Arts and Entertainment

Che Malambo steps up its gaucho-inspired fancy footwork March 15 at Eisenhower

Che Malambo, a powerhouse all-male Argentinian dance company, will excite audiences with its percussive dance and music spectacle at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, in Eisenhower Auditorium. Credit: © Diane SmithersAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Argentina’s Che Malambo will represent aspects of South American gaucho (cowboy) culture in a live performance of dance and percussion at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 15, in Eisenhower Auditorium.

French choreographer Gilles Brinas founded Che Malambo in 2005 after falling under the spell of malambo, a centuries-old contest-dance style. His all-male troupe modernizes the South American tradition of the dance-infused machismo showmanship with percussive techniques and rapid-fire zapeto (fast footwork inspired by galloping horses).

“The malambo was practiced as a kind of rhythmic duel,” Brinas said. “One performance danced a rhythmic sequence, which was taken up by the other who completed it before it was taken up again by the first, who extended it even further.”

Watch a preview of Che Malambo. Credit: Che Malambo Live

In addition to Che Malambo’s foot-stomping feats of strength, the production highlights the spectacle surrounding a malambo dancer’s use of bombos (drums) and boleadoras (leather straps tied with small rocks on the end).

A New York Times critic reveled in the dancers’ expertise, praising “the pawing, galloping footwork and legwork, which often accelerate into a swiveling blur of motion below the waist; the astoundingly elastic ankles that support balancing, improbably, on the outside edges of the feet; the speed with which the dancers, their chests held proud and legs darting out from under them, can swallow up space.”

“Che Malambo is a performance brimming with passion, commitment and talent,” wrote a reviewer for “It is truly outstanding — a must for anyone interested in rhythm and dance.”

Artistic Viewpoints, an informal moderated discussion featuring a visiting artist or artists, is offered in Eisenhower one hour before the performance and is free for ticket holders. Artistic Viewpoints regularly fills to capacity, so seating is available on a first-arrival basis.

For more information, visit the Center for the Performing Arts online, or call 814-863-0255.

The Passionate Supporters of Dance sponsor the performance. Penn State International Dance Ensemble Endowment provides support.

This presentation is part of the Center for the Performing Arts Diversity and Inclusion Collaborative, which seeks to: immerse an array of people in the performing arts; educate the community about cultures and art forms different from the familiar; influence thinking so we become a community that embraces diversity and promotes inclusion; and ensure the activities of the collaborative have a sustainable impact on the community. Funds from across Penn State and throughout the community support the initiative. The University’s Equal Opportunity Planning Committee provides lead funding. Sandra Zaremba and Richard Brown provide support. For more information, visit diversity and inclusion.

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Che Malambo dancers are experts on whirling boledoras, a traditional gaucho weapon made of leather straps tied at the end with weighted stones. Credit: © Diane SmithersAll Rights Reserved.

Last Updated February 15, 2018