Dance Cuba— Colorful, Cheerful
Danzón, flamenco, rhumba, cha cha, jitterbug, Afro-Cuban, batucada, mambo and more‑Lizt Alfonso Dance Cuba’s colorful, energetic and energizing tease of Cuban culture makes you feet twitch. You want to join the party. The program promises you will also jump to a standing ovation. Know that you will.
In costumes that time travel from 50’s Cuba when it was nightclub central,
to flowing white dresses reminding of Judith Jameson’s similar homage to Afro roots, to nude colored leotards with bare midruffs showing off the bottleshaped bodies of the female dancers, and mainly color-color-color that shouted cheer—these beautifully costumed strong athletic dancers seemed to have had pilates lessons that taught that every move begins from the smile as much as the core. (Costume design: Erick Gras, Oscare de la Portilla, Lizt Alfonso.)
Moods and scene changes were also set with precision by changing color lightscapes in the background. (Lighting Design: Manolo Garriga.)
Music Adds Personality
But most of all, it was the live musicians who move from background and onto the stage that give the show engaging personality. At times you don’t know whether to watch the keyboards-playing conductor open his arms wide, or keep your eyes on the fast-moving dance.
Early in the show, when a vocalist with a pure sweet and strong voice moves from the band on to the stage announcing himself as one of the two male dancers it startles. The timbre of his voice lingers in the air from just that brief solo, and as his athletic jetés, lifts of female dancers high into the air, pirouettes and more you too might find yourself craving his vocal chords as much as his dance.
The other male dancer, relatively tall and ever smiling, has flexibility and strength that puts him in the Baryshnikov league. All eyes went to him whenever he was on the stage. t didn’t surprise that applause peaked when he took his final bow.
Woman Power Dance
For this writer though, it was the flamenco style dances and especially a rhythmic stick dance that allowed the female dance corps to show their power that steals the show.
There is one more performance at Auditorium Theatre in Chicago. The group is an ambassador for Cuban culture that one imagines will make cruises to Cuba even more difficult to book than they are now.
This is a top pick for lovers of Latin dance and Latin music. If your dance appetite only runs to experimental choreography this is not your show.
November 6, 3:00 PM
The Auditorium Theatre Season continues into March, 2017
50 East Congress Parkway
Call 312 341 2300 or visit http://www.auditoriumtheatre.org
Photos: Jorge Gavilondo, unless otherwise indicated