Director: Miguel A Iglesias
Reviewer: Barbara Michaels
If you are expecting salsa and samba rhythms á la Strictly – forget it. But hot, hot, hot – yes! This is the country that gave birth to Carlos Acosta, remember, so it’s hardly surprising that Danza Contemporánea de Cuba dance fast, dance fun, dance tears, and all with an expertise that is truly amazing to watch. This is contemporary dance at its best, incorporating other styles and genres yet, despite the mix of
This is contemporary dance at its best, incorporating other styles and genres yet, despite the mix of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, American modernism and jazz, with an occasional touch of the classical, never losing sight of its own unique identity – the raw heart of the country that is Cuba.
Making their Welsh premiere, Cuba’s flagship dance company perform three new ballets, each of them stand alone and yet with a common object – presenting the originality, the quirkiness, the extraordinary compass of their country and in doing so showcasing it to the world in an extraordinary display of movement, dance, mime and acrobatic prowess. That is not to say that it is without flaws, the major one of these being an overloud soundtrack.
Reversible, choreographed by Annabelle Lόpez Ochoa, opens the programme with bare-chested male dancers and slightly more modestly clad female counterparts in a serious of visual group pieces blossoming into separate divertissements showing the diversity of human relationships, with particular emphasis on the husband/wife relationship. This is to some extent the most balletic of the three pieces, inasmuch as, in addition to contemporary movement with incredible muscular control, the dancers perform a series of perfect pliés, among other moves from classical dance, yet never lose sight of the overall cutting edge of the performance.
A change of pace after the interval with Theo Clinkard’s The Listening Room, one of the twenty-two original dance pieces which the Brighton-based choreographer and designer has premiered to date. Dancers wearing earphones and clad in Bermuda shorts and T-shirts performed a series of moves apparently to the music transmitted through said headphones while the audience listens to the music of Steve Reich. A diverse and serious piece of modernism, needing intense concentration, not always easy
Last, but by no means least, we have George Céspedes Matria Etnocentra. Military precision and style with the dancers in combat trousers and white star emblazoned T-shirts makes for a dramatic opening. Homage must be paid to the evident influence of Irish dance style with dancers in rows moving in perfect unison, but the main element is undoubtedly Cuban in style and projection, as can be said of all three pieces in a programme danced by a highly talented group of young dancers. A great touch of comedy lightens the ending of an extraordinary display of prowess in contemporary dance.
Sets are minimal to the point of non-existence at times, and lighting sparse, none of which matters as the dance itself is sufficient. However, presenter Dance Consortium should look at sorting the soundtrack, which is not helped by a series of commands in Spanish. The use of sub-titles for this might help.
Reviewed 28 February 2017 then tours | Image: Contributed