One of the best dance shows in years, Cuba’s Ballet Revolucion is a high-energy, wide-ranging and joyful display of both movement and music. Its young cast of 15 dancers, together with a dynamic 8-piece band, certainly know what they’re about, and gave the enthusiastic Melbourne first night audience a solid, thrilling and constantly entertaining performance. The show draws on Cuba’s rich cultural traditions, a fusion of indigenous, African, Spanish and, more recently, Russian influences. The spectacular result is what you see, dancers who can swing from ballet to hip-hop, by way of the mambo and meringue, and a band powering everything along. Musical sources include Beyonce, Santana, Shakira and Ricky Martin, as well as more traditional Cuban songs and classical ballet.
The choreography is skilled, from solos to duets, quartets and – my favourite – the full ensembles. There are a number of Baryshnikov-style leaps and bounds, and not too many men-coming-forward-and-showing-off moments (though the finale could cut a few). It’s always possible for Australians to see ballet, hip-hop, street Latin and standard Latin dances, so for me the real appeal lay in the more folkloric pieces, such as Rafael Hernandez’s Cumbanchero. This, and the other spare, rhythmic pieces danced by the whole group were, as ever, very skilled, but more distinctive and arresting.
But it is possibly ungracious and certainly unnecessary to choose the highlights. The show really must be seen and appreciated as a whole. You’ve only got till next weekend.
Venue: The Arts Centre, State Theatre | Melbourne
Dates: August 2 - 7, 2011
Bookings: 1300 182 183 | www.theartscentre.com.au | www.ticketmaster.com.au