It’s dark. A beam of soft light reveals a nearly naked Adam, a nearly naked Eve. Each dancer is at the centre of a tribal group dance, which gradually morphs into intimate bachata duos.
This is the captivating Reversible, choreographed by one of the world’s most desirable choreographers, the Belgium-Columbian Annabelle López Ochoa. It is also the opening piece to the spectacular 2017 programme of Danza Contemporánea de Cuba (DCC).
In Annabelle’s vision, all societal rules are broken. There are no gender roles to fill, no box to fit in. It’s all about the raw connection between man and woman, beautifully illustrated by music, movement and dance. Absolutely stunning.
DCC, established in 1959, is the pride of Cuba’s contemporary dance scene, and it has come to the UK yet again to show us what Cuba is made of.
London has answered to the very last seat – there’s not one spot left in the Barbican’s massive theatre hall. I’m sure I wasn’t the only mesmerized one as we witnessed the eclectic home-grown talent of each and every one of these gifted dancers.
After Reversible comes an entirely different piece, The Listening Room, choregraphed by British Theo Clinkard.
Here, it’s the connection between music and dance that’s being celebrated.
Equipped with earphones, each dancer listens to a different song by artists as varied as Vivaldi, Europa, Bach or Beyoncé. The audience, though, listens to Steve Reich’s Variations for Vibes, Pianos and Strings, sometimes broken off by moments of silence.
Dancers are left to their own creative might to interpret individual songs as they see fit – an interpretation that is improvised at every performance – and the audience needs to fuel its own creative flair to connect each part – the varied dancers, Steve Reich, silence – to the whole.
Although some parts may seem to be dragging on for too long, the show is an engaging tribute to musicality and creativity.
The performance closes with the award-winning Matria Etnocentra; choreographed by Cuba’s George Céspedes, DCC’s resident choreographer.
This piece brings Cuba in all its different colours to the stage – hardship and joie de vivre, despair and hope, history and future, restriction and freedom – it’s all in there, translated into a palette of dance forms from regimented group dance to shimmying to salsa duets. It’s genius, and creatively to the point.
Thank you, Cuba, and come back soon!
Find out about Danza Contemporanea De Cuba’s UK Tour dates & venues here.