Magazine article Dance Magazine

Fierce, from Havana: Danza Contemporanea Arrives Stateside

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Fierce, from Havana: Danza Contemporanea Arrives Stateside

Article excerpt


Down the street from the massive Revolution Square in Havana, with its monuments of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, is a small upstairs studio at the side of the Teatro Nacional. It's surrounded on two sides by windows that barely keep the palm trees out, and the infectious sounds of Cuban drumming and singing fill the space. When the dancers get excited they burst into song too. In Cuba, music and dance always go together.

Danza Contemporanea de Cuba is a crew of about 60 gorgeously diverse dancers with the rare combination of polished technique and raw abandon. They throw themselves into their work, whether taking a rigorous technique class--a combination of modern, ballet, jazz, and Afro-Cuban--or rehearsing Mats Ek's Casi-Casa. Their sheer physicality and joy in movement are exciting to witness. They are not striving for perfection, but for emotional connection.

This month, for the first time, they come to the U.S.--thanks to the Obama administration's loosening of travel restrictions between the two countries. They perform at the Joyce in New York May 10-22 as part of the city-wide festival iSi Cuba!, and also travel to Boston, Philadelphia, and Virginia Beach.

Founded in 1959 as a largely Graham-based group, the company has been led by Miguel Iglesias Ferrer for 25 years. He infused it with other influences (including contact improvisation), stretching it artistically into a group that travels internationally and causes excitement wherever it goes. Last year the company was such a hit in London that it was nominated as Best Foreign Dance Company by the National Dance Awards Critics' Circle.

With repertoire ranging from homegrown talent George Cespedes to the Spanish-born Rafael Bonachela and Sweden's Mats Ek, the company dances many different styles. Their newest choreographer is familiar to Joyce audiences: the Cuban-born, Bessie Award-winning, former Ballet Hispanico dancer Pedro Ruiz, now an independent choreographer. …

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