Danza Contemporanea De Cuba @ The Playhouse (Brisbane Festival), 15th September 2010 – Live Review

[Image courtesy Brisbane Festival]
  Review: Lana Harris

Young and old wait in the shadows for the outsiders. Excited and unsure about what to expect from these strangers, from this contemporary dance troupe from the other side of the world, the other side of governance. Their entrance: a few members trickle onto the stage, in silence and unadorned.

Starting without sound, wearing only small white pants, two men and two women begin to dance. They dance alone, they dance with each other. They dance without noise until the haunting tones of Brel begins an escape from the lips of one of the female performers. Her voice is joined by a rising flood of orchestral tones penetrating the air as more and more dancers appear on stage, filling the space with their simple white uniform and sculpted forms. It begins to seem like a carnival illusion – their steps in unison and parallel, the dancers could be only one dancer, solo in a hall of mirrors. But there are no props on stage. It is the dancers’ efforts alone, their speed and height, flexibility and rigidity, balance and synchronisation as they move from each other, forming couples, disbanding, rejoining, and running on and off and around the stage. The constant changing relationships form the crux of the piece. The achievements invite comparisons to the mechanical, not from a lack of feeling but from the precision and the energy it takes to make these movements. If not from artificial means, surely the dancers must be demons, or crazy? It is not until the final moments, and the final position, that the humanness of the performers is confirmed.

A break and then…

As it sounds. I nspired by the opera, Danza Contemporanea De Cuba delivers a vaudeville dance interpretation. This one is only for the men of the company, and the flamboyantly dressed ones at that. They are physical comics, they are matadors, they are the circus. They spring across the stage joyfully, running, twisting, hamming it up but retaining a sense of immaculate showmanship throughout it all. Without props, the lighting is timed to intensify the acts it illuminates and the spectators hoot and exclaim, as they should. This piece is short, light, snappy and ends with a flourish.

A break and then…

Mambo 3XXI
A disco in Cuba. A pulpy, cheesy feel. Modern meets street. The atmosphere suffused with jungle electronics and a cacophony of dance. Bold textural moves through out –girl dances with girl and guy with guy in new twists. The end a blast of hyperactivity, the dance and the music peaking in an all-in nest of bodies tangled and exhausted. And that was it. They flee the stage and…

The audience retreats, back to the shadows. But not to silence. To applause and open mouths, to whispers of astonishment. This is how the newcomers do it.

Event: Danza Contemporanea De CubaBrisbane Festival
Venue: The Playhouse
Date:15th September 2010