Electrifying rhythm, dance, drums and more, Argentina’s Malevo is mesmerising machismo.
13 artistes extraordinaire and a four-piece band hold the audience in the palms of their hands for 80 minutes.
Created by director, choreographer and dancer Matias Jaime in 2015, the all-male group specialises in what is known as Malambo.
Photos by Jordan Munns
That is a traditional Argentinian folk dance of great virility and dexterity, performed by Gauchos, who flourished from the mid 18th to the mid 19th centuries.
They were nomadic and colourful horsemen in the vast grasslands of South America, who attained folk hero status.
Jaime and the company have reconceived Malambo and fused it with other styles, including Flamenco.
Having toured the world – and just minutes in you can understand why – Malevo was named an official cultural ambassador to the national identity of Argentina.
Talk about a decent workout. Both the performers and the audience are left breathless.
Malevo is all about nonstop thrills. It is intoxicating.
We are introduced to the 13 as they take to the stage topless, wearing tight black pants and black boots.
They carry with them bass drums and drumsticks.
In formation – including four, five, four – and in total control, they beat the drums and click the sticks at a frenetic pace, always in sync.
They even move to the front of the stage – side by side – in one long line. It reminded me of the Irish dance sensation Riverdance in its prime.
The applause is rightfully off the scale.
Ditching the drums, these fit artisans of tempo, introduce stomping, whip cracking and, notably, the boleadoras.
That was a hunting tool used by Gauchos to bring down animals.
On stage, it consists of a short cord with a weighted ball on the end.
The exponents hold two of them at a time, which they rotate at lightning speed, creating whirring sounds. It is magnificent to watch.
The band – consisting of electric violinist, drummer, guitarist and squeeze box aficionado – also has its time to shine, which it does.
In fact, all of Malevo is jaw dropping. My hands became sore from clapping. The outpouring of love in the room is palpable.
Malevo is exuberance personified. It is sexy and seductive, and is playing at State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne until 28th January, 2024.