ANYONE focusing on the “Cuba” part of this company’s name, rather than the “Contemporánea”, may have found it wanting. There’s no salsa, no high-heeled rumba – just some of the finest contemporary dancers touring the world today.
It’s the company’s ability to remain resolutely Cuban, yet embrace elements of the international choreographers who visit them, that makes Danza Contemporánea de Cuba so special.
The capacity to adapt, born largely out of necessity, also makes these dancers ready for anything – including tricky lifts and catches wearing boxing gloves, as they do in Israeli-born Itzik Galili’s Sombrisa.
Performed to Steve Reich’s Drumming Part 1, Sombrisa is a piece that has all the right components, but at times they worked against each other. Reich’s score captivates when you can see the drummers, but can feel relentless without them.
Carmen?! by Finnish choreographer Kenneth Kvarnström lightened the mood considerably. Set to Bizet, this slick homage to toreadors and ill-fated love blended humour with strong athleticism.
But it seems right that a home-grown company member, George Céspedes, should understand how to bring the very best out of these dancers. His Mambo 3XXI took the Cuban ideals of uniformity and shook them up. At first plainly dressed and regimented, the dancers gradually gathered free-spirit momentum, colourful clothes and a joy for life that infected all of us.