture and people don’t react in the same way. In the United States, people go crazy and there is a lot of screaming. In Asia, they have a lot of culture and a specific point of view but there is also a lot of respect. In order for them to give you their love, they are all respectful in different ways.
profile: What’s been one of your greatest memories in your career so far?
germán: Our performance with Jennifer Lopez in Argentina. It was her first concert ever in Argentina and we performed with her. The experience was great because people from our country were seeing us performing with her and the audience just loved it. It was really amazing. The context was very bizarre – us performing in our country with a star in pop culture. You wouldn’t really put her music and our dancing together so the audience didn’t expect it, but they loved it and thought it was amazing.
profile: You’ll be heading to Australia in August to perform Tango Fire. What can we expect?
germán: We expect that people will enjoy the show because we work hard to create something very particular and very special. As we showcase the 40s right through to the naughties I hope that the audience enjoys each part with the flavour of each era. I also hope that more people will get involved in the tango. It’s something really beautiful. It’s a dance that allows you to be you. It’s a special dance. It’s not about age, it’s not about shape, it’s not about skill. It’s something that allows you to be you, without any labels.
Visit www.qpac.com.au now to purchase tickets to see Germán Cornejo’s Tango Fire t the Queensland Performing Arts Centre this August.