Tango Fire – Germán & Gisela

Wonderful Interview: Germán Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi

Tango Fire has been dazzling audiences in London with their sizzling hot tango straight from Buenos Aires. Germán Cornejo is the lead male dancer and director of choreography of the Argentinian dance company Tango Fire and Gisela Galeassi is the lead female dancer.

Tango Fire is performing Flames of Desire until Saturday 14 February. Germán and Gisela will return to London in June with M¡longa, a creation by prolific contemporary dance choreographer Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.

We asked Germán about his experience…

You’ve had great success as both a dancer and choreographer. Which do you prefer and why?

I enjoy both incredibly and equally because of the marvelous sensation of freedom that they bring me.

For example, when I’m on stage in the role of dancer I love feeling the strong connection that I have with Gisela – one submitting to the other in the hope of becoming one unified body on stage; the music resonating inside me, guiding my respiratory rhythm; and the reactions of the theatre’s crowds.

On the other hand, as a choreographer, the ecstasy I feel putting forward new ideas and bringing them to life on stage is incomparable. Seeing how the dancers evolve over the course of the creative process motivates me to continue exploring more and more in the composition of new pieces, searching for new paths.

Can you describe your choreographic approach, is it the music that inspires your choreography or a vision of how the piece will work? 

I’m usually motivated by one of the following things when starting to sketch out a new choreography – a musical inspiration or a concrete idea.

If I begin with the music it’s because it generates a particular idea for me (a story, or just a specific emotion), providing the footing for the development. If on the other hand I begin with a particular dance idea, I look for the music that I feel must have been created for that piece of dance; and if I can’t find it, I compose it along with the musical director.

How long did it take to put Tango Fire together?

The show has changed over the course of the years, which means that the whole process has been quite long; but, for example, each time we incorporate a new choreography into the show the work is intensive – to have it up and running to perfection it takes us about 20 or 30 days of continuous rehearsal.

Tango Fire Oblivion
Tango Fire Oblivion

Tango seems much more intimate than other dance forms. Can you explain to us why that is? 

Tango was born in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, from a mix of the cultural idiosyncrasies that came as a result of immigration to Argentina. At first, it was exclusively a dance for the lower social classes – confined to the red light districts of the city and considered too obscene and racy for respectable society. A large part of the sensuality of tango is related to the diversity of our Argentinian culture and origins.

Tango Fire partners Germán and Gisela share their thoughts:

Why was tango the dance for you?

Gisela: The thing that attracted me the most to tango was the intimate connection between the two partners. The coordination and the sensuality. Tango is an incredibly magical dance.

Germán: Because of the artistic, creative and communicative possibilities it allowed me. Once I came across tango there was no leaving it.

What is your favorite piece to perform in the show and why?

Gisela: It would without a doubt be SuSu, the second duet. It is the piece that I get the most out of – the music and the dance flow so well together.

Germán: One on hand, I very much enjoy the group piece La Cumparsita, because the choreography is very rich in movement and maintains the classicism of the dance. Out of my duets with Gisela I might say that SuSu is my favorite, because adagio dynamic of the dance, the subtlety and sensuality of the piece, but most of all because of the magical connection between Gisela and me on stage.

The Susu duet is breathtaking in its speed, difficulty (those lifts!!) and fluidity. What was the most difficult movement or steps to learn? 

Gisela: Personally, the most complex thing about SuSu is managing the changes in dynamics. It’s a piece in which the energy levels go up and down a lot, and learning to respect those peculiarities in the music can be challenging.

Germán: I think that the most complicated thing was to achieve exactly the right level of balance and dissociation between Gisela and me. Something in between surrender and coordination, in order to not lose the emotional connection over the course of the piece, and maintain the right bodily relationship to be able to perform every movement perfectly. This allows us to fully enjoy the piece night after night and be ourselves on stage, without any masks. All very challenging!

Germán Cornejo and Gisela Galeassi

The costumes are stunning, and you change several times throughout the show, what do you most like dancing in?

Gisela: My favorite dress is the one in La Cumparsita – black, classic, very solemn and very typically “tango”. I love it.

Germán: My favorites are the outfits for Oblivion – because they create a magical atmosphere which enriches the piece – and La Cumparsita – because they perfectly represent the sobriety, elegance and classicism that are so characteristic of tango.

Where is your favorite place to perform and why?

Gisela: The London crowd is great. Respectful and effusive. It’s an audience accustomed to a huge offering of shows – and that’s why their applause is doubly valuable for us!

Germán: I would say London, New York, Tokyo and Sydney – being cosmopolitan cities, the audiences at shows are always multicultural and eclectic.

Lastly, you’ve both achieved so much in your careers. What do you hope to be able to do next?

Gisela: My ambition for the future is to continue taking tango to new corners of the world…

Germán: This year, once the Tango Fire tour is over, we’ll be preparing for a show called M¡longa – an edgy, contemporary take on tango, created by Sidi Larbi Cherkoui – which will be in London in June. And, in general, we hope to keep growing together artistically, enjoying hand-in-hand as we’ve done until now, and pouring our hearts out in those three minutes during which our bodies melt together into one.

Get your tickets to Tango Fire until 14 Feb at Sadler’s Wells.

by Savannah Saunders