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Dance Review: Danza Contemporanea de Cuba ****

Jo Turbitt reviews a production that 'starts with oomph, goes a bit experimental in the middle and then goes out with a bang'.

Watch out! There is a new force in contemporary dance and it’s writing it’s own history in it’s own way, dancing to a raw, powerful, gutsy beat.

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba (DCDC) are awesome. They dance as if it’s their last breath that’s fuelling them through the work, performing with utter conviction in every piece. They have a strength in their identity which binds the company, and as an ensemble they are tight. It’s rare that you see a company who perform so intuitively as an ensemble and as soloists—British dance companies could learn a thing or two from them in terms of how to perform as a company!

The evening starts with oomph, goes a bit experimental in the middle and then goes out with a bang.

‘Reversible’ choreographed by Annabelle Lopez Ochoa is a sumptuous celebration of the human form. Ochoa captures both the power and sensitivity of both sexes in her choreography with lucid ensemble work and duets which magnified the bond and capacity of talent in DCDC.

‘The Listening Room’ by Theo Clinkard is like watching a piece of post-modern dance for the iPod generation. Clinkard has crafted a piece that appears to have a definite idea and purpose in the work which the dancers know about; yet we are set in the all too familiar task of working it out (if we so choose), finding our own meaning and connection to what is happening on stage. As the piece went on I eventually came to terms with the post-modern mash up, finding parallels to collaborations between Cunningham/Cage/Rauschenberg; not in the movement style or connect, but in the form and juxtaposition. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but an interesting conceptual flavour that needs a little more direction and refinement in its basic idea.

‘Matria Etnocentra’ choreographed by George Cespedes could be the company’s leading repertoire piece. Like ‘Revelations’ is for Alvin Ailey, Cespedes’ work is from the heart, soaked in history and heritage. The dancers perform with a connection to the work that only ever resonates in a team who believe in who they are and what they’re doing: an astounding display of formations, technique, clarity and precision. The work is guttural. Honest. Same goes for the design and lighting for each of the pieces actually, and this honest simplicity supports and amplifies the performance of the dancers.

It is exciting to see them on their first UK tour, exciting to witness a young company write its story and take its place within the global history of the art form.

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba was at the Edinburgh Festival. It continues its tour.

Tags: dance

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