Way back in February 2019, I attended a show at the Melba Spiegeltent called Matador. Skip forward to over three years later and the production has returned to Melbourne with a much improved and less conservative show called MATADOR la experiencia. Excitedly, I had chance to bare witness to this reimagined production at the Meat Market in North Melbourne.
Now, the general premise of the production is the same as it was back in 2019. A tale of forbidden love between a Bull and a sultry Matador, all told through the power and raw emotion of dance. And my god, do they dance! The full cast of fourteen stunning and sexy humans dance their absolute hearts out with styles ranging from ballet to contemporary, erotic to modern dance and all variations in between. All delivered in stunning costumes flawlessly with a spicy, sexy Spanish theme that flows through the entire show.
The biggest change to this production is the increase in available space. Whilst the Spiegeltent is quaint and intimate, MATADOR deserves more and that is exactly what they get with their new choice of venue. Not only to they have a much larger stage and performing space, but there is also more room for the audience too with cabaret style seating and a large set of tiered bleachers. We were lucky enough to be seated at the tables close to the stage and got prime position at the tip of the runway where all the aerial and pole sequences take place.
Honestly, the aerial performances are even better than I recall, and MATADOR has a lot of them! And whilst the show is predominately dance, we are treated to varied incredible displays of strength and bravery. There is a classic trapeze performance, two female performers sharing the one hoop and spinning around together, and there is even a hanging bedframe just after intermission. Aside from the boudoir performance, a clear highlight for me would have to be the pole number by Danny Golding. The sheer display of strength and grace during this performance left me awe stuck.
Every single performer has their own moment to shine and display their own special talents. Whether it be leading the troupe at the head of a dance number, going at it solo, or with a partner or two, or hanging 6ft in the air on a rope around your head, there is not a single moment of this show that left me sitting and waiting. MATADOR is full tilt from beginning to end and the more the crowd got into it with their cheering and clapping, the harder the cast performed.
Aside from all the death-defying aerials and high energy, sexually charged dance routines, the show has a lot of heart. Written, Directed and Produced by Bass G Fam, we are taken on a journey through varied states of emotion from lust to love, desire to heart break, and even questions of one’s sexuality. The main message I got from MATADOR is that it does not matter who you love, what you look like, what you identify as, or what others may think, you are free to love how and who you wish on your own terms. And with all the sexually charged energy in the performance, it is actually quite wholesome at times, and I really loved that.
Not only has the change in venue, the tweaks to the performance, and production severely improved MATADOR since the last time I saw it, but they’ve also added some pre-show entertainment with a wonderful singer, Stefania Serna, accompanied by a gent on keys. In addition, there is also a range of food and beverage options available. Upon entry to the Meat Market, we were greeted by a food cart style stall with some super tempting seafood or vegetarian paella on offer, complete with a large ice-cold cup of tasty sangria. There is also a full bar available and some additional hot food including chorizo rolls, croquettes, and churros. My favourite, however, was easily the delicious burnt top baked cheesecake – we even went back for seconds! I thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and overall vibe of the new MATADOR experience.
MATADOR really has come a long way in three years and every change or addition that has made to the production has improved the experience tenfold. I am extremely thankful I had the opportunity to witness this updated version of the show. I am floored by its existence, its evolution, and I cannot recommend this production enough! Take your partner or book a VIP table for five and take your friends. Whoever you decide to take, just make sure you see this show before it disappears again! You may not get another chance to see it.
MATADOR la experiencia is on now at the Meat Market venue in North Melbourne. With shows available up until Sunday, 8th of May. It might even be the perfect Mother’s Day gift!
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Photography by Ben Vella.