Circus review: MATADOR la experiencia

A fire-red fusion of dance, music and circus.

Roll up, roll up, there’s a new show in town … a circus of sensual dancing, dazzling costumes and electric audio visuals, MATADOR la experiencia. Critically acclaimed at Adelaide Fringe in 2021, the show has come to North Melbourne’s funky Meat Market and promises to immerse audiences in passion and drama.

Directed and produced by Bass G Fam, MATADOR did not fail to entertain with its jaw-dropping aerial and commercial dance acts, live DJ, and extravagant costumes and scenery. 

The plot of the performance centred on a Latin love tryst of stereotypical proportions. Much bravado was on display as a muscular, semi-clad bull (Christopher Politis) who vied for the attention of the crystal and lace lingerie wearing female protagonist (Tayla Lemon). 

The dress code was definitely boudoir and the dancing was skilled and erotic, moving from salsa, to tango, to burlesque, to flamenco with hardly a pause between. Bass G Fam himself designed the costumes, which were various and sumptuous, from sparkling lingerie to patent leather boots, and corsets worn by all genders of dancers.

A display of intense emotion was made in every dance, from anger, to jealousy, to passion. There were no mild moments, and the show was a feverish excitement fest, where the performers fully immersed and engaged with the audience throughout.

It was great to see diverse love stories woven into the narrative, with same-sex desire well represented. However, I felt the overt machismo and commercial elements of the show are not for all.

Read: Concert review: To Barbra, With Love!

The choreography was faultlessly precise and extremely athletic; a real testimony to the dancers’ commitment in rehearsals. There were many dancers worthy of mention (if not all), such as the male dancer who pole danced in a G-string and leather boots, spinning in gravity and ligament-defying air splits. The charisma and campness of these dancers was an exciting change from the frankly clichéd machismo of the major plotline.  

The choreographers Gerard Pigg, for the commercial dances, and Josephine Magiolo for the contemporary styles, deserve a mention for the wonderful job they did at creating sequences to gorgeously accentuate the fast-paced music and impress the eye.

The live music by Colombian-born Stefania Serna and her musicians made the show. Of clear Latin origin with deep, sensual tones and euphoria-induced attitudes, the music blended well to each dance and real thought was put into it. It was full of expression, and registered well with the audience.

It was nostalgic, relatable, blended with commercial pop hits by Rihanna and Arianna Grande piercing through each love sequence, all while staying true to Spanish themes. The bar and tapas part of the immersive experience was perhaps a little less interesting than expected, but the show itself was thrilling. 

MATADOR la experiencia
Meat Market, North Melbourne
Tickets: $82 – $143

MATADOR la experiencia will be performed until 8 May 2022

Leila Lois is a dancer and writer of Kurdish and Celtic heritage. Her poetry, essays and reviews have been published in Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada by Southerly Journal, LA Review of Books, Honey Literary Journal, Right Now, Delving Into Dance and more.