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CULTURE | 30-10-2023 15:01

Malambo: Argentine dance from the pampas goes global

While fighting to gain a foothold domestically, the malambo – a dance from Pampas folklore – is becoming known internationally.

While fighting to gain a foothold in the Argentine scene, the malambo, a dance from Pampas folklore, is becoming known internationally due perhaps its most emblematic group, Malevo.

“In Argentina it’s very complicated to have theatre performances due to the current economic situation. It’s difficult to present our show, and we do it almost exclusively in private events.

“It’s on our to-do list in this country. It seems we have to present it abroad and come back at some point," said Gustavo Matías Jaime, the director and creator of the group in London, one of the stops of the tour.

The tour started in Russia in September  – taking in Vladivostok, Moscow and Yekaterinburg – and then moving on to Saudi Arabia and Riyadh before ending its first leg in London next week.

Next is a stop in India and a break, to then move on between January and March to Australia, taking in the Sydney Opera House and State Theatre in Melbourne, followed by another 22 cities in the United States and Canada.

Jaime decided to create the Malevo group in 2015 to fill “a need to work on what I love the most, which is malambo.”

“Until we arrived it wasn’t considered a viable job for professional dancers,” he explains.

A year after its creation, the group received the prestigious Marca país label in recognition of its promotion of Argentine culture around the world.

Between March 2019 and January 2020 Malevo worked in Japan, until the Covid pandemic hit.

Now the group’s members, almost 20 all together with their bass drums and bolas, are in London to perform at the Peacock Theatre.

"Malambo is a native Argentine dance from La Pampa, a challenge between gauchos to see who was the most skillful, who did the movements the best to win the contest,” explained the art director and founder of the group.

Jaime started “with malambo as a little kid” and in 2015 he called on friends and dancers to “get started”.

The choreographer and dancer, who has collaborated with Ricky Martín and Cirque du Soleil, then started to post videos of the dance online and received calls from producers. 

“That’s when it all started,” he recalls.

Practically all the members are from Buenos Aires Province, except for two dancers from Formosa and Santiago del Estero respectively.

"Malambo is a very coarse dance. It’s similar to flamenco. It shows our soul, who we are. We dream about the world getting to know malambo. A long time ago I dreamt about performing this show here in London,” said Jaime.

“It’s the discovery of a very important part of Argentina, like tango. It’s a part of Argentine folklore. We try to include that historic part within modernity, because we are young people who love the roots of our country. I believe we are managing to pursue that path. Little by little, the audience is feeling what malambo is about,” he added.

Yet Jaime is left with the disappointment that this path they seem to be travelling outside Argentina to showcase this dance cannot draw a parallel in his homeland.

“They’re fond of us in our country for taking Argentine roots to the world. Malambo has achieved a value it didn’t use to have and it has more of a reputation, but the [economic] situation in our country makes it difficult to have a show. 

“We’ve already tried. It went wrong and we were even conned by a producer once. It’s difficult, but I don’t lose hope of being able to do it,” he observed.

“The few times we were able to present the show in Argentina, it was a success. People feel the same heat we feel on stage, although we’re always abroad,” he concluded.

 

--TIMES/AFP

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