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Havana Rumba – Udderbelly Festival, London

Writer: Toby Gough

Music: Sonora La Calle

Director: Toby Gough

Reviewer: Emily Peckham


Nestled in the belly of the purple cow on the banks of the River Thames, a Cuban party was in full swing offering rum shots, dancing and audience participation.

The UK dance scene has been bursting with Cuban flavour lately with companies such as Ballet Revolución and Danza Contemporánea de Cuba turning up the heat. E4’s Udderbelly Festival saw the sounds and rhythm of Havana Rumba light up the South Bank with tastes of salsa, mambo, cha cha cha, reggaeton and rakatan.

Havana Rumba was written and directed by internationally-acclaimed and award-winning Toby Gough. Gough also wrote and directed the internationally-renowned Lady Salsa, which was staged in the West End for two years. Havana Rumba is his second show to hit the E4 Udderbelly Festival after Brazil! Brazil! headlined the festival in 2010 with a bang.

“Rumba tells a story,” said Leo Almaguer, the lead singer of the house band, as Havana Rumba offered us a quick history lesson of Cuban dance. The Kings of Cuban Dance had acrobatic male dancers and their gorgeous female counterparts provided both visuals and humour.

The sensual sounds and raucous beats were provided by Sonora La Calle, Cuba’s infamous salsa band with guest appearance from Juventino ‘El Chico Divino’ from Cuba’s super-group Charanga Habanera.

Highlights of the performance included the cheeky tricks and acrobatics of one of Cuba’s top dancers, veteran Eric Turro Martinez, aka El Maestro and his incredible salsa moves with three female dancers.

The tunes made you want to get up on stage and join the professionals, and they certainly catered for our needs with a little audience participation towards the end, using a simple dance routine which would make Ricky Martín proud.

Rumba really is the people’s dance so get up and boogie your way to the Udderbelly Festival. This is the way to the party!

Runs until 8 July

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One comment

  1. Avatar
    Richard Davidge

    I went to Havana Rumba at the Udderbelly Festival twice. I’ve met all the musicians and dancers. What disappoints me is every review I look at is more or less the same, and apart from mentioning Eric and Wendy, everyone else might of well of died and been put in a nameless grave. Who are they, I see them almost every day, but if I didn’t and I was looking to contact them to offer business like I say, they are nameless. Maybe I’m just looking at the wrong websites?