The dance world can sometimes take itself a little too seriously, it often seems to be too caught up in technical comparisons to just enjoy itself, however, Chicos Mambo is the opposite of that notion. Choreographer Phillip Lafeuille’s charm is in turning dance into comedy – a form we rarely see in dance shows beyond a small feature. Lafueille’s choreography is a real treat to audiences and he has thrown in some gems for the dance savvy – there is a reference to Matthew Bourne’s all-male
Wacky, colourful and educational for children whilst still being hugely entertaining and hilarious for adults.
TUTU celebrates the world of dance by poking light fun at the common tropes of many different dance styles. You have the dramatic contemporary dancers dressed head to toe in loose fitting grey clothes falling all over one another. There’s a nod to reality television dance competitions where the partners care more about outshining one another to get the most screen time. One of the show’s highlights is a purposely faulty pas de deux where the partnership squabble on stage – hilarious, trust me. In mocking the (all too accurate) elements of these dance styles, it really is celebrating Dance in All its Glory.
TUTU is a show that handles expectations. Or more accurately, makes a point of mocking those expectations. Like what you expect to see from the dance styles mentioned above. To a section that highlights what non-dancers expect of a dancer – cue memories of “oh, you’re a dancer, can you do the splits right now?”. But most importantly, the performance covers the topic of gender expectations. The all-male cast perform a concoction of pieces that show both masculine and feminine conceptions. The way that the dancers handle themselves with both immense strength but also grace and poise will have you questioning if there really is such a thing as dancing ‘like a girl’ or ‘like a boy’ – why shouldn’t a man perform a stunningly graceful pointe solo? Chicos Mambo masterfully toes the line between masculine and feminine with symbols often considered to represent the delicate graceful nature of ballet, the dancers show us tutus and pointe shoes with strength and power.
What is most divine is the clear collaboration between Corinne Petitpierre’s costumes and Lafeuille’s choreography – both have informed one another to make a beautifully textured piece further highlighting the motion. The costumes move alongside the performers’ bodies extending their gorgeous lines and making some captivating visuals. Dominique Mabileau’s lighting design also adds to this delectable vision, particularly effective at picking out specific body parts to draw the audience’s focus. The simple but exquisitely appealing production design enhances but does not distract from the immense talent of the dancers.
The performance is, of course, driven by the dancers with such zeal and charisma that leads you through the different scenes engaging you in their eccentricity. Certainly, these performers are not just fascinating actors but display an astounding quality of technique. They have strength, grace, energy, charisma, precision and faultless comic timing that makes the show incredibly enjoyable. TUTU is a brilliantly universal show – it is wacky, colourful and educational for children whilst still being hugely entertaining and hilarious for adults. Chicos Mambo were well deserving of the standing ovation they received from a very happy audience – a surprising gem of the Fringe.