From the second I took my seat at the Lucas Theater last Friday evening, up through the moment I rose to give a standing ovation, the venue’s seats vibrated from the powerful stomps and strength of Che Malambo, the world-renowned troupe of all-male Argentinian performers.
This year’s Savannah Music Festival kicked off on Mar. 23 and brought fresh music throughout its two-week run, offering diverse mediums of sound and rhythm. Che Malambo produced an incredible range of beats, as the very definition of Malambo translates to “a dynamic blend of precision footwork, rhythmic stomping, drumming and song.” Che Mambo is rooted in the soul of South American cowboy tradition.
The performers maintained a lively pace during the two-hour long performance and by the show’s end, they shook their damp hair like sprinklers. Divided into two acts, the percussion-based content prompted skepticism from some patrons during intermission: after such a mighty introduction in front of an interchanging red and blue backdrop, would the second act be nothing more than an extension of the first?
I stayed of course, because I was caught up in the trance of Argentinian men with long black hair striding back and forth across the stage. The energy continued to build without a hint of exhaustion, only the undeniable look of bliss on the performers’ faces.
For those who didn’t stay for the second half, they missed out on some of the show’s most incredible moments, including three troupe members interacting with the audience for “Georgia on my Mind.” This number cultivated in a remarkable display of physical fortitude with a dance so vigorous, the remaining audience couldn’t help but sweat from watching.
The collective beauty in this ensemble was not in the precision of their steps but in their rhythmic sync, their balanced, shared efforts of grace and strength rooted in their uncanny footwork.
Each round of steps and leg-based motions formed an unspoken song complimented by at least one, if not several drummers’ direction. With their feet, drums and sporadic chants, the performers of Che Malambo communicated.