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The saying goes, ‘salsa is like having sex, the tango is like having a relationship.’ The problem with both, of course, is finding the right partner.


Ines Cuesta, of dance company Estamas Portenas, has danced professionally with her husband for ten years. I’m speaking to Cuesta, who is down the line in her native Buenos Aires, ahead of the company’s Australian tour next month. She says simply, ‘the tango is our life’. And what a life it must be: when asked to describe the feeling of tango Ines says, ‘there is passion, love, romanticism.’


The tango is a dance form that grew from the nightclubs ‘ known as Milonga ‘ of Buenos Aires, and evolved into various different forms as it spread all over the world. It is a largely improvised dance, with no set formations, so very close contact and non-verbal communication between partners is required ‘ hence the tango’s reputation as a very intense form of partnered dance.


In Argentina, tango remains a social experience as well as an art form, and is not just the domain of trained artists. ‘Many people who aren’t professional dancers, people who work in an office or shop, maybe, go to the nightclubs,’ says Ines, ‘to listen or to dance.’


Estampas Portenas is a company of five couples. As well as traditional tango, their current production Tango Fire incorporates some modern tango dances, which Ines describes as having ‘lots of lifts, whereas (traditional tango) is always on the floor. And there is some ballet influence, but still very sensual, very romantic.’


The music of tango is as important as the dancing, and the couples will be accompanied by a quartet comprised of a pianist, double bassist, violinist, and bandoneonist (the bandoneon is similar to the accordion and concertina). A singer will also join them. Ines describes the group dynamic as ‘very complete. We are all together on stage.’


There will be a special Milonga held before the some of the performances, giving guests a chance to experience the tango for themselves. ‘We love to work outside Argentina, and always, we like to offer to the audience a little tango,’ she explains.


Tango Fire

Theatre Royal, 108 King St

July 1-6


Bookings: 1300 795 012 or