Danza Contemporánea De Cuba

Danza Contemporánea De Cuba is a company that mixes classical ballet, Afro-Caribbean dance and theatrical skill.

Founded in 1959, but currently under the exacting directorship of Miguel Iglesias, the company recruits talented young dancers from Cuba’s National Art School and teaches them to perform routines choreographed according to over-arching ideas and stories.

According to Iglesias: ‘choreography must have a central idea, an intention. We must provide a dancer with the intellectual means to turn all this sophisticated technique into the language of dance.’

DCDC has been touring the UK since February, showcasing two – from a mixed bag of four – dances at each performance, beginning in Newcastle and ending, last Friday and Saturday, at Sadler’s Wells in Islington.

I was lucky enough to catch the second-half of the Friday show, it would have been both halves but British Rail didn’t want to spoil me by sending their trains on time. Fortunately the second half’s offering, Mamba 3XXI, was rich enough to stand alone.

As the troupe of dancers, dressed in singlets and shorts, ran on stage the first thing that struck me was their extreme youth and glistening vitality. With funky drum-orientated music as backing, they stomped and leapt in equal measure, throwing graceful balletic lifts in amidst swift, slick, street dancing.

‘Is it necessary to think with your body? Not for survival, perhaps, but for living. There are so many things that only the body can think’ said rehearsal director, Margarita Vilela, reinforcing Iglesias’ philosophy that dance should be more than the sum of its movements.

Some thoughts I got from the beautiful young bodies, as they rushed on and off stage, changing costume but always staying in a basic athletic get-up, were of discipline, strength, romance and vulnerability.

The stamina displayed was impressive: a group section reminded me of the bleep test – a dreaded assessment from secondary-school PE lessons that involved running from one side of the gym to the other, repeatedly, until collapse. The dancers not only evaded the final stage but ran with rhythm, and even whilst carrying a partner.

Yet there were mellower one-on-one sections that involved another youthful rite of passage: first love. Displaying a gentleness that was not exclusively heterosexual, boys and girls, girls and girls, boys and boys slung their arms around each other and tenderly, closely, danced their funky steps.

The most poignant bit came when one dancer would run on stage to be joined, seconds later, by another dancer, who would look briefly for a partner and find the first one waiting. Such self-exposure in the brief search, such luck in the swift discovery.

What was most impressive was that the emotional landscapes were not the creation of my fanciful imagination, they were transmitted using the language of Iglesias and all that sails with him.

Danza Contemporánea De Cuba took place at:

Sadler’s Wells
Rosebery Avenue

Box office: 0844 412 4300

To find our more about Danza Contemporánea De Cuba visit the Havana Cultura website

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