Tango Fire/Rosas – Early Works, Peacock Theatre, London/Sadler's Wells, London

Scintillating steps set the stage alight
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The Independent Culture

Tango shows often promise the history of tango, which tends to mean cheesy brothel scenes, gangsters and waifs getting off the boat in Buenos Aires. In their latest show, Flames of Desire, Tango Fire just dance, which is drama enough. Feet flick with cutting precision; dancers lean into the embrace, going from flirtation to abandon.

The format is simple. Five couples dance group numbers and duets. The music is performed live by the splendid quartet Quatrotango, sometimes joined by the soft-voiced singer Jesus Hidalgo. In the first half, the tangos are traditional, with 1940s styling in the hair and costumes. After the interval, we see more acrobatic tango showdances. Both are spectacular.

The five couples choreograph their own duets, showing off their distinctive styles. Yanina Fajar and her partner, Mariano Balois, make wonderful use of their hips: swung and tilted, with bold angles through the opened thigh. It gives their dancing a fierce, syncopated edge. They're perhaps the least gymnastic of these couples, and often the most exciting, with mercurial emotion in those knife-sharp steps.

German Cornejo sweeps the lightly built Carolina Giannini through spectacular lifts. He swings her to the floor and back again, horizontal and upright in a split second. One duet seemed to come to a demure finish – and then, on the last note, she leapt into his arms, legs scissoring on the last note of music.

Juan Malizia and Florencia Roldan have a flirty way with their acrobatics. Sebastian Alvarez and Victoria Saudelli have adagio act nimbleness; he swings her round his hips and shoulders like a Hula Hoop.

José Fernandez and Melody Celatti have particularly fine aerial steps, feet flicking from a raised knee, intricate and astonishingly fast. Their connection is so good that they can keep up a steady glide, regardless of whether Celatti's feet are on the floor: the flow never stops.

Two women dance in front of a white screen. As they move, looping through repeating patterns, their shadows overlap and separate. Like the dancers, and Steve Reich's score, the shadows move in and out of sync.

Sadler's Wells's celebration of the work of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker and her company, Rosas, opened with Fase, Four Movements to the Music of Steve Reich and concentrated on her breakthrough works of the 1980s. Born in Belgium, De Keersmaeker established a minimalist, influential style of choreography.

De Keersmaeker herself performed in this programme. Dressed in plain grey dresses and white sneakers, she and Tale Dolven step and turn to Reich's Piano Phase. It's hard to pinpoint the moment where their unison movements separate, one turning very slightly faster.

The intense repetitions are hypnotic until your mind wanders. As far as humanly possible, this choreography turns performers into patterns. The intricacy is remarkable, a feat of memory, but there's no flash of virtuosity in the dancing.

To 23 April (0844 412 4322) Tour dates from www.tango-fire.com